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Northern Wildflower: protecting what's important during the pandemic



We are now a few weeks into social distancing, a phrase I never thought I’d say, and this virus is testing all of us to our limits. We are not used to drastic change. We are not used to having to be around our families for twenty-four hours a day every day with no end in sight.

When my children were small, I welcomed the break that I got when I went to work each day because it was extremely tiring to raise them on my own as a single mother. They were energetic and always needed my attention. My heart is going out to the single mothers right now with small children who are trying to do the best they can. I hope that they have someone to help them through these tough times. Even if it's just having someone drop off groceries at their front door.

Now that my children are teenagers, they are a bit easier than babies but that poses a whole set of other problems. Some parents are faced with the nearly impossible task of trying to keep their teenagers at home, preventing them from their vital line - their social life.

I am thankful that I don’t have that issue right now with my teenagers. In fact, it’s the opposite. My son plays video games all day and night and I only see him come out of his room to eat. My daughter is stuck to her phone on TikTok imitating the dance routines. But what about those that can’t afford the internet? I am hoping the NWT government will take this into consideration and force Northwestel to waive fees for low income families during this time.

Schools should be providing technology alternatives to homes so that students can still take part in schoolwork. I don’t remember the last time either one of my kids picked up a book and actually read the whole thing but good news for writers, books sales are up! My daughter misses her friends at school, but she still has me, even though she gets embarrassed when I refer to her as my best friend.

She would never admit it, but she truly is. What about those kids that need to get their energy out? All the recreation centres are shut down. Sure, they can go outside but there are even mixed messages about being outside now, no one knows what’s right or wrong.

My birthday is coming up soon, but it won’t be celebrated. I’ve never really been one to make a big fuss over my birthday any how so it’s okay with me that I’ll be at home celebrating with my family. However, I already forewarned everyone in my family that I will NOT be on dish duty on my birthday. We don’t have a dishwasher in our house, and I am the one stuck with the dishes most days. I kid you not, I stand at the sink for about three hours a day in total.

I’m to the point now where I might just throw out every extra cup, plate, bowl and cutlery and give person in my house a set of their own set of dishes with their name on it that they have to wash. My hands are so dry now from all the handwashing and dishwashing but if that’s all that I have to complain about then I will shut up about that. 

Still, I will be on strike from all chores on my birthday. Staying at home has been very difficult in that there is no shortage of work to do around the house when you have two elderly parents to look after, two teenagers who are allergic to the word chores and three dogs who are spoiled and always want walks, treats and attention. Through all of this, I’ve learned that housework is still very much believed to be a woman’s work, this world hasn’t progressed as much as we would like it to in that regard.

I’m somewhat of a homebody as it is. The last time I went out for a night on the town was when I was asked to be an extra at a curling bonspiel and I will never forget that night, it was the last social gathering I attended. Maybe I’ll take up curling once this is all over.

I’ve been trying to keep my spirits up by thinking about all the good things about having to stay at home. I get to sleep in. I get to wear my pajamas all day. I get to watch TV and snack all day. I get to leisurely go for walks (making sure to jump out of the way when someone comes to close just as long as it’s not in the middle of the road).

Time is on your side right now if you are like me and considered a non-essential worker and staying indoors. I’ve managed to nearly write another novel! I’m more than halfway done. I’m so cooped up that I’m writing about a female agoraphobic with a fire in her heart. I’ve started crafting again. And I remain hopeful that once we are over this pandemic the world will be a better place and mother nature will have had time to take a nice big exhale.

Then there’s the things I can do without. My family is starting to get on each other’s nerves very easily. Things that never annoyed me before are annoying me now. I’m snapping easily for no reason. I’ve had to take out my RRSP’s and don’t know how long I can get by without an income. I’m hearing conspiracy stories about this virus and how it might be the end of the world but I’m trying not to think gloom and doom.

Our normal is no longer available to us and it might never be the same again. I’m concerned about those small businesses that are going bankrupt right now. I’m concerned about the cows that are getting milked way too much just for it to be wasted because restaurants aren’t operating.

Then there are those that might be silently suffering from abuse. My heart breaks for those that might feel they are trapped inside of an unhealthy home with no way out. We must ask ourselves what we can do to help if we see something that isn’t right. The entire world needs to be reevaluated right now. Our hair has been let down for too long. It’s time to pull it back into a tight braid.

Then there’s my mom. She has a bad hip and fell down the stairs and has been having a hard time walking since so she can’t come for walks with us until she feels better. I’m worried that she misses her home in the North. She used to love going to the thrift store down the road and buy little trinkets that she really doesn’t need and now she can’t. The simple things she liked to do are not within her reach anymore.

At least she has my stepdad to keep her company. He’s living with us right now, too,  to help us while I go to school. We have to be careful not to bring the virus home to him because he is elderly and has Parkinson’s disease. Right now everything we do revolves around keeping him safe. 

I’m thankful that our family has been spared from the virus so far and hope to continue to be able to steer clear of it as I was told at its worst it feels like you’ve just been dropped on the top of mount Everest and are struggling for air. 

I’ve asked myself is it better to be social distancing, in self-isolation or in quarantine all alone or is it better to have your family with you? I’ll be honest, sometimes I wish I had some peace and quiet but then again, I’m sure I’d be wishing for my family to be with me if I were all alone. 

This virus might be forcing us to stay indoors making it so that our fragile relationships might be scratching at the surface of the truth of who we are exposing our beauty and our less than perfect sides of ourselves but confrontation gives us the ability to try and improve upon ourselves amidst our transgressions. 

This virus is reminding us to be thankful for what we have, to take extra precautions and be alert and protective over our loved ones. To really look within ourselves and evaluate the differences between our wants and our needs. To be patient with each other and care for each other, to forgive. It’s reminding us that we should strive to try and live a healthy life so that our immunity might be able to fight it if at all possible.

This virus is showing us that human interaction matters and that hugs are not overrated.