North Carolina’s stay-at-home order has many local families fraying at the edges as they navigate the tricky terrain of nonstop togetherness. But Asheville single mom Meagan Taylor and her 7-year-old daughter, Fred, have found themselves forced to face the challenges of the pandemic while living physically apart.
Working full time as a certified nursing assistant at Mission Hospital while finishing nursing school at A-B Tech, Taylor realized soon after Gov. Roy Cooper closed the state’s schools in mid-March that she was going to have to make some tough choices about Fred’s care and online schooling. She was relieved when her daughter’s father’s parents, Montford residents Celene and Egg Syntax, stepped up to help.
“I wouldn’t be comfortable sending her to day care, and as a single mom, it would be impossible to afford a private babysitter for 40-plus hours a week,” says Taylor. “They’re my only option.”
But Egg is at higher risk for severe symptoms, and since Taylor didn’t want to chance inadvertently exposing him to COVID-19 through her job at Mission, the family took the arrangement to another level.
Since late March, Fred has been staying with her grandparents. They keep her occupied and active with plenty of craft and gardening projects, along with her online schooling, which Celene oversees.
Fred connects with her mom through frequent texting, videos, virtual chats on Google Hangouts and appropriately distanced in-person visits. All that, of course, means no physical contact — no hugs or kisses — which Taylor acknowledges is hard. But she’s clear that she’s incredibly grateful to have family support in balancing the demands of her situation.
“I am completely relying on my family right now,” she says. “I know a lot of people are feeling really, really stressed, but I’m just feeling stressed about passing the NCLEX and becoming a nurse. My family’s made this whole situation just a lot easier on me, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to function without them.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on May 7 at 10:56 a.m.
This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.