There’s not a single person or place that hasn’t been impacted by the coronavirus in some way, shape or form. Daily life can feel incredibly lonely and stressful. To help keep us connected, we’ll be sharing stories of real people dealing with this new way of life. Want to be interviewed or know somebody whose story we should share? Send us an email at [email protected].
Ingrid Chen McCarthy has cried every day for the last two weeks — pretty much since her two kids’ preschool and daycare centers closed due to the coronavirus.
“The stress of thinking like, How am I going to manage full-time work and childcare?” McCarthy explains via video chat. “It’s just crazy. The other big thing is that we are adjacent to the restaurant world and our entire group of friends are out of jobs or are having to close their businesses.”
She’s already cried today, around 2 a.m. when her 20-month-old son, Milo, wouldn’t go to sleep. But that was hours ago and now she’s having to juggle work, caring for her two kids and planning ways to celebrate her daughter Mabel’s fifth birthday.
“We had tickets to go see Cirque Du Soleil at the coliseum,” McCarthy explains. “And then that got canceled.”
During the beginning of the video chat, Mabel walks into the room and shows off her new big-girl dress covered in flowers. She holds up her palm, fingers spread wide, to show how old she is today.
“She loves birthdays, and she loves parties,” McCarthy says about Mabel. “So we’re trying to figure out what to do but she’s also really adaptable. She hasn’t really blinked.”
McCarthy says that Mabel and her husband Jeff started working on her birthday cake yesterday. McCarthy and her husband co-own Breadservice, a local bakery, and have a tradition of making elaborate cakes for celebrations. Today, they’re making a Toothless cake based on the character from the popular How To Train Your Dragon movie franchise.
And while her daughter doesn’t seem to be as affected by the changes to her lifestyle, McCarthy shares with refreshing honesty how hard things have been for her personally.
“It’s just unmanageable,” she says. “I keep talking with a lot of other parents who are in the same boat and we’re like, This is crazy.”
In addition to helping market and maintain the social media for Breadservice, McCarthy also works full-time for her family’s business, Kilop USA, a fiber and textile supplier. She volunteers for the local farmers market and is working to manage her kids’ schoolwork too. She recently found out that her sister’s husband, who works as a public high school teacher in New York City, contracted coronavirus. Plus, there’s the added devastation of both local and national racist incidents against Asians like McCarthy.
Thus the crying.
Still, she says she’s incredibly privileged in these times and understands that so many others are going through worse experiences than her family is.
“I feel like I’m experiencing all of the stages of grief right now,” McCarthy says. “It’s weird for me to talk about my experience because I know that I have it so much better than most people. I’m very privileged. At the end of this, financially, we’ll be fine. But this is financially devastating for many people including some of my close friends and I just don’t know. How do you manage all of that and deal with being by yourself?”
She says that continuing to see her therapist regularly through virtual calls and crying has helped.
“I’m trying to regulate my own anxiety and fears and having a good cry about it is the only thing that’s been helping,” she says. “And sometimes, that doesn’t help.”
She’s also been working out with a personal trainer through FaceTime which she says has been helpful in managing her stress.
And even though it’s been a challenge, she says that having her kids at home has actually been helpful. She just wishes that she could have fully celebrated Mabel’s milestone.
“There’s so many bad things that are happening but these kind of small things that are happening are impactful too because they are losses of daily celebrations,” she says.
Later today, she’s set up Zoom calls with family to celebrate Mabel’s birthday and this weekend, her family plans to do drive-by greetings with family friends and neighbors.
- Favorite thing eaten in quarantine: Takeout from Machete! Their roasted olives with the whole grain honey mustard is an umami bomb. And their double fried chicken sandwich.
- Quarantine silver lining: Working from home full time with the kids home too has been less shitty than I thought. It’s been nice to have extra time with the family.
- What you are watching/reading/listening to: Jeff is finally watching “The Office” so I am watching with him and I also got into the Reply All podcast. The most recent episode features someone from Greensboro!
- Words of encouragement: I think we should be okay with the fact that this is really hard and we should not be ashamed of admitting that and we should be willing to talk about how hard this is. We’re not alone.