No doubt we all have been affected by the COVID pandemic. I gave birth just before quarantine and isolation were put in place. I consider myself lucky that this was the case — I can’t imagine how tough it must be being pregnant, going to all the appointments or going into labour when there is this dark cloud above us.
Fortunately, my baby met most of our family members (both from my side as well as my husband’s) before COVID was declared a pandemic.
However, for several months now, the only humans my baby really knows are me and my husband. Everyone else are images on a phone or a laptop because we turned down family and friends who wanted to come by and see our baby especially in the beginning of quarantine/isolation.
There was one time we were out in our front yard and our neighbour’s kids were playing. I can tell my baby was super curious about what the other kids were doing. He was looking around and would laugh when the kids ran around and chased each other. But because of physical distancing, we were watching them from afar. The kids then came a bit closer to us to see my baby. One of the kids said, “look at his tiny toes, so cute!” But her mom reminded her not to touch my baby and keep her distance.
One time my parents came over to visit and drop some homemade goodies. The drive was about 2 hours long from their house to ours. We didn’t let them hold our baby. We were all wearing masks as we talked for a bit. We stayed out in our backyard under the scorching heat of the midsummer sun. When rain started pouring, we went in the house but stayed at the foyer until my parents decided it’s time to go back home.
The next time I talked to my mom, she mentioned how heartbreaking it was to see her grandson and not be able to hold or hug him. She felt she was so close to her grandson, yet so far.
This got me thinking:
Would my baby think this is normal?
Would he grow up thinking the world around him so unfamiliar?
Would he grow up feeling isolated because he’s been comfortable with just me and my husband?
Would he be aloof when other people are around him?
Would my baby and other kids grow up thinking these are now the rules that must be followed?
Would my baby grow up staying away from (and not get the chance to play with) other kids?
Would this be my son’s normal?
What about cultural practices?
Should I teach him cultural practices or should I just let him grow without knowing so he doesn’t practice them and I could keep him safe?
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’d know that my baby is a mixed-race baby — half Filipino-half Caucasian.
In Filipino culture, we have a practice called “pagmamano.” When we see our elders, our cultural practice is to take our elder’s hand and gently tap the back of his/her hand on to our foreheads. In return, our elders would say “bless you.” It’s a sign of respect to our elders.
In Canadian culture, especially in Quebec, people give two cheek-kisses when they see each other as a form of greeting.
With the health and safety guidelines for physical distancing in this COVID-stricken world, does it still make sense to teach my baby all these practices? Should I just let him grow without knowing any of these so I could keep him safe? Or am I denying him of the chance to learn and know his culture?
If physical distancing would create a lasting impact and a cultural shift in social practices, does it still make sense for parents to teach their babies pre-COVID practices or should we just move on and go with the new “norm”?
These are just some thoughts from a first-time mom. 🤷🏻♀️
I know nobody has the right answers. At the end of the day, we just have to do the things that we think are right given our risk tolerance. But if you’re a mom or a parent and have been thinking of these things, leave a reply and share your thoughts with me below.