• Kristina Mulligan

Social Distancing and the Village

This world is in scary times as we deal with a global pandemic. COVID-19 is causing fear in many and panic in others. In some way, however, we all feel the anxiety – and possibly the soreness of dry hands. Social distancing and isolation has become the way of life for many, and those that are a bit more “adventurous” are still navigating cancelled events (on their part or society’s) and having to go to work in a world that’s partially shut down. It’s uncharted territory for so many but, as a preemie parent, a lot of these precautions are a part of a normal season.

I have often been told that the voluntary quarantine that we endure each year since Flynn’s birth is “unnecessary.” I’ve heard unkind words about my “helicopter parenting” and “over-reacting,” that I’m “living in fear” and that “kids need exposure to germs to thrive.” When I wash my hands countless times a day, keep hand sanitizer all over the place, and sanitize my phone, I’ve been called “paranoid” and a “germaphobe.” I can take all that, though, it doesn’t hurt more than it would to have my son’s fragile health compromised. I stand by our decision to self-isolate every year, not because I’m terrified of another hospital stay (though that does play a role) or that I believe the world is only full of sickness and germs. I believe in it for the same reason that your family is doing it due to COVID-19: you want to protect your family. The feelings that you’re having in this moment – fear, uncertainty, confusion, panic – I am no stranger to them.

I say this not with the tone of “I TOLD YOU SO,” instead with one of, “I’ve been here. We’ll get through this.” I’m not insinuating the plight of one family is equal to a global crisis, but up until this point, we have a track record of being okay and standing together, even through all the fear. The same that you are feeling right now. In a time like this, social distancing is important not only for your sake, but for the health of those around you – your neighbors, your friends, the medical community. It’s not a time to panic, hoard, and think only about yourself. Remember that the community as a whole and sticking together (from afar) is equally important as your individual well-being. It takes a village to tackle big things like COVID-19. Be a part of the village, not a part of the problem.

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