When Kira Newman, Specialist – Educational Partnerships & Programs, began a parental leave in January, she was excited to spend time with her then five-month-old son (now one year old) and was feeling good about stepping away from work. “We developed a great routine, and had a ton of fun,” remembers Kira, who has been with HFS since 2012. “Then COVID happened, and as someone who is immunocompromised, I wasn’t sure if I would in fact be ‘going back’ (physically) to work, or if I would have a job to go back to, and if Micah would be starting daycare.
Kira says that parenting while working during a pandemic with Carrie, her partner who works in Orientation, and having no family in the area has been a wild ride. “Most days, we’re both lucky to go to all of our meetings (with or without Micah), and it’s a win if everyone eats at least one meal during the day. Some days, Micah doesn’t feel like napping on his normal schedule, so our productive afternoon turns into hanging out with a cranky one year old,” says Kira.
On other days, they turn around for one minute and there are tissues everywhere and books in the toilet “while we’re running a move-in meeting or full-orientation session from the kitchen.” But no matter what the day brings, they end the day with overwhelming gratitude for the extra time with their son. “He’s playing, learning and growing so fast, and we want to soak up every minute of it,” adds Kira.
For now, daycare seems potentially unsafe for their immunocompromised family. “It feels too risky for our little boy [who Kira and Carrie lovingly welcomed after four years of fertility treatment] and who I beat cancer for. It just feels too risky, and I need to listen to my newfound maternal instinct.”
So, what does this mean so what does this mean for the long haul? “Micah is an active one year old who needs our full attention—but so do our jobs (among other things). How do we keep up this effort, for who knows how long? When will daycare be safe? What happens if and when one of us goes back too the actual office? Would it be safe to hire a nanny?”
Like other parents dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, Kira and her family are making decisions during a time of unpredictability. “We have to keep our family safe, and we have to work (and at some point we should probably sleep),” Kira has concluded. “And if that means Micah knows how to put people in breakout rooms on a Zoom meeting before he knows how to share, then that’s what we have to do. There’s no other choice.”