Is it over yet?
November 2020. I don’t know where to begin. Like everyone else I suppose, back in March 2020 when our lives were turned upside down thanks to Covid-19, the Coronavirus, or whatever other name you’ve given it. I add a few extra curse words to mine.
It is not often I make analogies to football, Australian football that is, but that is how I feel about the past few months. I’ve been running up and down a football field, being chased by monsters who continue to throw what feels like a millions balls at me, at lightening speed, while being kicked, pulled and punched over and over again by my opponents. It’s now half time (there are four quarters in Australian football, in case you were wondering) and I can barely walk to the locker room for the usual ‘you can do this’ speech from my coach, who looks just as haggard as I feel. Instead, she tells me I have to go out and do it all again.
Currently, Ireland is coming out of Level 5 restrictions, the highest of the government’s Living with Covid-19 Plan. We’ve been here before and despite things feeling the same, the past six weeks of our second round of lockdown has felt somewhat different. In March, when lockdown was first thrust upon us, I, like many, felt the world, my world, was in utter chaos. I was in survival mode in one never-ending week of confusing mush. Home became work and work was home. Back then, it wasn’t my choice to work remotely. I wasn’t equipped to work from home. No designated space to provide me with the professional environment I needed. Instead, ahead of every video meeting, I scrambled to get any evidence of my home life out of sight. Back then, Mr B (who was also working from home) and I would spend every evening preparing for the next day, negotiating who was using what space and when. I moved around the house like someone who was hot desking in an office with no furniture or equipment and with one very entertaining but equally ill-equipped colleague; my little Lucille.
A nice segway to the emotional turmoil that has consumed me (just like work has consumed my house) the past nine months. While I was trying to create a screen-size view of professionalism, I had to give my energetic and inquisitive, now two-and-a-half year old, what I always aim to give her; the space to explore, the time to learn, physical activity, routine, love, hugs, security, my energy and my patience. But wait sweet girl, mama has jobs to do. A phrase, which at the beginning of all this, would fill her heart with glee at the very thought of ‘helping’ mama with her jobs. And just like her heart used to be filled with glee, mine became filled with sadness as I heard the words come out of her mouth; ‘no jobs mama/papa’. Like a magician, I would try to distract her from thinking she needed me at that very moment, the moment I had to join a video meeting or take a work call. So, just like work is physically consuming my house, so does the worry that I am not enough for my daughter, because I am working from home. Because work and home is all one now, I am unable to fulfil what is important to me as a parent. And no, I will not just put the TV on to keep her quiet.
That was then, this is now. I am still working remotely, this time with a little more finesse. In one clean sweep of the kitchen table, like a dishevelled Mary Poppins, I can transform it from a makeshift work station to a space for meals and for Lucille to create her masterpieces. Yes, I am biased of course. I am still consumed with worry and an animal instinct that I must protect my family from the physical and mental dangers that face us. Like many, I have had to try and not only catch the millions of balls being through at my face, but the balls themselves are completely unrecognisable. My safety, thoughts, values and identity have all been challenged this year. There have been many questions and online conversations with friends, family, and you, about how to manage the home life balance, woman in the work force, division of labour in the home, childcare, financial implications of basically everything, everyone’s well-being, and how I look now that I work and parent and not much else. With each of those conversations, I remind myself that others have it far worse, which leads to even more questions about the state of the world.
While I feel life is completely stagnant, Lucille reminds me it is the opposite. She is changing before my eyes. Some changes are because of the past nine months, and some because she is just growing up. She forces me to duck and dive the monsters running towards me, because life is happening, virus or no virus. Despite her experiences being limited because of Covid, she knows no different. Some of her family are more than 15,000km away so she is a pro at video calls. She has adapted very quickly to having her mama and papa 24/7 and did even better at adapting to the big step of starting Montessori, or as we call it, ‘school’. She reminds us to put our masks on outside, she doesn’t care that she hasn’t been anywhere other than the park since March, and in fact, picnics, both indoor and outdoors are one of her favourite things. Lucille is engaged in her world and I should really follow in her footsteps and be engaged in mine, even if I don’t recognise it.
It is now nearly December and while I try to take a breather, I continue to battle with the fact that I still don’t leave my house unless it’s to take Lucille to the park. I don’t know when I will see my family again, and I really miss my friends. Life has changed, and I feel challenged in ways that I can’t articulate. Most of the time only a GIF or meme will do. So here we are, at what feels like half time. I’ve washed the blood and sweat from my face (you know how much I love my skincare routine). I’m tired, so tired, and I have no idea what the next half will bring, but let’s get on with the show.
Stay safe everyone.