Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

Oh no, this can’t be happening right now, I thought to myself as I felt that nagging little tickle in my throat choking me up and the resistant flex in the rib cage. 

I was about to have a full-blown coughing fit.

In public.

During a pandemic.

With the most attributed symptom on full display.

I took a small sip of air in and it began. Behind my mask, my eyes squinted shut and the muffled barking sound went on for what felt like an eternity. I folded over my shopping cart and prayed it would end. 

Before I could even open my watery eyes, I could feel the red hot stares of the people around me. 

From behind their masks, I could see their side-eyed looks of disapproval, disgust, and panic. Not one single look of empathy or understanding among them. I could see the motions of whispering and pointed head nods in my direction. Every stare was questioning my presence, judging my reasoning for being in public, scanning my cart for some justifiable reason to have drawn me from the hazmat bubble I surely must’ve been living in. 

RELATED: It’s a Tough Time To Be a Hugger

Unfortunately for me, my seasonal allergies were taking an absolute beating at the same time as this global pandemic. Apparently pollen didn’t get the memo it needed to give us asthma sufferers a break this season. I wish they didn’t make me cough like Patient Zero in Outbreak, I really do, for many reasons. But, alas, they do.

I knew I should have worn a shirt that said “It’s not COVID” with a picture of my negative test results on it. Seems like it would’ve come in handy. 

The people in the store continued to stare like I was some inconsiderate, irresponsible citizen. How dare she? Doesn’t she know? Why is she here?

RELATED: I Was a Judgmental Christian

First of all, believe me, I know! You should see my Google search history. Second, I basically bathed in sanitizer to come out to the store, sprayed disinfectant on the mask I was wearing,  and have been social distancing akin to a severe agoraphobic. Third, I’m here at the store for the same reason as you; both essentials and creature comforts. I needed medicine but also coffee, dry shampoo, and a summer scented candle (that I’m too stuffy to smell, really, but I’m sure it’s amazing).

I wanted to take the intercom microphone and defend myself, tell the entire store, “It’s just a cough!” It wouldn’t have made a difference though and I was not prepared to end up on someone’s camera phone video to be added to an out of context stir meltdown reel on the internet. 

I just quietly held in the smaller coughs, straining and possibly herniating myself, but a hernia or pulled muscle felt like it would have been better than more of their ostracizing glares.

On my way out, I heard someone else doing the same kind of silent suffering cough and you know what I did? I just kept it moving.

I didn’t stop to pass judgment or speak hexes at a volume just low enough to be heard but not loud enough to be confronted. I just hoped that their cough was just a cough like mine and would go away soon. I didn’t damn them for their seemingly careless venture to the store; I just hoped they would find whatever they were looking for to feel better. 

RELATED: I’m Doing My Best Right Now and Believe Me, That’s Enough

I know it’s hard in these difficult times to take things at face value, which is increasingly complicated by the fact a person’s actual face is mostly covered. That being said, we still need to keep our common sense about us as people and remember that people can still get all the other variations of sickness and suffer from ailments—even during a pandemic.

Give a little more kindness and give less shade. Be a little more curious and not so accusatory. Try a little harder to understand because assuming is so effortless.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Nickey J Dunn

I'm a full-time wife, mom of three, employee, OCD Irish Aries. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, now living in Phoenix. I'm passionate about my family, writing, and writing about my family. Mental health, anti-bullying, and body-positive advocate. 

Celine Dion Announces Heartbreaking Diagnosis

In: Living
Celine Dion in Instagram video announcing diagnosis of stiff person syndrome

When the movie Titanic when was released in 1997, a gaggle of us as teen girls fell in love. Maybe it was Leonardo DiCaprio and his dreamy blue eyes. Maybe it was the tragic love story between Jack and Rose (still think there was room on that floating board for two, Rose). Whatever the case, we flooded the movie theaters (hi, I went three times) with our teenage tears.  And to this day, when the sad flute begins to wail at the start of “My Heart Will Go On” I crank up the volume and belt along with Celine Dion....

Keep Reading

Say “Alexa, Thank My Driver” and Help Holiday Workers Earn Cash? Done!

In: Living
Amazon package being delivered on doorstep

The actual air temperature when I woke up yesterday was -14F. It was the kind of morning when the air hurts your face, a phenomenon we northern states dwellers are well acquainted with.  Not half an hour later, I heard the rumble of a delivery truck outside. As I peeked out the window, I watched the driver jog up the driveway to place a package at our front door.  In the double digits below zero wind chill. Before 8 a.m. With an air of joy?! If it hadn’t been so early and cold, I would have opened the door to...

Keep Reading

The Holiday Season’s Hottest Dish: Boundaries

In: Living
Woman wearing Santa hat smiling

This holiday season as you’re making preparations for family visits, school parties, church events, food drives, travel, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and general merriment, you’re going to want to include this season’s hottest dish. You’ll recognize most of the ingredients as they’ve been around for a long time and they’re not hard to access, but to be fair, the recipe can be tough to follow at times. Placed just between your stuffed turkey and your stuffed calendar, be sure to make room for boundaries—the plate of protection that everyone is talking about this year.  The dish itself is fairly inexpensive to...

Keep Reading

It’s Exhausting Being a Teacher and a Mom in the Month of December

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom and two kids smiling by Christmas tree

I absolutely love Christmas. In fact, I start listening to Christmas music right after Halloween. I’m always itching to put decorations up as soon as my other family members are willing. I love the magic of the season, the giving and the meaning behind all of it. By the time November begins, I’m ready to take on the holidays in full force as both a teacher and a mom. If I’m being honest though, Christmas as a teacher mama is both magical and downright exhausting. There are parties for both my own children and my students. There are gifts to...

Keep Reading

Being a Working Mom When Kids Get Sick Is Complicated

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom holding baby on couch

I didn’t know what my ringtone sounded like until I went back to work after maternity leave. “You know it’s always on silent,” I would say every time I missed a call from my husband. “What’s the point of having a phone if you never answer your calls?” “Who calls these days? Text me like a normal person!” It was a circular conversation, lighthearted, and not intended to bring about change. He will always prefer to call, and I will always prefer to keep my ringer off. But when I got my first early pickup text from my daycare provider...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, If Something Feels Off, It Probably Is—Trust Your Intuition

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter black and white photo

A few weeks ago, my 7-year-old daughter was playing at a friend’s house when she messaged me on her game tablet to come pick her up. I didn’t ask why I just went to get her. I asked her once she was home how it was, and she told me she had a weird feeling and she was just “trusting her guts,” which I loved hearing her say. Apparently, her friend had a bunch of extended family show up at the house that we were unaware of. She is extremely outgoing, friendly, and confident so she thought nothing of listening...

Keep Reading

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

Netflix Drops “Harry & Meghan” Docuseries Teaser—and It’s a Doozy

In: Living
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry kiss in black and white candid image

We’re running out of time for surprises in the calendar year, but it looks like Netflix is poised to deliver one more—and it’s a big one.  The highly anticipated docuseries featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is ready and we’re getting our first glimpse.  And judging by the official teaser, it looks like this 6-episode series will be bringing the drama.  The one-minute teaser for Harry & Meghan opens with an off-camera voice asking, “Why did you want to make this documentary?” Music plays while black and white candid images of the pair flash...

Keep Reading

Dear Teachers, Thank You for All the Extra Things You Do at Christmastime

In: Living
Child hanging handmade snowman ornament in classroom

Dear teachers, I know this time of year is especially crazy for you. The weeks leading up to winter break are full of extras. There are festivities to invite siblings, parents, and grandparents to. You know how important that kind of family involvement and support is, and you’re so often the one who fosters it. There is crafting and present-making to ensure every student has something to gift to their loved ones on Christmas morning. It is so important to their little hearts to be able to give, and you’re the one who makes it possible.  RELATED: Dear Teachers, Thank...

Keep Reading

When Mom Died, We Had Tea

In: Grief, Grown Children, Living
Table set as a tea party with framed picture of a woman, color photo

My mom was never, ever without a cup of Lipton’s tea. Like a dear friend, it held her hand, kept her warm, provided comfort. She boiled water in her navy-speckled kettle, then poured it into a cup and, completely ignoring the recommended four-minute steep instructions, immediately lifted it to her lips. It always mystified me how her mouth didn’t suffer third-degree burns. Mom’s penchant for thriftiness compelled her to use the same tea bag multiple times; only when it disintegrated and leaf particles floated to the surface did she accept defeat and reach for a fresh yellow packet. RELATED: Moments...

Keep Reading