It is a question that I had wondered about since early 2020 when the seriousness of the Coronavirus became apparent. What would I do if my daughter contracted the virus? The fact that she is an adult child is neither here nor there for, as a parent, the worry never stops. Age to a parent’s worry is immaterial.
I would tell her to wear her mask when she left home to go the local shops even though the mask was already in her hands, ready to be put on. I worried about her while she was out. I had almost lost her when she was two years old to an auto immune disorder, which she fully recovered from after a year by the way but it was a harrowing time.
The lockdowns, which I agree with by the way, has extracted a toll on young people. My daughter was not immune to it either. She missed her friends. She missed the real world of university and face to face teaching. ‘My youth is going by’, she would say to me. I tried to reassure her that she had many years ahead of her.
When restrictions were lifted temporarily in December, she was tempted into going to stay with a friend. I was worried but understood that things were difficult for her at home. Being stuck with your mother day in and day out wasn’t much fun. We did a quick risk analysis and decided that she would benefit from a short break away from home.
Young people have suffered from feelings of loneliness during lockdown. The psychological effects of being alienated from the opportunity to live their youth is causing mental health issues. All this considered, it wasn’t surprising that my daughter sought a little relief from the monotony of lockdown.
Then the call came. She had tested positive with mild symptoms. The latter bit didn’t reassure me one bit because I knew that the worst symptoms don’t always show up till later. I fretted and tried to stay calm and fretted even more as the days went on. There were times in the day when she didn’t pick up her phone. My imagination would run riot during these hours. She would call back and explain that she was exhausted and had been asleep.
‘How did you get it?’ I would ask her over and over again as if the virus were a visible physical entity that made itself known when it came knocking on your door. My logical mind was trying to make sense of it all.
I have had bucketfuls of empathy for those featured in the media who were either suffering from Covid or who have had closed ones die from it. But having my daughter contract Covid was a different ball game. You don’t know something till you experience it.
Soon after she tested positive, I started to ask myself big philosophical questions. Had I done enough for her as a mother, had she lived the best life possible so far and what would I do if she died? In that short period that she had the virus, I was hovering between being a sane parent and a not so sane one.
Not being able to care for her was hard. I wanted to make soup, take her temperature and just soothe her brow but that was not possible. A big part of me was willing to sacrifice my safety to go to her if her symptoms had worsened.
During this period, I discovered that a dear friend had died of Covid from travelling during the Christmas break. I mourned her loss. This friend had helped set up a holiday playscheme for children in the early 2000s which my daughter had attended and loved. There was a triangular bond between us. My friend always said that setting up the holiday club was the best thing that she had done in her life. The club allowed me to carry on working during the holidays without having to take unpaid leave. All thanks to my dear friend.
My daughter was lucky, as it turned out. Her mild symptoms did not escalate. She doesn’t have long Covid either. My heart goes out again and again to those who have lost family members. While I will not claim to be able to fully identify with parents who have lost children to Covid, I think that I have a fleeting insight into the parental turmoil which is churned up when something goes wrong.
It was also a reminder to me that I could not protect my child from everything. In fact, I would have thought that that was a lesson that I would have learned by now. As parents, we remain half delusional in our parenting in thinking that we can protect our much-loved children. We can’t. No matter their age.
Interesting article on how a mother of a 6-year old Covid victim coped in America.
Please also visit my other blog on midlife living