Have you hit the Covid wall?

Celebrating milestones brings connection and comfort in bleak times.

After spending 82 days in the NICU with my premature daughter Tess, I learned the value of celebrating milestones in bleak times.

On February 14, 2011 she was extubated from the ventilator and moved to a CPAP machine, best Valentine’s Day gift ever!

 

On March 17th, her isolette was bedazzled with kelly green shamrocks and dancing leprechauns.

 

And ten years ago today, while Toronto patios were filled with revelers drinking frozen Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo, my daughter felt the sun on her face for the very first time.

Every year since then, on May 5th, we celebrate her life and good health with tacos, guacamole and Margaritas.

 

Creating and observing traditions no matter how small, helps us to cope during difficult times. Milestones foster a sense of connection and belonging to the “outside” world, especially when we feel isolated and filled with fear. They give us something to look forward to and make us feel “normal” if only for a moment.

It was the marking of landmarks while in the intensive care unit that carried me through, and it is the marking of landmarks while on lockdown that does the same.

With school closures affecting more than 5.1 million kids in grades K-12 in Canada (June 2020 RBC Report) it is Moms at home who bear the brunt of online learning and who are struggling to make it through each school day. And with the onslaught of the current third wave in Ontario, it seems we all have collectively “hit the wall”.

Juggling working from home and helping your child decipher between a scalene and isosceles triangle takes patience. It also requires the exactitude of an air traffic controller when simultaneously activating the video off/mute buttons to avoid kid zoom work call bombings.

A decade ago, I could never have predicted where we are today. Much like our NICU experience, the many setbacks and grim statistics are far too overwhelming. But it’s the connection and support from those who “get it” that get us to the other side.

When Tess was close to her discharge day, her health began to slide backwards out of nowhere. I remember walking down the hospital corridor and breaking down in the arms of NICU Graduate Mom named Kate who was there to provide peer support. I will never forget what she said.

“Oh dear, you’ve hit the wall, this is totally normal as you get closer to the finish line”

Kate saw me, heard me and understood. I was no longer alone.

And it was Kate, all those years ago, who introduced me to the importance of celebrating milestones.

Although it may seem hard to wrap your head around virtual revelry right now, that is exactly what we need to bring us hope and normalcy in a time that is anything but.

So with that, I would like to wish you a Happy Cinco de Mayo! May you celebrate the life and good health of the people you love, and may you find time to honour those who see you, hear you and understand.

Oh, and just a friendly reminder, Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t already ordered a bucket of bath beads for the Mom in your life, download this triangle cheat sheet and stick it on your fridge. Trust me, It will be the best Covid Mother’s Day gift ever!

Happy Lockdown Mother's Day!

Jack Hourigan is the co-founder of Sway Partners, a communication and training firm on a mission to help organizations flourish by cultivating communication skills, developing leaders and strengthening teams. She specializes in virtual communication & presentation skills