The following excerpt is written by Dr. Janienne Kondrich.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 05 – May 2022
“Healing must feel something like this.”
I’m cooking dinner while my nine-year-old daughter fills me in on the day’s highlights. She and her older sister recently returned to in-person school in New York City. Without reprieve from COVID fears or return of a remote learning option, I had homeschooled them most of the second year of the pandemic. Despite the obvious challenges that accompany acting as a fourth and sixth grade educator within the confines of a two-bedroom apartment, all while working full-time as a pediatric emergency physician, I absolutely loved it. Although there are countless things the pandemic has taken from us, it has given me the gift of time with my girls.
My older daughter was only six weeks old when I returned to my final year of residency. My husband and I welcomed a second child less than three years later while I was in fellowship; this time I had eight weeks at home. After the birth of both girls, the demand was at first physical: sleep a few hours per night, remain on your feet while you recover from growing and delivering a human, maintain your milk supply because at least— at least—it’s one way you can still nurture your baby.
As they grew older, the challenge morphed into a psychological one. The following years brought a tension between dedication to my career and the knowledge I was missing key moments of their childhoods. I continued riding on the merry-go-round familiar to many that next week will be better, less busy.
The pandemic brought all of it to an abrupt halt—no more sports practices, birthday parties, or playdates. Previously, in the brief pockets of time when I was home, they were out. Now, I had more time with my girls than I ever had before. And somehow, amid the fear and uncertainty, and the increased and changing demands at work, I found the peace at home I had been looking for.
Over the last couple years, we baked many loaves of banana bread, went on nighttime walks to see the illuminated Manhattan skyline, watched movies, and played board games. Interspersed among it all were conversations about friendship, life, and predictions for the fourth season of Stranger Things. I am involved in what they are learning, and we cuddle at bedtime most nights. We are more connected now than ever before.