It’s been a very long time since I last blogged. My grand plans to document the daily minutiae of life as lived during a global pandemic were very quickly subsumed by the demands of actually living life during a global pandemic. Specifically and particularly the 24/7 responsibility for every aspect of my children’s physical, social, emotional, psychological and educational wellbeing. Plus in the early days just trying to track down flour, eggs and yeast could take many hours.
Things have moved on since then. Easing of restrictions meant that we had a summer which approached normality, albeit a somewhat distorted version. We could go and stay with my parents, but we had to stay 2 metres apart from them, so no hugs. We could see the children’s friends outside at the park but not inside for playdates. We could go out for day trips but face masks and sanitiser and a lingering sense of dread and paranoia came with us.
As we approached the end of the summer, I started to feel that mixture of emotions which I have come to recognise is the hallmark of parenting. I was DESPERATE for them to go back to school. Partly because I could see that they needed to be back with their friends, and back learning from people for whom long division is more than a theoretical and dimly remembered concept. But in large part also because I was desperate for some space for myself.
However I also started to reflect on the things I will miss about lockdown life. Relaxed family breakfasts, with 9am PE with Joe the only time constraint. I made a lot of pancakes during lockdown (once eggs returned to the shops) because we had time to sit and enjoy them. Relaxed family lunches, often in the garden, because one thing 2020 really blessed us with was sunny weather. (Until, of course, our week’s holiday at the seaside, but that’s another story.) The time we got to spend together, all four of us, which was occasionally irksome or draining, but more often delightful. Watching my younger daughter’s relationship with my husband really blossom. They have always loved each other, of course, but he started his own business when she was just turned one, and the demands of that meant he seldom made it home for a 7pm bedtime, so they didn’t get to see much of each other during the week, and as a result she was a bit of a mummy’s girl. Watching their bond grow as they have spent so much time together has made me very happy. Our daily walks, which meant we got to know our neighbourhood better than ever and gained a new appreciation of the little wonders on our doorstep. The camaraderie with neighbours as we Whatsapped to check in on each other, share food, collect shopping and clapped for the NHS each Thursday. One neighbour, a musician, even provided live concerts from his bedroom window which we could all watch, glass of wine in hand, from our front gardens.
The time which seemed infinite and overwhelming 6 months ago has passed, sometimes agonisingly slowly, but in retrospect feeling as though rocketed by.
And now they are back. Year One daughter is just thrilled to be back in school and back with her friends, and seems totally unfazed by the Covid secure guidelines which mean that school looks very different this year. Things are a bit more complicated for Year 7 daughter. I think the children going through transitions this year have had things very tough, and these aren’t the ideal circumstances to be starting at a new school. Many of the things she had looked forward to about secondary school – Science in a proper chemistry lab, Food Technology lessons where you got to cook things yourself, Drama lessons in a real studio, a plethora of after-school clubs and exciting school trips – are off the agenda for the time being, as all lessons take place in their form room, and clubs and trips are cancelled for the foreseeable future. On the bright side, at least she doesn’t have to face the perennial Year 7 terror of finding her way round a new school.
It all feels so precarious – one high temperature and we are all back at home isolating for a fortnight – that I feel a bit overwhelmed by what to do with my, potentially temporary, freedom. Do I write, write, write? Or give the house a sorely needed spring clean and declutter? Do I make coffee dates to catch up with the friends I have been missing? Do I sleep? Do I reorganise the home-school resources I flung into a cupboard in mid-July and haven’t looked at since? Do I look for a job to try and repair some of the damage the last 6 months have inflicted on our finances?
Like many people I want to resume the bits of our lives we have missed, generally the human contact with family, friends, colleagues and classmates, while also keeping some of the time for each other and for small domestic pleasures which we have enjoyed in lockdown.