“Take extra clothes to work, wear regular clothes to work then change into uniform once at the station, don’t forget your bookbag, make sure you grab enough food to avoid having to order out since the rig doesn’t fit thru the drive-thru, grab all of your gear, oh and don’t forget your mask, mask cover, glasses side shields, and thermometer probe cover.”
All of those thoughts run through my head once my alarm goes off at 0545 before a shift, some of which are normal every shift thoughts but some are new because we are fighting a pandemic. I’m one of the frontline workers who aren’t able to work from home, which if I’m being honest, I’m glad my field doesn’t allow me to work from home. Work for me is rather enjoyable (normally).
I’m in a field where the reward outweighs the “tough days”.
I’m a firefighter/ EMT on two separate local fire departments and I’ve been in the field a little over four years now, so I’m still just starting in my career. If you ask anyone within the fire service who has many years under their belt, I’m right next to coworkers with 20 plus years in, they have also never experienced a pandemic like this while working the job. I knew what I signed up for when I chose this as my career; more so as my passion. I knew I wanted to be a firefighter early on before I was a Mom. What I didn’t know was that a virus could bring more fear, anxiety, and worry than running into a burning building ever could.
I never envisioned this.
Don’t get me wrong, every day that I come onto shift I’m reminded that I need to come home safe to my little girl but before this pandemic, I wasn’t as worried about it; before it was just part of the job. Now I’m more worried about my exposure and the fact I could bring it home to her. Not just from what I may or may not come into contact with at work but also because of those who aren’t taking this seriously. I’m an adamant believer in the “We come to work for you, Stay home for us” slogan that’s spread like wildfire through this trying time. Put yourself into the shoes of those of us on the outside looking in, those of us that don’t get to be “stuck at home” with our loved ones during all of this.
I never imagined during my career that I would be stripping all of my work clothes off on my back porch, leaving my work bag, lunch box, clothing, and boots out there to be Lysol sprayed down before even being moved to the washer. Or the fact I would have to say “Hi” to Teagan from a distance and go right to the shower before I could even hug her or ask her how her day was. Twelve to twenty-four-hour shifts are already long enough without the added decon time needed. I’m a single mom, working those shifts and trying to fit in parenting time, quality time, and not to mention now being a homeschool teacher on top of it; every minute I get with her counts.
I also never imagined during my career that because of me going to work to support us and do what I love my daughter could get sick.
Do I feel guilty about going to work? Absolutely. Do I wish I could just stay home to protect her? Yeah, sometimes. Do I feel guilty for wanting to stay home knowing it comes with the job to put yourself in harm’s way? Well, obviously, yes. Does it drive me crazy seeing people complaining about “being stuck at home”? OMGosh, yes! I can’t change any of that though, especially during all of this. All I can do is get up, go to work, and pray that I can protect myself and my daughter the best I can while still supporting our household.
I know that everyone is struggling during this COVID-19 pandemic in their way.
This comes from a single Mama who is working the frontline trying to do what I love and protect the people of my community while still protecting myself and my own family to the best of my ability. I just hope everyone considers that during all of this. Don’t take for granted the extra family time, or snuggles you may get right now. As they say about children growing up, it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.
You never know what tomorrow could bring. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every day I walk out of my house during this; I question just what might happen. What if I come in contact and have to quarantine or even worse have to isolate? Who will care for my little girl? How will I support us? As if everyday “part of the job” thoughts aren’t enough. Add those in. So during this time, please be considerate to others around you, everyone is struggling through this. Stay positive, be cautious, and stay healthy. We are in this together and will get thru it.