Going into lockdown was easy for me; not because I already worked from home, but because I was already ill with the virus.
Lockdown was a no brainer and the first of my lockdown lessons was how dreadful the virus felt, and I completely gave into looking after myself and being poorly. I haven’t been tested, haven’t become a confirmed case and there was opportunity, when I had to go for a chest scan to make sure I was winning. Trust me, I worked dam hard to make sure I won too. The virus raged inside me and affected every inch of my body. From stinging eyes, a burning mouth and the vilest putrid odour coming out of my pores to the more known constant cough and intense flu symptoms.
After 10 days, the worst was over and although exhausted, I attempted to gain some semblance of ‘normal’. There were still bad days, but at least I had good days too.
Now I could appreciate what I’d gained. We’d been in isolation as a family for two weeks when the rest of England joined us. We’d missed the panic buying saga and getting hold of paracetamol was virtually impossible. Schools had closed and my hubby was already being shielded as well as isolated, and now worked from home. September onwards most years, I grumble how much I dislike the school run and how little time I have with my family. Here they were now, constantly.
Another of my lockdown lessons, there is no such thing as too much family time. It was two weeks to the Easter break, I still wasn’t ‘well’ and there wasn’t a chance I was doing any schoolwork with my kids when I’d just been so unwell. Movies, bored games and cooking commenced.
Life had radically changed, and I was acutely aware that kids, not just mine; particularly primary aged kids, where missing out on their usual build up to the Easter break. Plus, I was extremely sensitive to the fact that anyone suffering with the virus, could be having a really awful time. Furthermore, anyone who struggled with health anxiety, as I do myself, could potentially be in orbit with the stress of ‘what if’ and the greatly reduced access to support. Cue the birth of the Easter drawing competition for kids, and the zentangle video I created as an offering to support wellbeing.
Jake couldn’t really participate in the drawing competition, I explained, so he had to be a judge with me. Pride at his new status was enough and he enjoyed the task immensely.
While my eldest was initially relieved at this new ‘no school’ status, the dramatic shift in his life has affected him. Separated from his girlfriend, GCSEs cancelled and no control over his future; Ben now seemes adrift.
Intense stress followed by joviality and elation from siting exams and later embracing all the rights of passage that completing school offer, should have been his experience. Troubling lockdown lessons come from knowing, I cannot replace this experience for Ben. And, no matter how much I love him and want to support him; I’m no longer number one in his world.
Shut in his room, on his phone to his girlfriend or friends letting the days tumble past. Coaxing him out at mealtimes remains the only success I’m having. My heart breaks as I watch him becoming more withdrawn, lose weight and descend into a depression that he denies. Of course, I’m not ‘just letting it happen’, I’m paying for a Life Coach to talk with him virtually, as often as he chooses. Try as I might each day to get him out for a walk, he won’t, he will however, sit at the bottom of the garden in a deck chair (alone), if it’s sunny. Sitting on his bed to chat yields mix results, from growling “go away”, to actually spending a little time talking nonsense. Mealtimes have become a compilation of, ‘what will Ben eat?’ And, ‘how can it be nutritious?’
The final of my lockdown lessons; is that I, like many others, am loving the new slower pace of life. Cooking and baking have always been one of my pleasures, so now having time and brain space to cook from scratch, is a joy. I’m still enjoying running my business; Jake sits doing his schoolwork with me and online meetings are genius. I don’t want to go back to face to face. I get to eat my lunch with my whole family around the table. Popping my head into the dinning room to ask my hubby a question, while he works, delivers immediate answers; rather than having to text him and wait hours for a response.
Absolutely, the lockdown needs to lift at some point. We need to see what the new semblance of ‘normal’ looks like. Our previous version of ‘normal’ with stress and racing the clock constantly; I hope, is gone for good.
Which lockdown lessons will you aim continue?