Silver Lining Stories: Amy Shavelson

Amy Shavelson, Co-Director of Interior Design, Hickok Cole Architects

The timing is great for a Covid narrative, as I pack to return home to Maryland after 5 months at my parents’ house in New Jersey. I came here in March, with two weeks of clothing that I quickly packed and loaded into the car during my then 21 month old’s Sunday afternoon nap. Two weeks into my attempt to work from home while parenting solo proved nearly catastrophic at times as my daughter basically supervised herself. I resisted the decision at first, even as I thought of it as a 1-2 week measure. I never expected to stay here for 5 full months!

As much as I resisted coming here at first, there is no real effort required to identify the silver linings of this time. For the first few months I was here, my mother and I were both working from home in adjacent rooms while my retired father was put to work as an early childcare provider for his granddaughter. The first few days, he “hit traffic” making his way downstairs earlier than he’s had to in the past and there were some slow starts to the early days, but in no time, we settled into a groove.

“Pop” was frequently spotted building LEGO’s next to Piper, taking her out to the swing he’d hung from a tree in the yard, preparing her lunches, and bringing her upstairs for her afternoon nap. While I sat on 10-12 hours of non-stop videoconference calls, I heard them interacting through the baby monitor as Piper gained momentum in her vocabulary and sentences evolved from one-word statements into full-length independent thoughts. Prepared lunches appeared on my desktop, courtesy of mom, and we had dinner as a family every single night. My mother and I formed a nightly tradition of ice cream, Oreos, and Netflix after Piper went to bed. Yes. Nightly. Every single night. For the last 5 months.

In April, we celebrated my mom’s birthday as a family. In May, we celebrated Piper’s 2nd birthday and my dad’s as well. We were here for Rosh Hashanah, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and July 4th. Never before have we been together through so many milestones of the year. Even better than that, turns out we all really like each other and have enjoyed all this time together!

When my mom, who runs an early childcare facility, was returning to work where they were reopening for infants and toddlers only, we were able to snag a spot in one of the toddler rooms. For the last 5 weeks, Piper has spent her days with a few other children and two wonderful teachers where she has easily reacclimatized to a social environment and been stimulated by new experiences and exposures.

Piper’s preschool is reopening at the end of August, which is prompting our return. We are taking a week of vacation to settle back into our home and enjoy some time, just the two of us, before getting back to some version of life. I am so grateful that we had this time with family that would never have been possible under other circumstances. Piper is so lucky to have had this time with her grandparents. I am so lucky to have had their help so I could continue working and keep her supervised and safe. Our relationships have been strengthened across the board and it’s been awe-inspiring to be able to observe Piper’s growth on a daily basis—physically, emotionally, and intellectually. While it has been hard in so many ways, our silver lining runs deep.

©2020 Erin Kelleher Photography

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