A Generational View of the Global PandemicNov 29, 2020
My 82 year old mom, who is a very social woman, moved from 4 hours away to be closer to us – right before Covid hit. She was dealing with it successfully because it was spring and summer and she was able to visit with friends outdoors. As fall drew closer, she became increasingly blue and often commented on how much she was dreading winter. I found myself being annoyed by this. She lives in a cozy apartment downtown 7 miles from me. What’s to be sad about?
My dad and stepmom typically live with us during the summer months. It’s a chance for them to see all of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. This summer they stayed home because of Covid. They sadly commented towards the end of the summer, “We’ve been robbed of a year and at our age that’s a lot.”
These conversations with parents and friends over the past months got me thinking about how generations are viewing the pandemic quarantine differently.
Our Parents' Generation - Ages 75 and Up
The pandemic is hard on us all, but it’s easily hardest on this generation. I want my mom to feel grateful and happy that she’s closer to us during this time, even though it meant having to move away from the ocean that she loved visiting every day. I want my stepmom and dad to feel grateful that they are in sunny Florida and are able to play golf every day. But they’re all a super social bunch and aren’t able to easily do that now. More importantly, they’re in a very high risk group, just by virtue of their age. My Florida parents have four kids, eight grands, and 5 great grands and spending summers with all of us was something they absolutely lived for each year.
And it’s not like we can fly down to visit them now. It’s too dangerous for them.
So, understandably, this generation feels that it’s been robbed and has lost a year. And, a year when you’re 80 is different from a year when you’re 40.
There’s the constant back of mind worry and hope that they’ll be healthy and able to travel next summer. When they’ve pulled away each summer to head south in the past, I’ve prayed that they’d be healthy enough to return the following summer. I’d go sit downstairs in their suite and cry and miss them. Who knew when they left last summer that we had no idea when we’d see each other again.
Yeah, they’re right. We were robbed this year.
Our Generation (I'm Not Putting an Age on It, lol!)
I’m mostly speaking for myself although I’ve been chatting and commiserating constantly with my fellow boomers. In summary – we are hanging in there but this SUCKS. We are often unable to see our grandchildren and our senior parents. I have a close friend whose father is in a senior facility right near her and was ill. She was unable to get in to see him or supervise his medical care because of Covid. Naturally, she was anxiety ridden. Thanksgiving this year was a Zoomsgiving for many of us. We are forgoing family vacations and holiday get togethers. Although, by virtue of our age, we aren’t feeling the loss of a year or more the way our parents’ generation is, we are still feeling it. And, at least for me, the unknown is always anxiety producing. When will this be over and will we come out of it okay?
My schedule has gone from being on the road between work and grandchildren daily to being based at home most days. I enjoyed weekly happy hours with friends. Book club. The occasional theatre and concert event. All of that came to a grinding halt. If I’m being honest, I’ve always been more of a homebody. But this is ridiculous.
And, I wonder how I’ll adjust when we go back to normalcy – if we ever do.
Our Children's Generation
They are all doing the very best they can. Many are juggling telework while simultaneously supervising virtual school for our grands. Many have made the difficult but necessary decision to send their kiddos back to in person school where available.
I know our kids are worried about us, too. Just as we are worried about our parents.
Perhaps I’m wearing rose colored glasses with this one. But, for my grands and others that I know, I believe that they will look back on this time and have really good memories. Memories of the daily family walks, virtual school on cold mornings in pjs, and running into the kitchen during breaks for snacks.
For one of my preschool grandsons, we ‘ve set up “Yammi school” twice a week for him and two of his friends. It helps both of us get through this a bit easier.
This isn’t just in my little corner of the world. Studies are showing that kids overall are reading more, starting new hobbies, are more confident, and their vocabulary is increasing during this time.
I do wonder and, of course, worry about the transition back to in person for our grands who are being educated virtually for the school year. Especially those with a certain level of social anxiety. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, like everything else with this pandemic.
We'll Get Through This!
We’ve got no choice!
Everyone is doing what they have to do for themselves and their families. Whatever that entails. And none of us can judge anyone during these times. We must always take a moment and consider the other person’s perspective. And that perspective often comes from a generational place. So, I’m not annoyed anymore when my mom complains about the weather and being “stuck inside the apartment building” on a rainy cold day.
I’m also aware that this post is coming from the perspective of a person who has choices during this time. And that’s something I give thanks for each and every day. I know that many do not and that the anxiety and fear that has to come along with that has to be horrible.
Now, more than ever, we need to be able to lean on each other and help each other out. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart