how are you

We are OK!

This autumn has brought some strange days in my neighbourhood, strange time and strange events. It is mostly sunny, but now we perceive sun in a different way (because vitamin C...), we inhale the air differently (because the level of oxygen…), we check our networks, groups and media portals in the morning with the fear of the news, with the fear of numbers, because these numbers more and more have names and faces. In balancing our lives between chaos and the need for security and peace, everyone is finding their own ways, but one thing is for shore: we will all remember this time!

Following the various media reports in the past months, I have noticed that we lack these human stories and experiences, we don’t hear about human dramas that are happening to us and around us. You can learn about them from people close to you, because somehow, it is like we are embarrassed to talk about them publically.

I haven’t, for example, came across the story about single parents in the time of Corona and what it is like to one-parent families, especially if the children are young. I haven’t come across this story, but i have lived it and still am living it. 

From one side, we haven’t faced so many changes like others, and perhaps we are better prepared. Reduction in social interactions is a normal thing for us, not because we were afraid of the illness but because we had no time, and often, no energy for it. Curfew has no meaning for us as well, because we are already at home in the evening, with our kids going early to sleep and leave us alone with ourselves. So, isolation - as a way of living. Worrying about loss of job is also constantly present with those with the job on the first place, and it is a special kind of disaster for single parents them for most of the people because you are the only working person in your small family, as the other parent may not be alive, may be far away, may not be involved in the care about the child. In any case, it is not the same one you have only one person to deal with it. Worrying about the support of the society has long be gone, because you already know that the only support you have in our society for your situation is some one-time support from the Centre for social work (maybe!) and your local public kitchen. 

And also, who is going to bring you the bag from the grocery store if you get sick, if you need to go to hospital-who is going to take care of your child too young to be alone, should you leave the door unlocked tonight because something is hurting you in your chests, all are things to be taken care of by singe parents even before the corona time, and they probably already have a plan for it. Maybe you are lucky, like me, to have friends and family that would like to help you, but you don’t want to increase their or someone else’s risks! Or maybe you don’t have them and what then? Or how can you help someone else from that situation? Epidemic is ongoing since March in our country, but these are still unsolved problems of a growing number of people, and in single parent families with small children this is even greater challenge. Or, what it is like to be a parent of a child using medicines or needing therapy from another country, as this problem remained unsolved after the first lockdown, when these children were helped by good truck drivers who delivered medicines from hand to hand, with the help of social networks and not government.  

In many health ministries and crisis groups they haven’t remembered that we have these children, and they also haven’t done anything to prepare better for the next time. It was the easiest to shut down all systems, schools, kindergartens, and services and shut down the responsibility from the system that exists to help and support people. 

And above all this, no matter if these troubles have missed you or you have faced them and “somehow” resolved them, when people ask how you are doing, they will hear "I'm fine!" and “We are OK!” 

We don’t talk about it enough; we don’t ask minimal protection for our children which belongs to them just by being born, because we don’t want to accept the situation that we are not able to provide all they need by ourselves, even if we did all we possibly could. No one can do anything alone, and we have invented government and the state to make our lives easier and not harder! Therefore we should think well before we say that we are OK, because sometimes we are not OK, just because someone hasn’t done their job properly. It is especially important that this comes to those who haven’t done their jobs properly and to find out was it because they don’t know what to do, as we are silent about our needs and about our children’s needs. 

Author: Aleksandra Strbac

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