This is a letter to the parents that have felt forgotten. To the parents of the littlest ones in our world. To the parents that are losing their minds on a daily basis during a pandemic. This is a letter to you. To let you know that you're not alone and that others are feeling the same as you. And to me as well. A mom of a two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, that has been in the thick of it right with you.
This is for parents of children under five. Parents who have been carrying the burden of protecting their families for so so long. This is a letter to let you know that there are others just like you. And to take a moment to reflect on where we are at this point. And to let you know the light at the end of the tunnel may finally be here.
So first of all, I see you. I see your exhaustion and I see your strength. I see your passion and your creativity. I see the love you have for your kids and how that is carrying you through. It hasn't been an easy ride for any of us, but going through this pandemic with little ones has been completely nuts. Our brains are toast from more than two years of mental load juggling, working with no childcare and little sleep.
Wondering if it is safe to play with someone, or somewhere. Not knowing if your child will be one of those unexpected cases that ends up in the hospital (or worse). The fear of not knowing and not having control has been like running on an uphill treadmill without an OFF button.
We felt left out
After years of waiting, things started to look better. Yes, vaccinations were here, but not for everyone. Not for our children.
When the rest of the world moved on, we didn't. When the world stopped requiring masks, we didn't. It wasn't over for us yet. We couldn't because of the tiny unvaccinated humans in our homes. Those unvaccinated not by choice, but by their age.
Nobody acknowledged our situation. Leaving parents like us feeling more lonely than ever. We felt forgotten. And helpless at the same time. The disappointing news headlines, clinical trial setbacks, and approval delays. It felt like the regulators were toying with our heartstrings.
But we didn't give up hope. Because we're parents. Our entire purpose is to create hope for our children's future. And so we kept on going. Back to isolation, back to making the tough calls about where and with who we can play with, and living our life as outdoors as possible.
A Day to Remember
Today I walked through the doors of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. With each of my children holding one of my hands. We didn't come because of an injury. We were there for a whole new purpose. We came because we had appointments for a safe and effective pediatric vaccine.
As we entered, I paused to reflect on how grateful I am for the work and research that enabled us to be here. How privileged I am to have made it through this pandemic and for my own health. I thought about the other children and families who have lost loved ones over the past two years. About how there are still so many parents in other countries that don't have access to vaccines like this. How lucky we are to be at this point.
When it was my children's turn for the shots, we walked into the clinic area. I looked next to us and saw a set of precious twins next to us that were about 18 months old. The twins were running around wild and giggling like typical toddlers.
"They haven't seen a lot of people the past year, so they are quite excited to be here," their mom said casually.
And when I heard those words, it hit me. I knew all too well what it has been like to be a mother of a baby and toddler over the past two and a half years. What it's like to live in relative isolation to protect them. I have probably said the exact same thing about 100 times.
I couldn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes and I began to cry behind my mask.
I cried tears of joy for the present. The moment of my children's vaccination that some days I thought would never arrive. I cried for the missed moments of joy and socialization that my children haven't had. I cried for the fact that my youngest son has never known a world where people didn't wear masks. I cried for the missed birthday parties, zoom holiday celebrations, and lost playdates. I cried because the fear of losing my children's lives to a terrifying virus was finally now behind me. I cried for all this. All at once. And for everything.
Let's Look Forward
This is a letter to celebrate now that we all finally made it here. We can take a moment to reflect and be grateful. We can leave our frustration and fear behind us. We as parents are no longer forgotten, we are here and we are an important part of the future.
We now have a way to give our families the protection that we've been craving for more than a year. Let's celebrate this milestone together. We deserve it.
I wrote this letter to give a voice to parents like me that have felt lost over the past two years. And with it, I’m proud to share that I’ve vaccinated my two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. If you'd like more information on pediatric vaccines, I recommend checking the CDC.
All parents will make their own decisions on whether to vaccinate their young ones and that is fine with me. I'm not here to debate or influence your decision. We’re all on the same journey as young parents doing the best we can.
Remember to be kind, respect each other's opinions, find the ways in which we are similar, and lift each other up in our journey through parenthood. As young parents, we are all way too busy for anything less than positivity.