I had thought parenting during COVID-19 was stretching our mental health and patience to the limit. Then the fires hit. At least with COVID-19 we could mask up and go for walks as a family. My husband and son would take runs around the area and we would all take bike rides through the neighborhood. But now, we can’t even really go outside. When we do venture into the backyard to pick from our still thriving tomato and squash plants, we have to tell the kids they can’t just pop the tomatoes in their mouths like they used to. We have to explain it is because there are too many chemicals on them from the fires.

These are challenging times for everyone and it can be hard staying inside but now we must, not only to protect others around us and ourselves from a pandemic that has already taken nearly 200,000 lives in this country, but because yesterday the Bay Area had the worst air quality anywhere in the world.

We cannot ignore climate change. It is literally staring us in the face every day and burning our lungs. It will not get better on its own. The worst part about it is that the things we would normally do to combat global warming are no longer an option, as we are facing the effects of global warming. For example, you would normally hear suggestions that you ride your bike instead of drive your car. Or carpool. However, neither of these are feasible right now because of terrible air from the fires and the spread of COVID-19, respectively. Or, we might be told, don’t spend your days inside, working in front of a computer, go outside, take some walks, let the kids run outside. Again, not possible.

Honestly, it is a very trying and depressing time. Especially for a community like ours that loves being outdoors. But we must believe we can get through this. That we will get through this. Though we might not see them as often as we used to, our friends and neighbors are still there, right next door, and they are struggling, too. Pick up the phone and make that connection. Remind them they are not alone, and one day we will be able to visit them in person, watch our kids play together, and actually see the mountains again.