Sweet Dreams are Made of This

I need a little break. I think 2020 has finally caught up with me. I spent so much of the overly abundant free time covid had given me scrolling on the internet, trying to make sense of it all…and the truth is, I can’t. Who could?

2020 is going to be the answer in future history tests for sure: a global pandemic, racism, conspiracy theories, toilet paper shortages, compulsory home school, record unemployment, Tiger King….

The year when teachers became heroes for working from home and then villains when faced with a return to work with even higher cases. The year when nurses demonstrated their bravery and essentialness only to be told they were not eligible for a pay rise-clapping was apparently a sufficient reward. The year the rights of statues were held in higher esteem than the rights of actual people. The year masks became a political statement. The year when having an opinion on any of these arguments immediately put you at odds with “friends” and often family.

It kind of feels like I was a spectator to the year: I was lucky. My job was safe. I was able to stay home with my kiddos and living in the burbs meant I was able to isolate with relative ease. Plentiful internet access allowed me to stay in touch with my loved ones despite the heartache of not being able to visit them this year. I was able to spend time discovering what my soul needed to fill the void created by social isolation. I was able to re-assess my white privilege and discuss theirs with my boys then have a go at yoga to quell my unease (which kind of, unintentionally, epitomizes my white privilege don’t ya think?!)

As 2020 unleashed each wave of new anxiety inducing topics destined for the history books, I was able to watch it all in the safety and comfort of my living room.

I count my blessings that I have been able to empathize these fears rather than experience them as so many have this year. My family have remained safe. Even now, it feels a tad indulgent and insensitive to be writing this as an outlet for my anxiety. I definitely feel guilty for feeling anxious. I see the kids who’ve returned to school all masked up, using hand sanitizer and socially distancing and worry about my boys who will be joining them in a couple of weeks. I know the numbers have gone down. Did we do the right thing keeping them home or was this all an exaggeration designed to win or lose an election after all? Am I the idiot for not believing the conspiracy theories? I snope all the time these days as I distrust the media. Should I even trust Snopes for chrissakes?

It seems I’ve fallen into a chasm of fear at the minute.

Facebook and Twitter are no longer the chosen way to decompress and enjoy an idle few minutes catching up with what my friends have been upto. For every funny post I see about cats, I see three more discussing the current events from different perspectives. I have always prided myself on researching a sensational story but I’m out of spoons. I am taking the easy way out. I remember my gran telling me before she died, she didn’t want to know the truth. She wanted to be an ostrich and bury her head in the sand. I understand that now more than ever.

So here I am. An atheist reciting the Serenity Prayer. Deactivating Facebook like that’s going to make a difference to how 2o20 plays out. I don’t know how long this will last. I miss all your stories of family life and mishaps. Your misspelled late night drunk ramblings and pictures of delicious dinners or soon to be consumed pints of beer. Your long awaited friend and family reunions or holidays and even the rants about that stupid woman in Asda.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to resist the pull of knowing these little “what’s on your mind…” moments. How I’ll miss my “on this day” morning coffee ritual I look forward to each day or even telling you guys I literally tripped over a shadow yesterday…how can you survive without knowing that!

I got a little drunk last night and nearly popped back on but I resisted…more due to drunken fat finger coordination issues tho. I’ll miss your stories. I love seeing them. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed blogging so much as it’s introduced me to others’ stories. Funny though, everyone seems to read my blog thru Facebook so if I cut it off…am I just writing this to myself?!

But with all the events and uncertainty of recent times, I’m a little overwhelmed and have decided to “ostrichcize” myself until I have more spoons. So I’m going to maintain my self imposed exile a while longer because I do feel more at peace in my ignorance.

My Gran was called Annie and another Annie says that sweet dreams are made of this. I’m not sure she was referring to “this” as a social media flounce but hey ho, it seems to fit!!

But I will truly miss you and hope you’re OK. I will be back at some point hopefully, more confident in how things are going. I’ve managed a week thus far…wonder how long this inherently nosey person will go.

Photo by Arie van Ravenswaay on Pexels.com

Hold on

So I’ve really struggled finding words to write. I have a couple of silly topics tumbling around in my head but my mood has just not let me find the right words. This blogging took me by surprise this year. I’ve discovered I really enjoy writing. I know some of it is nonsense. A lot of it probably. Rich’s probably quite relieved for the temporary reprieve for his ears. But it’s really surprised me how cathartic it is. Even if it’s nonsense. Even if nobody reads it. Better out than in as they say, (although in our house, that term usually refers to farts and I often strongly dispute that argument). Maybe it applies to my writing too.

Writing has been a way of managing my time. I try and think of a topic and spend a couple of days just thinking about what I’ll write before sitting down on a Monday at the computer. These last couple of weeks, the ideas have been there but the words just wouldn’t come. Nothing sounded right. I was gutted. I just couldn’t do it. Then today, knowing that I’m really missing writing I decided to think about what I do care about at the minute-may be that way, I could find some words….

Hold on…here goes nothing….

So the boys are getting older and despite my over protective need to be there for them, they don’t appear to need me like they did in previous summers. I remember the times when they were younger that I felt I was losing myself. I never seemed to have time to do anything for me. Maybe that was my own doing: poor time management or whatever. The times I would have given anything just to go around Sainsburys on my own. But as a working mum, it was quite rightly, always the kids and work that were prioritized. In fairness, those still are my priorities but like I said, the buggars are growing increasingly independent and Covid and summer have temporarily relieved me of work pressures. So here I am. Summer will end and my boys will continue in their unintentional mission to leave me. But I don’t say that in a morose kind of way. I’m holding on…

I say it to give myself hope. When the boys were little, times seemed hard. Times often were hard. But we got through it. These days, I’d give anything to have them come with me to the store. In fact, often it’s a Starbucks bribe. These days, it’s the extra few minutes in the car journey where they tell me about their random thoughts. It’s going round the store and finding out what food they really love and how their friends’ mom makes a different kind of pasta that might be nice to try. Losing them in the toy aisle as they’ve still not quite left that part of childhood behind…has anyone? I love watching them grow up. Every age we’ve entered seems to be my new favourite: them learning to smile, to walk, to talk (a few regrets there maybe). Learning how to make friends. Just simply learning how to be. Maybe I’ll review that with the teenage years…where on earth do they learn them eye rolls- I sincerely could have happily done without them learning those! But I realize as I share these moments now, they are worth all the trials we went through to get here. They allow me to see the crack of bright blue sky following the rain. That same rain that makes the flowers bloom. And as I try to hold on to the past and present, I know there are moments waiting for me in the future that will make me smile heartily and beam with pride so I’ll hold on for those….

But what about school? It’s just been delayed by another 3 weeks. The kids’ll have been out of school for at least 6 months. We have to do home school again because the number of cases of covid in our area means they’ll don’t feel it’s safe to be in a class room. Home school for one of my boys was fine but the other struggled. Is this going to happen again? I also have to work. I’m holding on so tight for this one. I know I don’t know when this is going to end.

What I do know, however is that the teachers last year probably have never worked as hard as they did last spring to make sure our kids were able to participate and feel safe. I know that they have probably spent all summer worrying what this semester is going to look like and how they are going to provide the best possible education given these incredible circumstances. Many a sleepless night I expect. I know they’ve had meetings they’re not getting paid for and text chats trying to work out how on earth they’re going to be the best teachers they can be for our kids. For their kids too. I know this year may not go as planned for my boys and goals may not be met. But years can be repeated-school years, that is…not 2020, please no repetition of 2020 ever! But by staying home, I know they’ll be safe so I’m holding on to that.

And then there’s work…I miss it. I miss working with the kids every day and seeing them overcome challenges. I was really lucky to work with such great kids. They taught me so much. Corny, I know, but true nonetheless. When we left for Spring Break, I never imagined I wouldn’t see them again. I won’t get to see them rise to new challenges and smash them. Knowing that each week we do virtual school is a week they’re not working on their goals, gaining the skills they need for whatever independence looks like for them, is heartbreaking.

But I know they’re going back at some point. I know there’s a team who’s missed them and can’t wait to sit next to them and get them back on track. And I know eventually I’m going back to a new classroom where there’ll be new friends for me to make. I’m excited I’ll get to see new faces smile when they achieve a target (whether it’s an academic one or me-I’m sure I’ll learn there are different missiles to dodge in junior high). I’ll get to come home and regale my hubby with what “my kids” got up to and he’ll have to double check again if I’m referring to my kids at home or my kids at work because that’s given him trouble before. . I’m gonna hold on for that…

Finally I’m holding on for those hugs we’ve missed this year. Plans we made with friends and family that had to be shelved. Celebrations we’ve missed. But, then I think of the new ways we’ve learned to make connections. The Zoom calls, messenger chats and face times we’ve enjoyed being part of. Rich did wonder if he needed to call the police the first time I enthusiastically told him we took part in a drive by. All the crying through the worries we’ve shared but also, the crying with laughter through the jokes we’ve shared too. Watching people around the world come together in the worst of times to sing a song or clap for essential workers.

Admittedly, it’s all been quite surreal. This has been the strangest of times, the most worrying and confusing of times. All I know is that when we are able to hug again, hug we shall and I will definitely be holding on and I’m not convinced I’ll ever let go!

Hold on with me…

The beautiful bright sky after the storm passed

Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Oh I remember having one of them. About five months ago…maybe six. The news started trickling in about cases popping up whilst we were still in school and it was unsettling but not really a worry as Corona was more still something I enjoyed a drink of at the weekend than a threat. Even as we went into spring break, I wasn’t overly concerned. I did buy 11 tins of ravioli in a moment of panic buying at the store but that’s the only thing I have panic bought and I still don’t know why I chose ravioli-Rich is the only one who really likes it?!? I did get anxious about the loo roll situation as we were running low and the supermarket shelves were empty but we didn’t reach crisis point before I was able to secure some. Quite a relief as the only big leaves we have in our garden belong to a very spikey aloe vera…at least it’d soothe as it owwws!

So then we had home school and work from home orders. That was hard. However, we did find our routine eventually and then, we broke up for summer! Rich went back to work in the office and me and the boys stayed pretty much at home. And we got on with it. Same new routine, different day. On and on and on. We avoided going out as they said we shouldn’t. We doordashed our favorite restaurants once a week so it felt like we were doing something a bit special (aka: I did not want to step another foot in that kitchen).

Al has been able to keep in touch with all his friends online and that has been wonderful. I hear him chatting, occasionally giggling. Sometimes, he comes through and tells us funny stories he and his friends have been sharing. I mean, as a Mum, it’s like the perfect scenario. It’s perfectly socially acceptable to let him on the computer and I don’t have to worry about where he’s going or who he’s with. (Obviously, I do a bit-internet safety and all that but so far, he’s been grand!) He is the perfect model of grumpy bored teenager and he’s quite ok with staying home.

So anyway, I digress. Recently, we started venturing out. We visited a couple of cafes. We’ve been to the local pool which is about the only thing that can be enjoyed outside in these oppressive 100 degrees heat days. But believe me, we mask up. We are a family who pretty much embrace rules. We stand back from people. I have the hand sanitizer in my bag and we 🎵wash, wash, wash our hands to keep them nice and clean etc 🎶 as soon as we get home. For us, it’s not that we’re scared of contracting it-obviously we are really. But it’s more what would happen to the boys if we end up hospitalized. Until someone can offer me guarantees on that, I’m going to continue to be cautious! But we decided it wasn’t healthy for the boys to stay cooped up inside. Never going out was perhaps building a bit of fear. Our mental health needed a bit of TLC so we started heading out as the guidelines relaxed and guess what! Now the numbers have jumped in our area even further.

And coincidentally, my thoughts have begun to wander towards the impending return to school. Oh how I want my kids back in a class room, mixing with their new buddies, joining in with different activities and complaining about homework and the school bus. I miss work too but if you ask me later I’ll deny I ever said that!

The boys are due to start Junior High and High School so it felt like this year was a rite of passage for them. A milestone in their seemingly speedy race towards adulthood. I guess it still is, but the passage is taking a different turn for their cohorts. I’m supposed to be worrying about Joshie making friends and Alex not getting mixed up with the wrong type of friends. I planned for it. I knew I would. I am that Mom! But 2020 just had other ideas. School supply worries are supposed to be about if I’ve purchased enough pens and binders but forget that! Here I am looking at the school’s logo’d masks for purchase on their PTA spirit wear site. And how many bottles of hand sanitizer will be enough? Which store has Clorox wipes?

The number of cases, to all appearances is increasing by the day-hubby keeps telling me to ignore them and look at the trend but that, in truth isn’t offering much comfort at the minute. I’ve tried so hard to seek out unbiased information but sadly, this has definitely become a politicized situation. We’re surely in the Matrix and being offered a blue or red pill. Neither of them seems easy to swallow. The blue pill promises death and casualties if we do not lock down. The red pill suggests it’s all under control and unless we get back to work and school, we’ll die of suicide or poverty. I kind of believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. Truth be told, I don’t really like that pill either! The kids have got to get back to school. Everybody knows this. Parents need to work. Everybody knows this. The virus won’t disappear unless we socially isolate and everybody knows this too-except them crazies who think it’s all a hoax but hopefully they’ll socially distance themselves enough by trying to find the edge of the flat earth!

My brain has been in constant turmoil trying to make sense of the situation. We don’t have a stay at home order but we have their recommendation. Rich has been told to work from home again. He hates it but we’re just kind of grateful he still has a job as we know that’s not the case for many, many people. As it stands, school starts back next month. They’re offering online or in person tuition. I had been reading everyone’s various opinions and every time someone said what they were planning, I found myself internally debating their choice. Was it right? Should I do it? Should I tell them I disagree? But what if they’re right…? I literally laid awake this last week trying to decide.

I think it kind of feels like a Sophie’s choice situation for a lot of folks and people can only do what they feel is best. I don’t experience your lives and you don’t experience mine so we have to offer grace and compassion and support where ever we can. People are genuinely afraid and people are genuinely not. We have to accept this is the way of things at the minute. History will decide as they say. We just have to be patient with each other. Or mute the buggars on social media who are messing with your peace. That’s something I’m only just learning but boy, it makes a difference!

Anyway, we unexpectedly made our decision yesterday. It’s not ideal. It doesn’t really suit us and I’m not sure if it’s the best thing to do. And closer to the time we may change our mind. But the relief in actually making the decision was instantaneous. It was such a relief to have a plan even if it’s not a perfect one. A peaceful easy feeling, if just for a while!

But believe me, you better be wearing a mask in our presence-we’re pretty much ready to get the tin foil hats out over here.

Anyway, look after yourselves. I never meant to go down this rabbit hole but like I said this has been weighing heavily on my mind and writing seems to be my new outlet for a semblance of sanity so sorry for that! Next week, why on earth would you call a scone a biscuit America!

Actually the last pic I took before lockdown. Our lemon tree’s offspring on the left and shop bought on the right. 2020 has definitely been a big fat lemon! Life and lemons eh! We’ll find the right recipe eventually I hope-in the meantime, wear a mask!

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