To the children of the frontliners:
Thank you for being brave.
Some of your parents who have taken care of patients with the infamous COVID-19 have decided keeping distance from you is best.
Perhaps some of your parents may already have been infected with it.
Maybe you are 3 years old. I know it is hard to understand why Mommy has to be in a room at home all by herself, and no one is allowed in there.
Maybe you are 4 years old. It is confusing why Daddy cannot give you hugs and kisses anymore.
Maybe you are 11 months old. Mommy cannot be the one who will feed you for the time being.
Maybe you are 7 years old. You hear Dad, who works in the emergency department, climbing out the window to go back to work so he will not possibly “contaminate” you. I know, “contaminate” is such a big word.
My kids know how you feel
My kids know how you feel. They are ages 2, 4 and 5. They have not touched, hugged or smothered their daddy with kisses for 16 days.
They know Daddy is able to stay at another place to “keep them safe,” but they have a hard time understanding why being separated for now means protecting them.
They hated that Daddy was not at home to celebrate one of our kid’s birthdays, or when we did not get to celebrate his birthday, or that he missed the egg hunt on Easter.
If he has a chance to see them before working in the hospital, they see their daddy through a glass window and say, “Daddy is always wearing a mask.” They press their tiny hands on the glass. Their smudges can only go so far, never touching their daddy’s face.
They know their daddy has been exposed working with others infected with this virus, and they know their daddy has been helping people fight this same virus. And just like you, they really hate this virus.
Your parents love you
We know some of your parents sleep in the garage to stay away from you. Some of them live in a camper in the front yard. They take really hot baths and drink really hot tea to try to kill any possible viral exposure.
We know some of your parents keep their distance from you because some of you kids have conditions too, like asthma, chronic bronchitis or cancer. Your parents have to keep their distance, because they do not know how bad the virus will affect you if you get sick from it. They do not want to regret anything.
Right now, in these strange times, staying away from you is your parents’ way of saying, “I love you.”
I have something really important to tell you: Don’t stop being brave. Being brave does not mean you cannot cry. Being brave does not mean you cannot say, “I’m scared,” sometimes.
Being brave means even though some of these things going on in today’s world make us cry and feel frightened, we still are able to move forward into a new day, trying our best to understand the situation and find ways in the little things to find happiness.
Thank you for playing your instrument, learning to read a new book, helping your other parent understand “the new math” from school as they homeschool you, singing your heart out, baking in the kitchen, playing with toy cars and dolls, making a card for your parent who is a frontliner.
I have to be brave, too
Guess what? I’ve got a secret to tell you: I cry at least once every single day.
Sometimes, I don’t feel very brave. I cry because I have friends in New York fighting this virus, and they see scary things every day. I have family and friends in the hospitals working to get protection for them to wear at work, and I see the heart they have for both their patients and their families.
I cry because there are a lot of people going through a hard time with too little food and money. So, just like I tell you, I also tell myself to be brave.
Here’s how I try to be brave. I turn my thoughts into pockets of gratitude.
I am grateful I still am safe, for tiny flowers in my garden, for birds singing in the trees, for calls from family and friends, for the kindness of strangers, for learning how to wait, for learning how to be more thoughtful of others, for time I have with my kids, for time I have playing piano, for time for being creative.
I am grateful my husband can help people.
I think of single parents who have been able to manage raising their kids, and I admire the hard work they do. I am thankful I have a little taste of how that feels. I have a bit of understanding and more appreciation for how military wives care for their household when their spouses are deployed for many months, and I think to myself, “If they can be brave, my kids and I can, too.”
And most of all, children of frontliners, I am thankful for you. I don’t know how long this will last, but you are not unseen. Thank you so much for supporting your frontliner mom or dad. Thank you for being brave.
Kira Sienes Corona was a practicing RN for six years before becoming a full-time stay-at-home parent for her three children. Her husband Jay Corona is a telemetry unit RN. He and Kira’s mother, an ICU nurse, care for COVID-19 patients. Their entire family attends Calvary Baptist Church of McAllen, Texas. This article is adapted from the original, which first was published Apr. 14, 2020. The views expressed are those solely of the author.