Mother’s Day is coming up, but it doesn’t feel quite right for Dawn Degeus.
The 39-year-old mother from Ancaster, Ont., will try to celebrate while one of her two kids actively avoids her.
“My daughter is 12 and has self-isolated herself in her room and she feels that I might come home with [COVID-19],” Degeus said.
As an assistant manager at a Hamilton Metro store, Degeus is more exposed than most who don’t have to work during the pandemic. Her job in a grocery store has planted a seed of worry in her daughter’s mind.
‘A stranger in your own house’
Isabella, Degeus’ daughter, cleaned out her room and sanitized everything. Although it’s becoming less worrisome to Isabella, the virus will make Mother’s Day harder for the family. COVID-19 fears already forced Degeus to celebrate Isabella’s 12th birthday from a distance.
It’s the kind of situation faced by many families who have found themselves with a family member on the front lines of the pandemic — with someone working in stores or industries that have had to stay open. Many have chosen some kind of isolation or separation from family members.
The grocery chain plans to recognize the work and sacrifices of mothers who work in its stores and plans to broadcast messages from loved ones to those working during the weekend over the PA system in stores .
“It completely breaks my heart, not to be able to hug your kid on their birthday or Mother’s Day, you feel like a stranger in your own house. You go home to your kids, but are you really there?” said Degeus.
The problem, she explained, has affected her fellow grocery store workers. Not because they don’t feel protected. In fact, soon she’ll be wearing a face shield or mask at work as the store has increasingly ramped up precautions for front-line workers.
“I’m like their mom, I want to make sure they’re safe,” Degeus explained.
She said the fear lies in the strangers they are exposed to and the paranoia that someone could get infected and lead to the virus spreading.
“People [who shop] look at you with a lot of fear, they want to keep their distance, but they look at you and smile and say thank you.”
Click or tap below to see the video Dawn’s family posted to thank her on Mother’s Day.
Other women who have kids and grandchildren are also feeling alone in the store.
Degeus’ mother doesn’t work in a grocery store, but she is no exception to the rule.
Degeus’ grandmother passed away shortly after Mother’s Day a few years ago, which makes this time tough for her family — it’s even tougher when they can’t see each other.
‘We’re needed. We’re appreciated’
Despite only starting in her role as assistant manager three weeks before the pandemic entered Hamilton, Degeus doesn’t regret getting the job.
“We’re needed. We’re appreciated more. Working for grocery store is important to society,” she said.
“Every day, we come, we smile and we try to pretend that nothing is really happening.”
But with the garden centres now open, she hopes to buy some flowers and bring them home to try and celebrate.
And Degeus knows her kids love her.
“My son thinks I’m a hero.”