It was announced on Friday that we would enter a national “Lockdown 2″ this week; which sounds depressing but is actually a lot more relaxed than last time and is not hugely different to the rules a few million of us have been living with for the last few months anyway. The most notable changes for us personally are that physical Church services must stop again and all non-essential shops and services are closed, (including the two toddler classes we live for each week- boohoo!). Schools and parks remain open, however and bubbles can still function. It’s a little bit rubbish but nothing we weren’t really expecting!
We cheer ourselves up by making Christmas cake, having a mini ‘pumpkin party’ and celebrating our wedding anniversary with a take-away curry! Nice.
After a week “on holiday” at home, the house is an absolute state. I don’t want to waste a Sunday cleaning it, nor do I want to take a precious task away from the rest of the long, drawn out week, but… needs must! I listen to the audio Bible as I clean and sort, just to feel like I’m at least trying to observe a Holy day.
See, the biggest challenge of the Old Testament in my reading so far has to be the importance of Sabbath rest. It was such a big deal back then that I am challenged by how little value is placed on it now. (Not least in a house where ‘church’ is also ‘work’…)
I think about this as I scrub my toilet on a Sunday!
After the success of last week for all involved, I volunteer to look after the twins again today and it is all kinds of cute and exciting. I can’t quite explain how and why it’s so much more motivating to add other people’s children into your mix on an empty day, but it is. They all play well together, save a few negotiable squabbles, and the Youngest is tired but very happy at the end of the day. As is her mother!
On Monday evening, we learn that a friend has tested positive for Covid- the first case to date that’s come a little bit close to home. We have dropped things off at her house during the week, and we did do a Zoom Murder Mystery with her on Friday, but are pretty confident we didn’t catch or pass on anything there…
In my head we have a very busy day planned, but none of it comes to pass. We are supposed to go to ballet for the final time before the new lockdown begins, but the Youngest makes it clear she does not want to go today! Trying to explain to a two year old that this is her last opportunity in the grand scheme of things is futile, so, as the house is still a mess after Twin Day, I concede and we clean it some more instead. We were then supposed to go for a walk with a friend in the afternoon, but realise that, as we are still in Tier 3 today, socialising indoors or outdoors is not allowed … but it will be fine come Lockdown on Thursday when you are allowed to meet outdoors with one other person, not counting children! (I think… we weren’t 100% sure but the weather was iffy anyway. Sheesh. We can all be forgiven for mushy heads this year, right?!)
So anyway. We talk on the phone instead. And it’s fine. It’s all fine… so far…
In one very foolish move today, I turn on my phone first thing in the morning and look at the news- via Facebook- before anything else. Even after deleting my news app for this very reason. When will I learn?!
On it, I see a very chilling video of an attempted child abduction in London, followed by some equally chilling election updates in the USA. I don’t pretend to know much about politics, let alone international politics, but from the outside… the fact that Trump could have said and done all that he has done, and still be upheld as a righteous, moral leader by fellow Christians is beyond horrifying. (I mean, they actually show footage of a charismatic prayer meeting declaring Victory in the Name of Christ for this guy. As a Christian… that’s like watching a representative of the Vegan Society campaign passionately for meatier burgers and have everyone applaud. I don’t know much about veganism either, but I’m vomiting soya beans over here in disbelief!)
So. Already feeling shaky on the way to school, we see a dog almost run over, a woman almost fail to stop at a green light whilst we are crossing and then The Boy let go of his scooter so that it rolls into a busy road! Thankfully, there is a gap in the traffic and so, whilst barking at him to stay put, I do manage to lean in and hook it back. But still… It takes a few very deep breaths through my mask once the kids are safely deposited through the school gate to get going again!
Moving on.. it’s a lovely day, but once again the Youngest is very reluctant to come to the park as planned. “No thanks, playing!” She says as she walks her toys upstairs and “to the lookout!” Again, she is perfectly happy, and there is a virus out there, after all. So I decide to concede again. Which is fine today, but won’t be later in the week. Gotta keep those mental health blocks in check!
Thus, I mostly spend the day exercising morbid curiosity in the US election polls, before it is finally time to walk up and collect the kids. Later, Husband breaks the news that he has been contacted by Track and Trace, who think he has been in direct contact with someone who tested positive for Coronavirus. (Maybe you can catch it via Zoom after all?!) He is not allowed to leave the house now for ten days. This, on top of the other mind games I’ve played today, is a little disheartening but, I’ll be honest… I think it’s accidentally reading the results of this week’s Great British Bake Off that eventually finish me off!
Forget Trump, Lottie was robbed!
Remember, remember the 5th of November…
The kids are excited about Bonfire night so I decide to make an effort today. I only have cupcake size sparklers, however, so the Youngest and I bake some Autumnal apple cupcakes and attempt some traditional cinder toffee to crumble on top…
As you can see, this was an explosive idea! Note to all: transfer the toffee to a bigger dish before adding the Bicarb! Still, cleaning this hard mess up does fill up the rest of the day, so that’s something …
At school pick up, Mum-Crush taps me on the shoulder and says, “boo!” After a delayed reaction, I explain I’ve been eating cinder toffee off the top of the oven all afternoon and am in a slight sugar coma. (Because THAT ought to impress her.) I ask how she is and she laughs, “oh, you know, busy, busy, busy as usual! In fact, I’m in a Zoom meeting now!” She waves her phone up and I see that indeed, it is full of faces in tiny boxes. “How to Chair a meeting and do the school run, hey?! See you later!”
As she cycles off with her toddler in the back and her son alongside, I do have to wonder whether she was on mute or if the entire BAME Charity Network heard about me licking sugar off my oven…
Still. The cupcakes are worth it and we have a brilliant time in the back garden watching all of the fireworks set off by the neighbours! Hilariously, The Boy also brings us back down to Earth, after a day passing our tutting British judgement on the slow car crash unfolding across the pond:
“Mummy, can the whole world see the fireworks today?”
“Oh no darling… we are the only Nation in the world who still celebrate the public torture, hanging, dismembering and burning of an anarchist every single year!“
The day the slowly bubbling anxiety explodes and spills over like a pan of cinder toffee.
Today, I am on my fourth trip to the chiropractor after a short-term fling with jogging leads me to acknowledge that I am on the wrong side of thirty five. (As do the crows’ feet and eye bags that I am struggling to fill with make-up!) I am also, thanks to Husband’s app-enforced isolation, off to do the food shop for the first time in forever. During a pandemic. (That punctuation is correct.)
He is dyslexic and so his list isn’t the easiest to follow; although the first half is organised in aisle-order which is pretty impressive! The second half isn’t, however, and so I end up going back and forth throughout the store; stopping for ten minutes a time to investigate things like sugar content, versus price, verses packaging … all in all taking about two and a half hours to his forty-five minutes. (One of the many reasons he doesn’t let me do the shopping in the first place!)
I leave feeling tired and flustered and pretty useless, to be honest. I pray in the car,”God, really, what is the point of me? What do you want from me right now?!” Back home I open the door and am greeted by a happy Husband, who proceeds to list all of the household jobs he has achieved this morning, whilst simultaneously playing three hundred games with Toddler and making sure she remains perfectly potty-trained. It’s the Trouble With a Good Husband all over again.
I start to cry.
“Uh-oh. What did I do?!”
“Everything… Nothing… you’re just so much better than me!”
I’m sobbing now. It is ridiculous, I am fully aware of that. But it happens.
At this point the phone rings; it is a friend who should definitely be at work on a Friday afternoon. Something must be wrong. I answer: it is. She talks for half an hour and I listen. It’s all I can do.
Back in the room, with the fresh perspective that other people have actual real life problems, I have calmed down and try to explain to Husband, in clearer terms, my lockdown struggle-of-the-week. In a nutshell: I’m useless.
Him: “you have the shortest memory. Do you even realise how many people you support like that, just by being available?!”
Me: “Oh yes, because ‘being available’ is such a sought-after skill isn’t it?!”
Almost by way of an answer, at this very moment the window cleaner turns up. I am an emotional mess and Husband is isolating, so I almost don’t offer him a drink. However, last time he was here he asked a lot of questions about God and I loaned him a book, so I think I’d better offer him the chance to talk about it. Which he does, immediately.
Half an hour later, he has poured out every spiritual question, struggle and anxiety he can think of today, is close to tears and I am praying for him in the back garden. He leaves with two more books and a very sincere thank you. This is only our second conversation.
I walk back into the kitchen and Husband raises his eyebrows. “So… you still think God has no use for you and your ‘availability’ at the moment?!”
He’s right. (Of course, I’m sure I’m not the first bored housewife to have made myself available to a window cleaner, but I assure you we both know that’s not what this is!)
We pray for the guy and my friend on the phone; Husband goes for a nap, I take the Youngest to the park, and even the news from across the pond is starting to look very positive! All in all, this ends a much better day – and week- than the one which began.
At the end of the week, I’m thinking about how this pandemic has changed life for all of us in some way or another. For some, it is harder, fuller, faster. For others, slower, easier, emptier. For all of us, different and yet equally uncertain. Nevertheless, there is purpose, wherever we find ourselves and however we feel about our lot. Finding out what that is may simply begin by making ourselves available to God.
Thanks for reading ! God bless you and yours x