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Losses and Gains


Published May 5, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Alison and Mira heading out for their morning walk - COURTESY OF ALISON NOVAK
  • Courtesy of Alison Novak
  • Alison and Mira heading out for their morning walk

You know that advice, when you're contemplating a big decision, to make two columns and list pros and cons on either side? I sometimes find myself trying to make sense of this new reality we're all living in by creating a chart like that in my head — the things we've lost and the things we've gained.

There are so many losses — a multitude of lives and livelihoods — that seemed unimaginable just a few months ago. That side of the chart often feels like it has no end. It's difficult and painful to wrap my mind around.

But there have been small bright spots, too. There's a humanity that seems to infuse many of my interactions, mostly virtual ones, these days. It's an unspoken understanding that we're all trying the best we can. I've almost forgotten what the hectic school-day shuffle — of making lunches and brushing teeth and trying to get my kids to school before the drop-off rush — feels like.

Nowadays, my husband and I wake early and drink coffee at the kitchen table while preparing for our day. And, almost every morning, I take a short walk with my daughter, who's on the brink of being a teenager. As we cut through the gravel path that connects our neighborhood with another, Mira and I pass painted rocks that other families have left along the trail to brighten the world a bit. As we walk, we talk about how she's managing online school, analyze the latest episode of the TV shows we've been bingeing — "Survivor" and "Gilmore Girls" are recent favorites — and share the things we're looking forward to, from a virtual "visit" with friends to a yummy takeout meal. Sometimes we just retreat into our own minds, thinking in parallel. It's time spent together I imagine I'll always remember.

May is typically our Mom & Baby Issue, timed to coincide with Mother's Day on Sunday, May 10. Though much of what you'll find in these pages is related to our current reality, we've tried to stick loosely to the theme. Read "Birth Contemplation," about what it's like to have a baby during a pandemic, both at home and in the hospital. You'll also find a sidebar that outlines some of the updated protocols at the University of Vermont Medical Center's Birthing Center. And in "Welcome, Babies," we share dispatches from local farms, where barnyard animals are still being born, adorable as ever.

In these pages, you'll also find articles about how COVID-19 has changed Vermonters' lives — from a Barre play space owner who's decided to shutter her business ("Getting By") to a mom of a kindergartner with Down syndrome contending with online education ("Use Your Words"). Other pieces are intended to help make these rocky times a little bit smoother, from tips on how to create a visual schedule ("Growing Up Green") to ideas for how to stay connected with grandparents ("Pop Culture").

If you haven't heard about our Good Citizen Coronavirus Challenge, check it out at goodcitizenvt.com. Every week, we're posting three activities related to history, news literacy and community engagement — all subjects that will help guide us through these tough times.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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