by Kimberly Jacobson, 05/09/2020, Traverse City, Mi
Did you wash your hands? Please wash your hands. Remember to wash your hands. You have to wash your hands first. These are the pleas that come from a mother’s mouth long before the pandemic. After school. Before snacks. These pleas are remnants of a former healthcare worker turned stay at home mom. These pleas are the last ditch effort in avoiding those seasonal high fevers. The clammy, heavy, sweat soaked cuddles on the couch. That’s when you remember you forgot hand sanitizer once you all buckled up in the car after church. It is consistently asked and consistently ignored.
That was before Covid-19.
One Friday morning in mid-March, the kids went to school and came home with crumpled belongings from their cubbies, a 5-day packet of common core math and then they didn’t go back again. The germ is very serious, they’re told. This is how we all stay safe, they hear. We have to stay home, we can’t go there, you can’t play with them, that’s closed now. Does Dad still have to go to work? Can he stay home today? He does, he can’t. Please wash your hands.
We don’t leave the house as a family anymore. Only one person per household. We begin a new weekday routine, a new bedtime routine. A new normal. What was before will never be again. Dad wears a mask when he leaves. Our family has more time together but only here, in our home. We watch a show at night as a family. The CDC commercial on TV joins mom in the pleas to wash your hands. The children join the TV in reciting what they’ve since memorized over the last eight weeks: wash your hands.