Lockdown certainly has a way of stirring many emotions; here we all are, in this extraordinary situation, trying to find the best way forward, but not really knowing what that looks like. It feels like we SHOULD know, doesn’t it? Because this isn’t lockdown #1, or even #2… no, this is lockdown #3 – and by now we should be dab hands at it, shouldn’t we?!
Actually, for many people, this lockdown is even harder. We know what we’re in for; we’re tired and emotional; we’re missing friends and family and many of us are struggling with loss, anxiety and isolation, which leads to poor mental and physical health. Perhaps now more than ever it is important to read Jude’s words about being kind to yourself and keeping some perspective.
My first tears came about a week into the first lockdown, after watching a video message from a family we know. “We’re enjoying having the children at home, though,” said the Mother, casually, in the midst of a discussion of the ups and downs life was already arranging itself into.
That casual comment was like a physical blow to me. I wasn’t enjoying having my children at home. I was confused and aimless, overwhelmed by the sheer number of suggested school projects they could all embark on. The kids were already frayed and quarrelsome.
The guilt train rushed in with its usual force and uninvitedness. You’re a useless Mother – you can’t get your head round the schoolwork they’ve been set, AND you’re not even enjoying having your children at home with you. A double indictment.
I love my children. So why wasn’t I enjoying having them around?
There are many answers. The most obvious is, children are wonderful and loved, but they are also a right pain. The second most obvious is, this is a crisis. It’s not a situation designed for people to be able to cope with.
Me on a more confident day might have thought, “how extraordinary, to enjoy having your children around all the time – she really is unusual,” rather than “this must mean that everyone except me is enjoying their children.” Seeing her as the exception might well have been a true observation, but perhaps more importantly, it would have been an observation that helped me.
Two paths suggested themselves: firstly, get better at all the learning you are supposed to do, get organised properly, and you might start enjoying your children more. Or secondly, do the things that make you enjoy being with your children, and you may find all sorts of life lessons flowing from that.
I’ll let you know which path I chose!!