Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on motherhood in the legal profession, in partnership with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Lindsay Kennedy back to our pages.
As life continues here in South Korea, the panic and desperation that was recently palpable has subsided. The overwhelming panic has turned into exhaustion. We are now living in our new norm.
Each day my phone makes loud screeching noises numerous times providing me with an “Emergency Alert” written in Korean. I do a screen shot and translate all of them. On Saturday, I received 31 “Emergency Alerts.” Sometimes I receive three alerts in three minutes, each giving slightly more information or the same information. I do wish the person in charge of sending these alerts would slow down, but I am grateful to feel like I am informed.
Every time there is a new case of the Coronavirus in my area, I receive an Emergency Alert message. Then, I get the person’s age and gender. A little later, a detailed itinerary of the exact locations and times the infected person traveled is released. On Sunday morning, the message stated (using Google Translate): “We recommend refraining from religious groups such as churches and replacing them with family worship or family prayer.” One series of messages discussed a big sale on masks.
I keep translating every message though. I want to remain informed. Plus, I’m slightly nervous North Korea might want to take advantage of the situation here — another aspect of our normal life. Note: I have no actual knowledge regarding this, it is just my own paranoia.
All the Korean schools and daycares in our area are still closed as required by the Korean government. The Americans have followed suit since last week closing all schools, childcare options, playgroups, library story time, and anything where groups of kids (and grown-ups) get together.
The school is sending detailed lesson plans for parents to do with their children. After only a few days I can confirm that I was never meant to be a Kindergarten teacher. The school will announce if it is closed next week every Friday. I am dreading that announcement because I am guessing I will be a Kindergarten teacher for all of March.
On day one, with everything closed, some friends chose to completely isolate themselves. They were scared and isolation provided a means of control. It’s funny though, because on day two, all the kids were outside playing. I laugh to myself, thinking that having all the kids inside, all day long, is far scarier than the slim chance of catching the coronavirus.
My neighbors are stepping up to help one another. We take turns watching the swarms of kids that run our tiny American neighborhood. It reminds me of my childhood in the 1980s.
In the midst of this lockdown, my husband is working long hours, as the military often does. The walls feel like they close in a little each day.
The military is doing an amazing job of keeping families informed, using social media in the perfect manner. When a problem arises, they are quick to address it. New protocols to get on base (checking everyone’s temperature and a series of questions) led to lengthy lines. Within one day, the problem was alleviated. Every day, we can watch a Facebook live “show” that provides updates and dispelling rumors before they can grow. In addition, the empty commissary shelves were restocked in only one day.
It is interesting to see the changes this virus has caused — masks everywhere, hand sanitizer hanging from elevator rails and on every available counter.
The airports and train stations still have thermal scans set up. The public buses that pass by my neighborhood continue to be empty.
The panic is gone. We are in lockdown mode. We are not to go anywhere except to grocery shop, get necessary supplies, or get take out. I thought it was funny that “take out” made the list of necessary activities. Recently, the on-post bowling alley, movie theater, and Texas Roadhouse were opened so we might venture out.
Everyone keeps saying to each other, “Be safe.” I keep thinking it’s easy to stay safe, much harder to stay sane.
Lindsay Kennedy recently took a position with Eaker Perez Law, doing exclusively U.S. federal tax law. She is also the Executive Director of MothersEsquire. Lindsay’s favorite thing, besides her family, is working to support changes in the legal profession to allow for more non-traditional options so both parents are afforded the opportunity to enjoy their family. She’s a proud mom of two beautiful girls and married to a loving and supportive husband. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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