On Feb, 26, when Joanna Lewis Walton gave birth to Journey Gracelynn Walton, the delivery was relatively uneventful.
Shortly after they came home, COVID-19 changed life as they knew it, including the fact that she will not be able to traditionally celebrate Mother’s Day – church and dinner – as new mother because COVID-19 related restrictions.
When Walton and her husband, Andre Walton Sr., brought their baby daughter home, their family felt complete.
A.J was getting to know Journey, but a bout with the flu forced A.J. to be separated from his mom and sister.
After his father nursed him back to health, little family settled into a daily routine. But by the time Journey was turning 6 weeks old, everything changed.
“The school children were released early that week when spring break was starting,” said Walton. “I had been in the house with my children since leaving the hospital. That’s pretty normal for a new mother. I was rebuilding my strength and trying to get Journey into a good feeding and sleeping routine.”
More and more, there was talk about a “novel coronavirus,” and Walton took some interest in keeping up with the growing numbers of new cases in America.
For a time, none had been confirmed in the state of Tennessee, or in Shelby County. When that changed and the number of local cases began to rise, they were unrelated cases of people who had traveled, or come in contact with someone who had recently traveled.
“We were just nesting while my husband continued to work,” Walton said. “But when community spread hit Memphis and Shelby County, I understood just how dangerous this COVID-19 was.
“I have kept my children isolated from everyone, except their grandparents. With the safer-at-home orders, we continue to shelter in place. The four of us have created our own little world inside the house.”
Walton graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in professional studies. She marked her fourth wedding anniversary on March 19, her birthday on April 20, and now, Mother’s Day on Sunday — all celebrated inside the house.
“All of my special days come in springtime each year,” she said. “My anniversary, my birthday, and Mother’s Day — it feels strange not being able to celebrate them like we had planned. There will be no special date nights or family trips.
“On Mother’s Day every year, we were always in church. Life has changed so drastically, and I don’t know when things will return to normal — or if they ever will,” she said.
Andre Sr. has used this time of “nearly unlimited overtime” to build a nest egg that will come in handy when the family moves to a large house this summer, if things are a bit safer.
“I would love for my children to play outside,” Andre Sr. said. “I would love to run around the yard with my son and toss a ball to him. But he is young enough that staying inside won’t affect him so much. I thank God he will have very little memory of this time.”
Walton has been optimistic as a new mother caring for two, young children. She has been home-schooling A.J. since his first birthday. Walton has gotten accustomed to the rambunctious 2 year old tearing about the house. He has a lot of energy, but he can’t play outside.
“We have been blessed, and I can really see an end to this virus,” Walton said. “As a mother, it is my job to prepare our children for a bright future. My son will be three in the fall, and already, he can count to 60, recite the alphabet, and name his colors.
“I am now teaching him to read. Our children emulate what they see. They are hopeful because we remain hopeful. Mother’s Day is going to be a wonderful day. God is still in control.”