As I sat in my empty house for the first time on my own in over seven months and wiped the tears from my eyes whilst simultaneously enjoying the silence , I sat back and inhaled a deep breath and as I let my breath go my mind kicked into overdrive, not quiet used to the time alone it brought me right back to the beginning.
Did I really just drop my children to the school gates wearing a face mask, with books in plastic boxes and schoolbags light from only carrying their lunch and hand sanitiser. Had the last few months actually happened or was I reading a crazy excerpt from a Doomsday fiction. Disturbed only by the whirr of the washing machine in the background and moments before I would go on my first Microsoft team call of the day I finally had the headspace to try and make sense of what we have been living through as a family in Ireland during Covid19. Try as I might to shake my childrens’ image of handing them over to their new teacher, their new daily protector and enjoy the silence, my brain which has been on constant overdrive as of late was not allowing me to just sit there, it was almost as if my inner self finally had the chance to speak without interruption and there was no stopping her. I worried that morning and still worry about sending my children back to school so consumerisation can begin again when numbers continue to rise , later in the day when they were home with smiles on their faces from seeing their friends, my worries eased somewhat acknowledging the need for external influence and learning also.
I thought back to the lockdown days where it was just the four of us living life as a snails pace and I loved it. It had its challenges and frustrations, the painful sadness at not seeing grandparents in other counties and even in our own county and not being able to hop in the car and discover new places to visit but did I miss the busyness of being a working mother, a working family ,not one bit. Did I crave normality ,of course at the beginning but as time moved on I began to really embrace the “new normal”.
The need for stuff lessened even more, since my Mother passed away two years ago as I stared into her wardrobes and sorted her personal belongings I formed a detachment and lost the joy of buying new clothing and Covid has only enforced my belief that stuff is just that ,stuff . What do I really long and love to do I ask myself alot now. I love to be with those I love and spend time with them and experiencing things to do and revisit familiar and new places . We became inventive and sought new ways to experience new things and places nearby when we were on lock-down, yes we argued, yes we got bored sometimes, yes we were cranky on occasion, but I will never regret this chance that presented itself.
Seeing the sorrow and impact of Covid made me realise who and what was important, who I truly cared about and who cared about me. It really isn’t things or possessions or frivolous things that make you smile in the dark its love and memories. Losing someone close does that too and that’s why I feel living what we have lived through is very similar to losing someone and the grief that you live with from that loss. Nothing is more important than your health and those who you love and want to be with. I will always be thankful that we came out the other side relatively unscathed, that I got to be with my children more than I dreamed possible as a working mother. We saw the best and worst of each other during this time. I don’t miss the racing here and there, the three hours a day we used to get to spend in each others company pre Covid, a period of time when we were all tired after long days at school/work /commuting/activities and on and on. Why was I engaged in a lifestyle where those who matter most had the least amount of my time, we talk about work life balance and its clear now that family and time for myself got last dibs in that old balance no matter how much we juggled things. I get scared now thinking how easily that scales could shift again and now more than ever I will ensure the scale tips firmly in favour of my family and allows time for me.
How did life actually become that in which we spent more time away from each other ,enduring modern day stresses and this is what as I sat there the morning my children returned to school that I couldn’t help but worry over . That is no longer the life for me , I don’t yearn for the pre Covid life to return, it doesn’t make me feel anything other than fear when I think of the rushing around that could and already is sneaking its way back into today’s society. Rushing that I can see already happening and I think of ways in how I can hopefully prevent the good that has come from this global pandemic to disappear from our lives. I feel sad when I see greed re-emerging, when I see some return to lives filled with nothing more than consumerism ,when new ways embraced during lock-down are thrown to the side now, but we are all only accountable to ourselves.So
I will stop looking outward too much and continue to focus on my own needs and my own bubble and carry with me the positives I have created.
For some of us we have been through the worst times of our lives and are locked in worlds of grief and for most of us we are still living in hope that the worst of these tragic months will pass by us and spare us and those we love. We have kept our bubbles safe for so long and now as we allow external life to come back we are putting our trust in others to help keep our families safe. Cliched and all as the line is we all do have a part to play in keeping this virus from decimating anymore than it already has done. The worries and fears will potentially always linger but I hope so too will the good memories, the times together that we may never had had, the hugs when we finally got to embrace loved ones we were kept away from for so long, the places we got to discover in our localities and further away as time went on.
I have truly learned what matters most in my life ,its the simple things, I don’t need things to over complicate , we go as we come into the world ,for me I want to continuing adding to the memories that will bring a smile to my face when I need it most. A slower pace means more time to feel, to experience and to share and make memories, that is truly invaluable and not something I’ll take for granted or rush to get away from anytime into the future.