The days before
I had spent the preceding few days preparing as best I could in between deadlines and Zoom meetings and a constant barrage of Mommy requests. The food shop was done. (I thought it was for three weeks, but it was actually a full week’s supply) I tried not to panic buy but I do confess to stockpiling 6 slabs of Lindt 85% chocolate and 3 tins of Nesquick.
I stood patiently in the pharmacy queue for my tranquillisers, anti anxiety meds and Corenza. I stood the appropriate amount of distance between the next anxious customer, conscious of my breathing, sympathising with the tired, overwhelmed pharmacists trying desperately to tend to the snaking line of masked citizens as quickly as possible. A mother brought her little toddler in who was running around unaware of the chaos and stress that is now the norm. She touched a couple of the soft toys on the shelf and a granny lost her shit. Complained to the staff that the item (a fluffy grey elephant) was now toxic and must be removed. A slight over reaction if you ask me, but considering the amount of over 65’s in the store and the measures we are all trying to take, I do understand. The mom most likely felt ashamed, trying to keep her place in queue, while keeping her sanity and child in check. I had luckily arranged for Jean to uber in and look after the kids for a couple hours while I braved the masses in the stores, for this exact reason. As much as I am trying to explain to the kids the realities of this unprecedented situation, I don’t want them to quiver in fear and aggravate their already anxious dispositions.
My last stop was the Crazy store for some supplies to keep the motivation and momentum going. This was no sprint. Preparation, planning and presents was going to get us over the finishing line.
Bear in mind at this point the kids and I had been practising social distancing for over a week already. I thought my ducks were in a row. I’m not sure they even ducks.
I awoke feeling quite calm. That calm feeling that follows the frantic preparation for a holiday and then suddenly you are on the plane or in the car and there is nothing more to be done. Or rather, nothing more you can do, except lean into the lockdown. In hindsight, this was the eye of the storm.
I replaced my morning self care routine with work as that was my only guaranteed quiet thinking time.
The hub (lounge) had undergone a quarantine makeover with various activity stations, including my work space. Every detail was accounted for. The water jug and glass, the (most likely past expiry date) Almonds for snacking, and three sets of earphones; one for the laptop, one for the phone and one for my workouts. An itinerary of when to eat and when to go outside was up. I attempted to gather the plethora of informative, educational free children’s websites and links and platforms.
Armed with a full box of tranquillisers I was ready. Locked and loaded.
I did not make it to 11am before the wheels fell off. The ducks were pigeons.
I got stressed and anxious so cleaned up instead of working out. I found a pile of discarded half tablets that should have been long gone in Aiden’s tummy. Shit sticks. My babysitter aka the internet bombed. Kids came crawling out of rooms and off couches just as my Zoom marathon sessions were about to kick off. Be quiet translated in kid speak apparently meant fight, yell, nag, stomp feet and hang on my shoulder, photobombing my Zoom meetings. For all the skilled lip readers in my meetings, my sincere apologies. I would like to say that I don’t usually parent like that but, to be honest, right now, that would be a lie.
At one point I yelled out as if I was on the summit of Everest, but instead of a passionate hands-in -the-air rejoice, I screamed “the internet is fuuuuucked!” I also may have, and I will deny this to my dying day, mumbled something that sounded like “because your brother is a dick” under my breath as I walked off in a huff. For once I was extremely grateful that no one in the house ever listens to me.
By this point I was pretty confident I had not in fact taken my tranquillisers that morning, and if I had, they were either duds or wore off way to quickly. Note to self to adjust the schedule.
Aiden, who had also evidently not taken his meds, had, understandably, THE most monumental meltdown. I ended up physically restraining him, wrestling him to the floor in the middle of the lounge, trying to contemplate my next move until wait… what the hell was that noise?
Ah, my 12pm Zoom meeting reminder.
And FYI, only Kids YouTube, Netflix, Fortnite and Tik Tok were accepted – when the effing internet was working. So much for curating a cultural online experience.
I woke up at 3am vomiting and nauseous. Deferred panic attack from the day before because, well, who has time for a full blow panic attack while trying to keep kids alive, fed, and be present – with video on – for Zoom meetings. But it’s Saturday (I think) so I have permission to panic away.
I’m not sure who these people are who suddenly now have ooodles of time on their hands to rest and learn to cross stitch. I (like many many other parents) now have to fit in a full working day on top of keeping two kids entertained and let’s face it, alive, and somewhere along the line throw in some washing and a vacuum.
My “free time” was pulled out from under me in one quick social distancing swoop and I was grieving.
I slowly emerged from my cocoon of self pity, nausea and guilt, and realised that in order for me to survive this, it had to be; me, my kids and then work. In that order. I needed to adjust. Calibrate and redirect my expectations. Lower that bar and take each day an hour at a time.
I rested and reset and did absolutely nothing besides lounging around and playing with the kids. And it was awesome.
Realisation kicked in.
Panic has subsided and now reality was knocking. Well, let’s face it, it couldn’t have been anyone else right?
My important priority for the day?
To get through it without losing my shit.
Adjusted my morning routine and brought self care back into the fold.
Adjusted the important priority slightly – To get to lunch time without losing my shit.
Adjusted my morning routine and deferred my workouts (when I had the energy to do them) to when the kids were awake (and the sun) in the hopes they would join me. This way I got some quiet thinking time. Let’s call it a mutual compromise.
Adjusted my meal time expectations. Realised al la carte was the only menu that was going to cut it during corona lockdown.
I learnt that you can use the space bar to unmute during Zoom calls, like a walkie talkie which helps minimise the background noises of Lego spilling, Peppa Pig playing, Fortnite commentary (which is worse than football commentary) and “he said she said” marathons. #zoometiquite
Adjusted corona- cooking expectations as I realised I can’t be arsed to even try cook up meal that only I will end up eating… for days. Miss Janey and I donned scarves and gloves and ventured out to Woolies for the first time since lockdown for essential supplies; Cottage pie, burgers, pizza, creamed spinach and sushi.
Getting in the groove.
It was a gardening kind of day. The only issue was I didn’t have much in the way of supplies. I found some cheap min wage labour (although the amount of food they are eating seems to supplement their pay substantially) and then I asked my neighbours if anyone had potting soil, compost and toothpicks I could buy or barter. Little presents appeared on my door step or dropped over the fence.
If all goes well I could be the producer of baby tomatoes, strawberries and sweet potatoes. And a bunch more succulents. I’m not holding my breath but you never know. I may be the proud owner of repurposed recycling water and Oros containers filled some stones and some very nice donated potting soil.
In other news…
Look this was inevitable, I fell asleep on the couch (not that part, I do that almost every night now) but I woke up and didn’t know if it was morning and I was supposed to get up and get going with the day or if it was still night and I was supposed to get my ass upstairs to bed. I really wasn’t sure. The clock said 1.27am. So upstairs to bed it was.
The struggle is real. This is traumatic. But it’s a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity. It’s also a privilege.
I realised something else this weekend. My life under lockdown is not that much different to life BC (Before Corona). The only difference, and let me be very clear it’s a massive difference, is that I don’t get a break by going to the office or having Jean for support and, importantly, some reprieve.
The kids may not have sporting commitments or play dates but my weekends are not that different, yet somehow, I feel different, I’m starting to lean into this lockdown and enjoy the moments. The stargazing. Gardening. Building forts. Colouring in, reading, and even writing again finally after the initial trauma has subsided.
I am even starting to find joy in the mundane like cleaning up the kitchen, taking the grey water bucket out to the garden each morning to water the plants, recycling and of course time to just be. Side note. Joy does not apply to washing out twenty seven green Oros cups on a daily basis, finding sticky yoghurt spoons on top of my important journals and side stepping the sploshes of hot chocolate, Pronutro or, you guessed it, Oros trailing all the way up the stairs.
The washing pile may be growing but it can wait. It’s not like we’re going anywhere. It has taken me a while to gear down, put the brakes on.
Time has finally stood still. Now it’s time for us to do the same.
Stand still. Stay home.