Connection, Isolation & Chocolate
Perspectives from a New Mom of 2 During the Pandemic
I don’t say this much, but I’m scared.
I’m exhausted – physically and mentally.
One week ago today, I went into labor and a short seven hours later, our second beautiful daughter was born, making Alex a big sister to Natalie. Officially now the matriarch of a family of four, I am sleep deprived, hormonal, and overwhelmed. Oh, and with my partners, trying to figure out how to keep our business afloat in our society’s new normal.
Reality – whatever that means – feels unreal. Or surreal. Something that I don’t quite have the words for. The state of affairs in this country and throughout the world has required a reset for some time. Is this a reset? We – as a society, and in our environment and ecosystem – are all intrinsically connected. It is imperceivable to fix one system without the others. In a way, that is why I chose a life of chocolate. The issues and nuances involved in the chocolate world are interconnected, complex, yet right in front of us. In a way, the problems in the chocolate industry represent the problems in our world. The solutions are a little more blurry, fluid. Yet, I constantly remind myself there are solutions.
Being isolated in my home with a newborn isn’t how I planned whatever maternity leave I would have from Laughing Gull Chocolates. The situation our world, our society is in is, in a word, terrifying. I know there have been negatives: looting, hoarding. Everybody is tense; anxieties are sky high.
We are in the midst of a tragedy – and I have a feeling it will not be short-lived. In spite of my own fear and anxieties, I’ve always been one to look for the silver lining. Today, I can see the sun through the clouds. For example, social media is helping neighbors find items they need to take care of their families: items like formula that may not be at the grocery store. On social media, nursing home staff are crowdsourcing to collect painted rocks to lift spirits among the elderly who may not receive visitors. In business networking groups, I’ve seen women provide one another with moral support, and help each other navigate potential SBA loans and insurance bureaucracies. Individuals and restaurants have offered donations of food and paper goods. Our local community is a beautiful thing.
Staying connected in these ways is good for the soul. It has been heartbreaking that my newborn hasn’t been able to meet our families in person – though they have met her via various forms of video chatting. In fact, I’ve spoken more to my family over the past week or two than I typically do. The forced social isolation leaves me wanting to connect more with loved ones locally and across the country.
And I’m spending more quality time with my husband and daughters, something I always wish I could do. I returned home from the hospital on Tuesday, and every day since then, our mornings begin with family cuddles. Alex wakes up early, and my husband Andy brings her into our bed, fulfilling her request for “snuggles with Mama” first thing in the morning. Natalie soon wakes up, hungry and ready to nurse, and the four of us cuddle in bed before breakfast. With the hustle and bustle of a typical morning, we would not have time for this. Social isolation has left us time to breathe and enjoy one another and the little moments that we usually rush through.
I know we will all get through this, but it won’t be easy. We will have to work together and support one another. Small businesses, who nationwide represent 44% of U.S. economic activity, will matter more than ever. Our coffee truffle, made with Joe Bean coffee beans and Pittsford Dairy heavy cream, or our chai truffle or salted caramel bites – any number of our chocolate products that use a myriad of local ingredients in a completed product – they make a difference. And we are proud to be a part of that chain. Our society might not be the same after this – and in truth, I hope things change. I want to see our community more connected. I want to be able to slow down and enjoy special moments with my family and friends. I hate that there is so much suffering and panic today, but if any good comes out of our social isolation, let it be remembering to connect with one another in a meaningful way. And I hope Laughing Gull Chocolates can be a part of that journey.
Meanwhile, I’ll be in physical isolation with my two girls and my husband, working hard to keep the business afloat from the backend. And forever grateful to my two business partners and treasured friends, Karla and Allison, who have truly been keeping Laughing Gull Chocolates running day to day during this crazy time. I am forever grateful that I have some time to recover and figure out being a family of four.
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