This interview is one part of a series written by our 2020 CBF Summer Ministry Intern, Emmaline Rogers.
Covid-19 took away Amy Moffatt’s sense of stability. Her children lost their routines, she shut down her business for six weeks, and she lost her ability to plan ahead due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Her coping mechanisms were taken away, forcing her to find a way to manage life during a global pandemic without her usual routine and methods of self-care.
“My husband and I were actually on a cruise on the first week of February, so that was when we first started hearing about it,” she told me, “and we weren’t getting a lot of news but we were checking emails and some internet news and were hearing of some illness on another cruise ship, and I think as we got on [the ship] that week they were asking if you’d been travelling in China and things like that…I think we were definitely aware of it then, and I’m a veterinarian so I’m in the medical field and, you know, things like that interest me any way, so I was paying attention to it. I do remember seeing someone who—there were a lot of people on the elevators on the cruise ship and I remember seeing the elevator doors open and there was an Asian person already on the elevator with us, and when the doors opened, the woman who was about to step in, you could see her face, like, ‘oh no, could be a Chinese person’…it was already affecting people that first week of February…The day we were supposed to disembark I was getting a little nervous because I was worrying that if somebody got sick on the ship they might not let any of us off. So I was glad when we got off…other than that, it was having them cancel my kids school, that certainly made it seem more real…if it was bad enough that we couldn’t keep our kids in school, then that certainly seems serious.”
Amy has two kids: her daughter is a rising high school freshman, and her son is a rising junior. Both are enrolled in public school, so none of the schoolwork assigned during the pandemic was required. “It was a weird feeling of, you know, how much do I make them do…I certainly think I was less demanding of them just because [it was] difficult to concentrate for any of us, so I thought putting a lot of pressure on them about it wasn’t a good thing, but having them kind of go through the motions to have a normal routine was also good.” She thought her son was able to handle working from home very well. “He’s always been kind of an independent worker anyway,” she said. “He loves going to school…so he was certainly missing that.” But her daughter missed out on all of the end-of-the-year events she had been looking forward to. “For her, her whole life kind of came to a stop…But both of them I feel like had trouble expressing what was going on. I mean, I think all of us did, even myself and my husband…it was just kind of hard to validate our feelings, ‘cause we’d never felt the way we were feeling before and it was just hard, hard to deal with it, hard to get motivated…”
“I’m someone that, you know I guess I’m goal-oriented and career-oriented…I was off of work for six weeks and…there was just a feeling that I’m not doing anything…it was really hard for me to feel like I was okay or worth something or accomplished something when I hadn’t done the things I usually feel are accomplishments. So that was the hardest thing for me, feeling like I was worth something without my job, you know, in a way, trying to reevaluate my feelings of worth, but that was also a good learning experience because I feel like I realized how much of my self worth is tied up in that…I was enjoying the family time and the downtime and I did finally find some other ways to be productive and so…coming out of it, I told myself I’m going to work three days a week at my job and then I’m going to fill in with some at-home work…and then maybe pick up a thing here and there, but not schedule more than three full days for myself so I can have a better work/life balance coming out of this.” Amy picked up running again to occupy some of her time during quarantine. “I love to exercise, and that was one thing I hadn’t had enough time to do, was running or walking…I signed myself up for a virtual challenge so that I could keep track of my miles…I could go out and run and didn’t have to worry about what time I was getting back because I didn’t have anywhere to go…That’s the other thing I’m trying to stay on top of as we get back to work is I, for my own physical and mental health, I need to have time to do that.”
Amy also has been able to spend more dedicated time with her family. Before the pandemic, “There was just always everybody going different directions, and driving two kids places…it really gave us time for all four of us to be together as a family and it was great family time, we’ve enjoyed that, and I think became closer as a family unit than we had been, just because of the business we’d had going on prior…We had some family game nights, would watch a family movie some nights, sometimes it’ll be everybody in their own room watching their own thing or playing their own game or whatever, but then we did have some time where we designated…family game or family movie, and on the weekends we started getting together with my parents and my brother and his family just outdoors; we’ve got a big lot so we could…be outside at our house and all get our lawn chairs out in the driveway and spread out and that kind of thing…that started kind of being a weekly tradition as well, which we hadn’t had….we’ve definitely had a lot more family time than we’d had.”
One of her biggest concerns is, “I guess just the worry of the unknown, you know, and worrying about if my parents are going to get sick because they’re in their seventies, worried about planning meals and groceries and things…I remember going to the grocery store as things were locking down and thinking, I don’t know when we’ll get to do this again…is everything going to shut down shut down, are we going to have to make this food last for a month or whatever…” She also expressed concern about what the upcoming school year would look like. “I’m somebody who plans ahead and we usually have things planned out several months in advance, so it’s been stressful for me to look at the calendar…” With the pandemic constantly changing our most basic interactions with the world, the amount of the unknown in the future and the shifting parameters of what we are able to do safely all have Amy on edge.
“I kinda worry for my kids, just because they’ve already missed out on their spring and summer plans…my daughter will be starting high school next year…my son loves school, I’m just worried school won’t be the experience they want it to be in the fall…And you know, I think they’ll adjust, but I worry…about them being disappointed. That’s the hardest thing for parents, having their kids be disappointed. I can handle myself being disappointed, I don’t know if I can handle them being disappointed!” she laughed.
“Being, like I said, in the medical field, it bothers me how unconcerned people are about spreading disease in general,” she told me. “It takes a pandemic for people to not cough on each other…” She started talking about her kids and how illnesses are transmitted in school settings. “I get upset anytime they have to miss out on something because they’re sick…It’s always a juggling act to parents, like what do I do with my sick kid because I have to go to work…it’s frustrating, but I do think, hopefully, going forward from this, people will have a little more consideration for that. But it’s been interesting to watch the response [to the virus] and to see how critical people are being…and people don’t realize how long it takes to study those things…and so these poor medical professionals have been trying to give the best recommendations they can with no experience [with the virus] and no scientific studies…the attitude of people has been disappointing. And in some ways I think it’s brought people together, and then in other ways I think it’s just continued to divide people just based on, well I’m a mask-wearer, well I’m not a mask-wearer…I think in some ways it’s a common experience…but it’s something we’ve all experienced, but in our own ways, I think.”
Every person, of any age or situation, has felt the isolating effects of the pandemic. Whether that came from social distancing or from differences in moral and political views revealed in these past couple months, we have all felt alone and unmoored from our usual support systems. For Amy, the loss of her ability to affirm her achievements as well as her family’s loss of routine left her confused and scrambling to fill the gap. But she discovered, as many of us have, that she was able to spend more time with her family and with herself in ways that she hadn’t been able to before, and realized that she needed to maintain those changes even after things return to something closer to normal. Though the circumstances certainly haven’t been optimal, Amy has discovered ways to lead a more fulfilling life.