Marcia Kent spends long hours at work, then returns to a trailer rather than to her family in their Vancouver Island home.
Kent is staying apart from her husband and their twin boys while working in the emergency department of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, recently designated as one of two Vancouver Island frontline COVID-19 hospitals.
“The decision to self-isolate by staying in a travel trailer on my property was a heartbreaking yet necessary one,” she said. “My husband is caring for our children on his own and it breaks my heart. I needed to make sure he’s safe to do that. It is equally hard on him navigating a new home routine, virtual schooling, meals and entertaining two active young boys while worrying about his spouse at work.”
She spent a week with her children during spring break before moving into the trailer — time full of family movie nights and board games.
“My sons and I made hearts to put up in our front window together thanking all the essential service workers in our community,” she said. “When the trailer was set up, my sons and husband surprised me with a pink neon heart light to shine through my trailer window and a cinema lightbox that reads ‘our mom is a nurse.’”
Kent, who has deep roots in Qualicum Beach — her grandmother was born there 100 years ago, has been adapting by Facetiming her kids and watching them play from a distance.
“I try to watch my kids from a very safe distance jump on the trampoline or play basketball in the driveway. It’s not the same though,” she said. “I don’t get to hug them, that is the hardest part, especially when in tough times, families just want to be together.”
She said it’s a balancing act between being grateful and dealing with difficult feelings that come with being apart from her children.
“I’m envious of the moms I see on my social media learning new hobbies like baking bread, tackling long-awaited home renos, hanging out with their families, or having the opportunity to work from home,” she said. “I also try to remind myself that despite everything, I’m very fortunate to have a secure job when so many have been laid off or shut down their businesses.”
Her husband Peter Kent (who worked as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s double in Terminator and other films), said it’s been important for him to focus on the positive — he said a lot of people don’t have the means to isolate from their families when needed, or don’t have another parent that can take on a more full-time role.
“She has the biggest heart out of anyone I know. We all miss her and are trying to make the best of it,” he said.
The twins, Ryder and Hunter, understand why their mom needs to isolate and are doing their best to adapt. They leave notes and make videos to try and cheer her up, but said what they want most right now, “is for this to be over so we can go back to being a family again.”
While Marcia Kent continues to go to work, she said it’s imperative that people keep staying home.
“For me, being a frontline healthcare worker during COVID-19 feels like an invisible global war of our generation. I feel prepared yet scared of the unknown,” she said. “We are very fortunate compared to other areas in the world, however, it is imperative we keep adhering to social distancing guidelines and continue being cautiously optimistic.”