The pandemic has been a roller coaster; a ride I never wanted on. And while we all buckled in and braced ourselves to find out as much as we could about COVID-19 we also saw things get political. No longer were we concerned about our health, suddenly it was a finger to point, a person or “group” to blame, a side that you were on and it brought more fear to many.
As a white woman, I definitely cannot say that I felt directly threatened. However, as a wife and mother to an Asian husband and children, I did feel that they would be subjected to hate and I did feel like I had to protect them.
We lived in a town that I always assumed was safe. I didn’t realize that we would have to pick a side and when the virus was at its peak, we had to chose a side: wear a mask or not. I remember going on our last play group and feeling judged for wanting to put on a mask. I saw that they weren’t wearing a mask so I shoved mine in my pocket. During the play group, it fell out and one of the friends who I thought was closest to me – pointed out that my mask had fallen. I felt she was watching me, almost waiting to see if I would put it on. I never felt so uncomfortable with someone that I thought was a friend.
After we got home, I told my husband and while he wished I had worn the mask he understood that I felt scared. From then on I told him I wouldn’t spend time with anyone that didn’t agree or feel that wearing a mask was an act of safety. When masks became mandated we felt much better about our choice.
My husband is in the medical field and we have always believed in science. If infectious disease experts were saying to wear a mask and stay home, then we followed the guidelines. I never felt like they were taking my freedom, I always felt that they were trying to prevent spread and to keep our family, loved ones and our community protected. We are all in this together . . . right? What happens when your community doesn’t show you that respect back? What happens when friends, and even family, push back? I’ve never liked confrontations and I hate debates, but I really was starting to feel uncomfortable in my community. It wasn’t the main reason we moved, but it definitely pushed us away faster, and we happily found ourselves moving back to our old community where we felt that respect and kindness was still present in most of the community.
I can’t thank my true friends enough, because when we did move back I was welcomed. They heard my frustrations and shared my views about masks and safety. They never made me feel guilty for doing what I thought was right for my family. When we did feel safe to meet up, we would wear our masks and play outside. All parties involved knew and agreed to the safety guidelines and followed them without hesitation. I wasn’t apologizing when I asked them to wear their mask. I know I should never feel bad for doing what’s right for my family, but I never knew that my own friends would disagree. It was, and still is, a strange time to navigate through; to do without your friends and your children’s friends whom they’ve grown to love and look forward to seeing.
Fast forward and we finally have progress. There are vaccines and younger people are able to get it, too. I’m keeping my mask on because we aren’t out of the woods yet, I believe that will come when my young children are vaccinated.
What I don’t like is the negativity and disrespect people show to those who are trying to do the right thing and protect themselves, their family and community. I’m not out here trying to make a statement. I’m not trying to make this political. I’m looking at the science. I’m listening to the professionals who study infectious diseases. So why do I get judged when I’m wearing a mask? Why do my children have to leave the park because others refuse to have their children wear a mask? People say “if you’re afraid, then stay home, don’t go out.” Unfortunately, that is what ends up happening.
I realize that now is the time where I do have to pick my battles and show my children what we stand for and how to make the difficult choices. All I can say is that is is a new world for me, too and I’m taking it day by day.