Diary of ANOTHER Lockdown: #8

Saturday

Husband is still off work and thankfully manages to sleep well today. It always takes him a while to switch off.

We don’t do much to be honest. I think there’s a walk and a game and a movie – but I didn’t take any photographs and so I have no markers to jog my memory (the secret to keeping a weekly blog- without little snapshots the days all roll into one!)

But it’s nice. Really nice.

Sunday

So nice that I’m on a bit of a downer today!

Husband is back to work, I think we have some Zoom thing in the afternoon and the Bubbles are coming for tea. Not to mention back to home school tomorrow after a whole week “off.”

I don’t want to play anymore.

We got to a really, really good place with school by the end of half term… but the thought of starting up again just feels a lot like the word “meh.”

I think the worst part is not knowing, at this stage, how long we are talking here. I was fully prepared for another six weeks, but the rumours are growing and spreading that they might actually send the kids back to school in two weeks’ time. Which is a whole different ball game, isn’t it?

The Bubbles arrive armed with chocolate and it’s actually a really, really lovely afternoon. (And I’m not just saying that because I feel guilty about last week!) It cheers me up and energises me out of the short-holiday-slump, as serving often does.

Later, Husband and I sit down to pray and finally start the daily prayers we were supposed to take up for lent. We also get to talking about creativity, which has been on my mind alot lately. Obviously there is the writing for me- both via the blog and the fictional characters who have started to disturb my sleep. But we have also become a little addicted our National Theatre subscription, averaging about three performances a week and craving more! Husband admits that even he struggled to sleep after last night’s viewing of Julie; remembering his training, buzzing with creative energy and wondering if he’d ever get to use it again.

Me too!” I exclaim with genuine delight that someone else has been thinking and feeling the same things I have, and that that person happens to be my husband. (Not only because it is a blessing to share the same passions within marriage, but also because he’s normally so ‘unmoved’ by such whimsical thoughts he’s horizontal.)

And so we pray into that too. Not least because our current lifestyle really does not allow for either of us to re-enter that world through the same door we left it. Nor would we want it to. Family life and ministry outweighs the lot by a long shot… and so if there’s any new way we ought to be using those skills and passions, it really is up (and down) to God!

For now, I guess, we just watch this locked down space…

Monday

I am distracted today. There is set to be an announcement about schools this afternoon and I find myself checking my phone more often than is healthy. The temptation to give the kids an extra day off is strong – I mean, is this the start of two weeks or six? I don’t really want to begin until I know what I’m dealing with!

But the kids are actually self-motivating. They know the drill now. They tell each other there’s “no TV until we collect all of our school work emojis”- cute!- and so I don’t want to risk undoing that discipline for the sake of a little “wait-and-see-what-Boris-says” time off!

So we get on with it, and it turns out I’m so distracted that we manage to complete all of the Eldest’s work for tomorrow instead of today! Oh dear.

We are just about back in the room when the announcement does come.

They’re going back to school.

They’re going back to school on the 8th of March!

I sob. I sob and sob and I tell them the news, and the Eldest is disappointed and the Boy is ecstatic. Then the Eldest is happy and The Boy is sad. The Eldest asks why I’m crying and I explain again that they are tears of joy and of relief.

“Oh. Mummy can’t wait to get rid of us!” She says in mock offense and I grab their hands and I square them up and I tell them the absolute truth:

“I LOVE having you at home. I do. I love our holidays and playing games and reading books and watching movies and having fun. You three are the BEST company. But you need to be in school. You need to be with your proper teacher and your friends and your own space outside of these four walls. And I am just so, so, SO very happy FOR YOU that you get to have that much sooner than I thought!”

(And yes, Ok, for me. Friends, I confess, I am very very happy for me too right now! And for you, fellow homeschooling parents, if such congratulations apply!)

Tuesday

A whole new world.

First daffodil of the season in our garden. This actually brings me to tears. HOPE has arrived!

Funny thing. I sort of decided that the pressure was completely off school now. We will stick to our bare minimum approach, but if something else seems more pressing, (like, I dunno, the garden and the be-hatted sunshine) we will happily do that instead. However, the kids are still well trained in their motivation and the school work actually held their attention so we ended up doing more than usual. Go figure! A pattern of the week, it would turn out.

Later, we have a very last minute Bubble tea, which is chaotic but ends well. My boundaries are cracking under the strain this week, if I’m honest, but that may well be the guilt and the fact that the situation is set to change imminently. We’re almost there!

Wednesday

A lovely card from some lovely friends, reminding us how loved we are, how lovely they are and how more lovely times are coming (as soon as they’re allowed).

Grandparents want to book in their first ever stay at our “new” house- on the 18th of May, of course.

T’other Grandparents remind us that our twice-cancelled holiday down their way might actually happen this May half term.

Hope is rising. The Prime Minister’s optimistic and seemingly realistic road map has given everyone a boost. And it’s lovely. Imagining all of these real people, real places and real hugs is lovely. Yet also… uncomfortable.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12).

It’s a while since I cried over rules or lockdown, because it’s a while since I had anything to look forward to! That phase between July and December was the worst … the constant changes, cancellations and blows of disappointment. With this road map we are slowly opening ourselves up to that world again… and I really hope Boris is right!

Can our hearts take anymore?!

Still. Only one thing for it as it stands:

To escape into the capable hands of a very good book! (Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. I’m reserving full judgement until I’ve reached the end as some of her others get a bit too far-fetched at that point, but so far so good!)

Thursday

“Mummy, do you have to carry that book everywhere?!”

They’re right. I’m an obsessive reader; that’s why I don’t do it often. I have to choose a time I can afford to get lost, because once I’ve waded about three chapters in there’s very little can come between us. I carry it about, in my armpit usually, while I busy about my day. A sentence here, a paragraph there; it’s much better company than a smart phone and is doing a great deal more for my boundaries, to be fair!

And they can’t complain really for they are greatly benefiting from it too.

See, it’s sunny today. It’s so sunny that we are in the garden with sunglasses and sans coats. So I cut them a deal. So long as you stay outside and play in all of this lovely fresh air, you can have as much time as you like. Go nuts. But the moment you cross that threshold, we do school work. Deal?

Deal.

Any excuse to go back to the book!

For today I am mostly modelling “a love of reading”. Now what better education could a parent offer than that?!

As it turns out, however, the emoji commitment is still strong.

“We need to go in soon,” I hear the Boy tell the Eldest matter-of-factly. “I want to play on the iPad after lunch so I need to collect all of my emojis or Mum won’t let me.”

Brilliant.

After the work is done, I manage to convince Husband to hold the garden fort while I dash out for a quick walk. We have the Bubbles again for tea and I need to steal myself away and clear my head. It works.

While out, I spot a man walking a New Foundland – the big, bushy, black dogs we always had at home growing up. I compliment him on his furry friend and then say,

“Aw I love New Foundlands- wouldn’t have room for one in our house!”

Which… is a complete and utter lie?! Even as it comes out of my mouth I wonder what on Earth I am saying and why? He laughs and nods and I do the same, and realise that some of us will spout any old nonsense for the sake of a positive interaction with a stranger!

I arrive back home to our three-times-the-average-size bog slash garden and my silly lie is out of my head. For the sound of Husband growling, “I’m gonna put ye in a pie!” As he chases three squealing rabbits around the trampoline is quite possibly one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard.

It’s true. You might think romance is dead after twelve years of marriage, three kids and a year trapped in one another’s company… but the truth is that sexy just changes form if you let it. And right now there is absolutely nothing more sexy than that barber-proof baboon chasing my kids around the garden with joyous abandon.

I’d like to see Francine Rivers write about that!

Friday

I start the day steam cleaning the bathrooms because, well, sexy is also sanitary. The kids have a live lesson each and then… we go to China!

I know. It’s a school day. We’re wild aren’t we? But we decided immediately on Monday that the one thing we would scrap now that the kids are going back is using Husband’s Day Off to work. No more!

So, as they’ve been learning about Chinese New Year this week, and as we never bothered flying home from Russia last week, we decide to take the train for a change- from Moscow to Beijing!

We make a Chinese Dragon costume, go panda spotting (sneaky Maths), make a little terracotta army, bake some almond cookies, dance with said costume and then, for a total change… order Chinese take-away! (Which of course the kids eat so little of that Husband and I will be finishing it all weekend, but still.. they enjoyed the idea!)

It is a lovely day as usual and the sunshine is bringing memories of Lockdown number one. At the end of the day, however, we are spent. While using my phone as a camera I accidentally picked up a message (from outside of our Bubble) that assaulted my boundaries all the same. As usual, it’s not until all of my own strength of mind is running out that I think to pray instead. I’ve spent most of our lovely family day fighting the dejection in my own head.

Husband, meanwhile, has accumulated twenty seven emails in one day off.

I find myself really, really hoping now, that Boris is right and that come May half term we will get away!

I guess “first world problems” are still problems all the same!

God bless you and thanks for reading xx

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