Doug Shipman is a father, husband of a doctor and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center.
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Doug Shipman is a father, husband of a doctor and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center.

All Things Considered on Georgia Public Broadcasting is featuring the voices of people reflecting on what this time of the coronavirus and social distancing means to them. From the safety of their homes where they're sheltering in place, they're recording themselves on their phones or computers and emailing the audio to host Rickey Bevington.

Doug Shipman sends this audio postcard about being a father and a husband to a doctor working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Doug Shipman is a father, a husband to a doctor and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. He shares this commentary about having a spouse who's working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep listening to All Things Considered on Georgia Public Broadcasting for more personal audio essays from people talking about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing.

Commentary from Doug Shipman

There are two kinds of days for my family during this time of staying home.  The days I wake up, make the coffee, stir my 8 and 5-year-old daughters from their beds and get ready for another day of virtual school, zoom calls with colleagues, finding something special to cook to raise everyone’s spirits and making the best of a tough situation. 

These are the normal days within our abnormal times.

Then there are the days where my wife isn’t here. We are living through two weeks of those days right now.  Those are the days I take care of the girls alone while waiting each day for an update from the medical front line. 

You see, my wife is an emergency physician at Grady Memorial Hospital and we have decided that during and after her stints of shifts treating dozens of COVID-19 patients every day she will stay elsewhere, alone, to keep us healthy — a double sacrifice.

She and her colleagues have volunteered for extra shifts, dealt with equipment shortages and have worried about their own health while caring for others.  As a spouse, I do my best to make sure the house runs smoothly, the kids’ hair is combed for our Facetime sessions with mom and that we do our part to lessen her stress (clean bathrooms get us bonus points). 

I’m reminded from these experiences that we never really know what our neighbors or friends are dealing with — I think about those who have watched loved ones from afar battle the virus, those who have health conditions that we can’t ... and the kids, who know something is deeply wrong but don’t have the experience to put it into any context. 

I’m not sure I have a way to help them understand except to tell them how their mom is a hero and how we do our part to help by brushing our teeth, washing our hands and keeping a good attitude even though story time is through the computer on those nights she is away.

The frontlines in this battle are not only the hospitals, but the grocery store lines, the UPS deliveries, the manufacturing plants of essential goods. 

I’ll be giving my frontline heroine a big hug in a couple of weeks when she returns home to us. I hope you’ll thank your frontline friend or family today and maybe their partner, too.