Yesterday at 12.30pm I was refreshing the Guardian politics live blog with baited breath, whilst trying to get through my TA workout before the small energy-sucking machine woke up (mental note – multi-tasking does, in fact, mean not doing any of the things properly, as my nose can attest after I lost my balance and face-planted the mat).
Six months since lockdown and another 6 months of social restrictions are announced. Not, to be fair, as bad as I had feared. I was waiting for the return to no socialising outside of your household and phoning round my friends to see who had managed to get bread flour in their online shop. But still. 6 more months of not being able to hug my sister. The realisation that, not only were we missing out on our Waters-Dewhurst/O’Brien-Day half term holiday, but I wasn’t going to be able to gather my family around the table at Christmas either.
I can just about handle masks everywhere (although I do worry what Erica is making of all that). I can remember to wash and sanitise my hands (mostly) and to remind Ethan to do the same. I am coming to terms with the awkwardness of not greeting people with a hug or a kiss (to be honest this does mean that I’m not stuck in the awkward “one cheek or two” conundrum that just results in headbutts or worse!). I have gotten used to most of the general population not actually being able to visualise 2 metres.
But the lack of any light at the end of the tunnel threw me yesterday. I suddenly felt very alone and hopeless. I was prepared for the isolation and loneliness that inevitably comes with having a new baby. I knew it would be hard, and that I would find it more difficult than last time due to an increase in age, decrease in stamina, guilt of being torn between two children and the massive lack of patience that seems to have appeared since Mark’s death. But I was not prepared for the world to be turned upside down. For even my small lifelines to be taken away from me: Ethan’s mini holidays with his grandparents or Auntie, the drop-ins I could drag my sleep deprived self to and hug coffee while Erica played in a safe environment and actually saw other babies. For soft plays to be closed (yes, I know they are germ factories at the best of times, but they are indoors, when it rains, and they serve coffee), and for baby classes to be non-existent. For no Health Visitor or GP contact for 6 months (or what will be a year).
I think that what really hit me was that Erica will have spent the first year of her life only seeing a small group of people, under weird restrictions. And this bothers me. I don’t like it when things don’t go as I though they would. But this is at a whole other level. I have gathered around me a phenomenal group of people. They live all over the place, but they have held me and my tiny family together through countless struggles. And I miss them. Zoom quizzes are no substitute for drinking coffee whilst you put the world to rights and your children play together on the living room rug. The reality of the “rule of 6” is that there are a LOT of people who I will not be able to see for a year. People who are important to me. Whose children are small enough that they may forget me. Who won’t get to enjoy seeing Erica learn to walk. I miss my people. And, because life was busy even before a new baby, unless we put visits in the diary, days and weeks go past before you have time to text or call or skype.
I am sure that everyone else is dealing with their own disappointments and fears surrounding this “unprecendented time” (beginning to be a bit sick of that phrase, if I’m honest). But these are some of mine. And last night I had had enough. My mini tantrum ended in tears and Nick driving to Tesco to get some sourdough bread, roast chicken and dairy free Ben and Jerry’s…because he’s awesome. But I’m still a bit shaken by it all today. I’m still terrified of the spectre of an invisible, potentially deadly, illness. It gives me flashbacks to shocked faces in consultants’ offices. And sometimes I just want to hide at home away from it all. But I also want things to get back to normal. Unfortunately, I can’t have either of those things. So today (with the help of some lovely local friends) I am working on what I can change to make things seem a little more positive.
Spoiler alert: avoiding housework will feature heavily in this new plan.
Love to you all, take care of you and yours.