My husband told me the other day that the government is hoping to begin a staged re-opening of society in three weeks. I understand the necessity of getting the economy up and running again. I live in the UK where the messaging has been clear: Stay Home. Protect the NHS. But how long can we pay for the NHS if we don’t have any revenue coming in? At some point, the coffers will empty and inflation will rise. Modern civilization wasn’t built to allow for this level of global unproductivity. We need to return to work to create goods and services that generate revenue to pay off debts, to put food on our tables, to purchase things we don’t need as well as the things we do. And I can’t lie… the idea of going out for a meal again excites me. It excites my family more as they have begun to moan at my 3-meal-a-day rotating menu.
I miss the simple things; the freedom to do more than the actually doing.
It’s been hard living in the same space with three people, regardless of square footage and the love I have for them. It’s the monotony of it all. It’s the lack of spontaneity. Even with a routine, there’s the option to deviate from it.
But as the surreality of the lockdown has worn off, I have become aware of the many things I have to be grateful for. My husband and I have worked from home for years, and so there wasn’t any adjustment to make. The pandemic hit our retirement savings, but then again, anyone from our generation knew that retirement was nothing more than an illusion anyway. What’s important is that we are still able to put food on the table and carry-on like before.
Perhaps, the thing I am most grateful for is having the pleasure to witness my girls fight and laugh their way to a new stage in their relationship. My youngest has thrived under the extra attention. Her personality is still forceful and loud, but there’s a softening to it we’ve all been waiting for. She listens a bit better. Her reasoning skills are improving even if she still has yet to accept that she is not the center of our universe.
I’m also proud to see my eldest not give-in to her demanding little sister as often. My eldest is learning that while kindness is most definitely not a weakness, not everyone deserves it from her. I’m happy to see her discovering her personal boundaries and attempting to maintain them.
This forced time-out has been good for me and my family. There are no extra-curricular activities to rush the kids to and no clock to which we must adhere. I go about my day with a level of calm and peace that I haven’t experienced since it was just me and my eldest. Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling requires a level of patience that even I don’t have. The constant questions. The teaching, the explaining, and the fact that not twenty minutes later, I’ve got to repeat myself has necessitated I become exceptionally good at hide-and-seek if I want any me time.
This pandemic has forced my family to slow down. We go to bed later, but we also get up later. The kids and I developed a chore chart, and everyone’s excited to do their part. I have always intellectually understood the importance of teaching the girls how to help out and to take pride in their home, but when you’re time-poor, your perspective on things shifts. You start to look at tasks as units of time, and so most of my house cleaning would get done when the kids were at school because I could do it a lot faster without their help. But now, with nowhere to go and the full day at our disposal, they can earn pocket money by consistently doing some basic cleaning around the house. Sure, they hate unloading the dishwasher—Dishwasher? In my day, I was the dishwasher and the dishdryer!—but without needing to go anywhere, they can take as long as they want.
All of a sudden, three weeks seem like such a short time. Schools will re-open and the clock will resume. We will once again wake to the sound of the alarm and get through our morning routine with our eyes on the minute hand. Moments together will be experienced with partial awareness as my mind will be silently calculating what needs doing and how much of it can get done before bedtime. Theirs and mine.
During this last month, we’ve fallen into a natural routine of sorts, and while I understand the greater need for “normalcy” to resume, this time at home with nowhere to go has been good for us.