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The Sign I Made My 5-Year-Old to Ward Off COVID-19 Mommy Shamers

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Editor's Note

BellaRose, the 5-year-old girl in the photos embedded in this article, has given permission for her photos to be used.

Due to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that causes symptoms like dry cough, fever and shortness of breath, things nowadays are far from the normal. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store have put so much more stress on everyone — especially single parents like myself. In a time where only one adult alone should go out for essentials, that can be impossible for someone who is sheltering-in-place with a small child.

After about three weeks of staying at home with my 5-year-old daughter BellaRose, not only were we getting cabin fever, but we were running low on essential items such as food, soap and toilet paper. Although three weeks ago we were able to order curbside, unfortunately it didn’t go as smoothly as we thought it would. Ordering a shopping cart of $160 worth of groceries turned into a pick up of only $40 worth. Many items were substitutions. And let’s face it, anyone who has young kids knows how picky they can be when it comes to food. So not only did I get only a small amount of my grocery list, most of the items I received weren’t the staples I really needed (like eggs, milk and bread).

Being a small business owner of a local tattoo and piercing shop that I had already shut down for the safety of myself, my artists and our families, I no longer had any income coming in. So paying for and receiving items I wasn’t going to be able to use was very frustrating for me. But regardless of that, three weeks later I did attempt to order the curbside again knowing it was probably the best thing to do in this current situation. It didn’t take long to find out that it was nearly impossible to get a time slot for curbside pick up due to such a high demand and everyone using that service. The closest slot available was two weeks out. So I realized I had no other choice but to take my 5-year-old with me to grab the basics that we would need for the next several weeks.

I was obviously worried about our safety, but I was also worried about being shamed for bringing my daughter to the grocery store with me. I had seen so many posts on social media shaming parents for bringing their kids with them on shopping errands. Granted, some of these pictures featured parents and kids with no protective gear on, but I realized how easy it would be for someone to share a picture of me and my daughter at the grocery store, not knowing the facts of our situation.

So I had an idea. I spoke with my daughter and told her we were going to do a step-by-step for other parents of what to do to protect yourself and your children if they have to go out in public. Of course my daughter, who loves to take pictures, was more than happy to model the steps for me.

During that process I wrote out a signed that read, “I am only 5: I can’t stay home alone so I have to buy groceries with Mommy… Before you start judging STAY BACK 6 FEET!” I found it to be kind of humorous but also let people know she is out here with me because as a single mom, I have no other choice. I hoped this would encourage people to keep their rude comments to themselves.

????????????The sign I made her wear cuz i just know some dumbass will take a picture & talk shit on social media not knowing all…

Posted by MaryAnn Fausey Resendez on Monday, April 6, 2020

From there we proceeded to use all the proper protective equipment we had and documented the step-by-step the precautions we took. Below, you can read our process for going out anywhere:

Step 1: Have all your PPE and sanitizers ready.

Step 2: Properly don mask and gloves.

Step 3: Wipe down sanitize shopping cart.

Step 4: If you have to take your child with you, place them securely in the clean shopping cart.

Step 5: Limit contact with others and only touch what you need to. 

Step 6: Place shopping bags in trunk.

Step 7: Open vehicle doors

Step 8: Remove your gloves and place them in trash or a separate bag.

Step 9: Sanitize hands (if possible).

Step 10: Put on a new pair of gloves and carry all items onto the kitchen table, then remove from bags.

Step 11: If possible, leave shoes at the door.

Step 12: Sterilize and sanitize most items by spraying them down (Lysol, Clorox, etc.) Please do not spray produce items with sanitizing products.

Step 13: Spray down everything you touched (especially door knobs, lights, keys, cell phone and credit cards).

Step 14: Without touching anything, dispose of your gloves

Step 15: Remove dirty clothes and place in a designated area (I like to place directly in the washer). Take a shower if possible.


Posted by MaryAnn Fausey Resendez on Monday, April 6, 2020

We proceeded to our local grocery store and even as I entered, I was noticing lots of looks our way. But I continued to hold my head up high and do my grocery shopping as quickly as we possibly could. I kept telling my 5-year-old to keep her hands in the shopping cart and not touch anything — which anyone who has small children knows is very hard for them to do! But after informing her of how dangerous it could be even though she had gloves on, she managed to get out of the store without touching one item.

When we returned home, I put all of the pictures together and wrote my post on Facebook. I showed her the pictures and post prior to posting to get her approval of course. The next day I realized it was being shared and so many people were commenting on it. And within a few days, it went viral. It wasn’t long before I realized there are so many single mothers out there dealing with the same or similar situations. Almost all of the responses and comments I received were positive, but of course there’s always 1% who had something negative and sometimes very ignorant to say. Although I tried very hard not to respond to any of the negative comments, there were one or two that hit a nerve. One particular comment that brought me to tears said, “Maybe you should think about getting pregnant by a man who’s actually going to stick around instead of some loser that just leaves you as a single mom.” After I composed myself, I responded, “Not that it’s any of your business and I shouldn’t have to explain myself to anyone as ignorant as you, but my daughter’s father passed away after she was born.” 

This experience really was an eye-opener for me realizing I am not alone — there are so many women who don’t know me who were quick to respond and defend me in some of those negative comments. So many more who shared their similar experiences with me, and some of them literally brought me to tears. And I’m sure there’s so many more people out there who are going through the same thing and I’m sure it is probably harder on some than others. I’m sure there’s plenty of single mothers out there with several small children, who are stressed out and wondering how they are supposed to go out and get essentials, especially when a lot of stores only allow one adult per family. You can’t leave small children alone at home, so what option are they left with but to take them? Not everyone has family to help them. Not everyone’s situation is the same. 

Unfortunately, we are living in a world that many of us assume without ever making an attempt to understand or assess the situation. We are too quick to react, insult, reprimand and use social media to judge and shame, not realizing the damage we may be doing to someone who is already so overwhelmed, frustrated, lonely, sad and stressed out in these crazy times. Instead of doing that, I think we all need to realize not everyone has the same opportunities or privileges that we do.

Instead of judging, giving ugly looks and insulting people because they don’t have it as “together” as we think we do, we need to start doing something to help. Of course some people may be able to do more to help than others, but we can all do something. Even a kind word or gesture in these lonely times can make a big difference in someone’s entire day. A simple smile is always best if there’s nothing else you can do. I find myself smiling all the time then I realize I’m wearing a mask, so I drew a happy face on mine and my daughter’s. Although it might not have the same effect as seeing an actual smile, it’s the thought that counts! There are so many little things we can do for one another if we just use our imaginations and come together as a nation to pick each other up and not put each other down. This is the time to make a difference.

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Originally published: April 24, 2020
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