So I had intended that my posts about the small child in self isolation from the world would be jolly, hilarious ones about homeschooling, candid failings at not being able to teach the small child anything and the inability to be able to do anything because of the small child asking me for something every two seconds. However, after the first day, I rapidly realised that, yes, writing about all of that is uplifting and funny, but it is actually a veil for the reality and it hides a whole lot of emotional turmoil that is going on. It’s easy to create a pantomime out of the reality for a laugh, but I wondered if I should share the ACTUAL truth, in the hope that it might help one other person feel not so alone.
There was a really interesting article that I read about the disproportionate negative impact that the ‘virus that shall not be named’ has had on women and mothers in particular, with them taking on the majority of the childcare and household duties whilst either trying to balance work or facing a reduction of their work or it stopping all together. For me, when that pandemic hit, it sent shock waves to the core of my organisation and it was only due to the wonderful good grace of my colleagues that a form of Mini Mermaids continued, but I was overwhelmed by the new normal that I had to navigate. I had to ensure that the kids were schooled, exercised, their mental health and their physical health kept well, balance not too much screen time with allowing them to have time on whatever new App had come along to keep them connected with their friends. Worrying when the small child didn’t want to connect with his friends on a screen, along with trying to explain what was going on in the world and why couldn’t they go to the park or swimming, (it actually broke my heart a little bit when, about 3 months into Lockdown, when we were scooting past one of our local parks, they stopped and gazed wistfully into it, the slightly bigger child explaining to the small child that ‘we might not be able to play in there again because of the virus.’) There was the usual everyday things that had to be done, which became bigger deals than they actually were and the four walls of the house started to feel very claustrophobic. I became really resentful when Mr Me-Myself and Eye was able to go out to work everyday and it really felt like things hadn’t changed for him, but there were huge adjustments and compromises that I (and hundreds, if not thousands) of women were having to make every single day. Working/not working, part time working, not working, worrying about my organisation and how it was going to survive, worrying about how I was going to make a living when there wasn’t an option to work. Being bombarded with all the new skills that I MUST take up and using the opportunity of being at home to lose weight, redecorate the house, master the art of f***ing sour dough…whilst making sure that everything was documented on Instagram so everyone could see how much I was owning lockdown, when in all honesty I was sinking rapidly into an unhappy place. I also missed my mum…. we went from seeing each other 4 maybe 5 times a week to nothing at all. A few video calls here and there, but no actual human connection. It was really tough. Those initial days and months felt very very dark……………. It felt like Groundhog Day every day.
Despite knowing that this current period of isolation has got an end date, and understanding that it is actually really shit for the small child, It has given me an overriding feeling of dread. A friend described it the other day like a form of PTSD….The anxiety that I felt when I knew that he was going to be off school has been sitting with me, with these constants running through my head,
‘I’m a failure as a mum because I don’t want him to be at home 24/7, I’m selfish because I don’t want him at home 24/7, I’m a failure at work because I can’t do everything that I need to do because he is at home 24/7, I am a failure at work because I should be able to do everything that I need to do despite him being at home 24/7, other people can do it, other people aren’t spinning out of control because their child is at home, there is something wrong with me because I can’t teach him, there is something wrong with him because he can’t sit still/concentrate for more than 2 minutes, what if by me teaching him, it sets him up to fail throughout his life, everybody else’s children are settling down and doing their work and concentrating and don’t need their mothers by them 24/7. I shouted at the kids today, that is all they are going to remember when I ask them about lockdown in the future. What will happen next time there is a lockdown or the schools close? How am I going to cope? I literally have people (or animals) talking at me and expecting things from me for the entire day, It feels like there is never a moment (unless I physically leave the house) or any form of peace where I can just sit… and if I do sit and pick up my computer to do some work there is too much going on in my head to be productive or to concentrate on what I have to do.‘
To be honest, it feels relentless. I know that I am not the only one feeling all of these things but have no choice but to suck it up and get on with it. Even by writing all of this down, it feels like I am breaking some sort of ‘mother code’ that we should never admit that things are difficult, especially if our children are not babies any more, It sometimes feels, that despite the subject of mental health being more widely spoken about, there is still a feeling of shame if a mother puts her hand up to say that she is struggling…and I guess the truth is at the moment, there is very little that we can do except get one with it and share/talk about our experiences and try and have some time for self care… (although I’m not sure how that reality actually works.)
I have got three more days of the small child being at home, and I really would love to say that my feelings and thoughts are going to be in a better place and I am going to try new strategies to ensure that I bring the best possible version of myself to work, homeschool etc… but I simply can’t promise myself that and I don’t want to set myself up to fail. I’m just going to try and get through it the best that I can and always end the day by telling the small child how proud I am of him and how I love him to the moon and back.
Keep safe, and if anyone needs an ear to listen, let me know.