It’s our last Bubble Saturday for the foreseeable and the kids are making it very clear how fed up they are of this arrangement. Times are tough. They can’t see their own friends and no matter how I try to explain it, the unfairness factor is still a huge source of contention. Still. They have a very big house and garden, two doting parents and more toys than they could possibly need (with permission to hide anything they don’t want to share- including themselves- upstairs, behind a barred staircase). While Covid has me making all sorts of allowances for our ‘poor’ socially and educationally deprived children, I won’t back down on this.
“We are blessed to be a blessing. Jesus tells us quite clearly to share what we have, to help those who need help and to open our homes to those who need shelter. The virus and the law made that very difficult, but God has made a way. We have been given one family to look after this year and, on account of everything God has done for us, we are going to be faithful in that.”
Eyes roll but, as usual, they take it on board and manage to be happy when they arrive.
And it’s fine. The day is glorious, we sit outside and our three manage to play their usual imagination games completely uninterrupted by the two additional children playing their own imagination games in a different corner of the garden.
All the while Bubble Mum gets a much-needed break.
Sometimes the tiniest inconveniences can make a whole world of difference to someone else’s day. And while I appreciate not everyone will agree with me on this particular episode, it is something I feel strongly about teaching our kids.
It is another hot and sticky day, and everyone is tired. The kids are moaning, Husband is stressing and I feel pretty drained. There’s squabbling and whinging and the thought of managing our own family fatigue amidst Bubble tea is filling me with dread.
“I’m getting busier and busier on Sundays now, this is not going to work!” Husband huffs.
So today feels a little more than a small inconvenience. But, reading Paul’s letters in my Bible-in-a-year, it still feels like a very petty first world problem. We’re being asked to host a perfectly agreeable family to dinner: this is not martyrdom!
“God help us!” I cut off a barrage of whinge and pray, knees down, hands spread in the middle of the kitchen. “Give us grace and peace and goodness and joy and self control. Please. And show me what to do this afternoon to best serve everyone’s interests. Be with us we pray. Amen.”
Husband goes off on some parish errands and takes all three kids in the car. First motorised outing for weeks; they’ll remain strapped in but still feel like Christmas. No sooner have they gone than I recieve a message from BM to say she’s struggling to tear the kids away from their own toys. Bingo!
“Shall I just pop up to yours for an hour so you can go out for a walk, instead of coming down here?”
“Oh yes, that would be perfect, thanks!”
God. Is. Good.
It’s the final countdown! (Do do do do, do do do do do!)
It’s still sunny outside, so we race through the school work and leave plenty of time to play. I have visions of soaking up some rays and finishing my book (which I left alone all weekend in a show of maternal and marital sacrifice), while the children laugh in the background.
Turns out that ‘modelling a love of reading’ really is a thing, however, and The Boy can’t leave me alone! In the space of one afternoon, my little screen-fanatic has brought down every single Julia Donaldson book we own, with plenty others beside, sat upon my knee and insisted I read each one twice! The Youngest has also caught on and appears with Dear Zoo, clambering onto my knee with competitive zeal as soon as he goes in for more. Meanwhile, the Eldest lounges on the trampoline asking how many more chapters of J.K Rowling we can devour before bed?
I mean really. This is the life!
Later that evening, throat-hoarse but happy, I do get round to finishing my own novel! Having done so, I do recommend Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers- a deeply spiritual work, full of Biblical truth, that also manages to explore the very real complexities of marriage, sex, sin and salvation without leaving very much out. (My only bug bear in all of her books is the cheesy epilogues, which I’m never convinced are necessary!) Still… a good addictive read!
Despite being full of energy last night and lining up the next four novels I plan to read, I find my stores completely empty today.
Seriously, I have nothing.
I suspect that having my first monthly in a fair few months might be the cause, but I’m not sure. My entire body and soul feels like its scraping the floor.
I’m in bed by 9pm!
Up very late today, thanks to Husband, who was blessed with much more sympathy than I’ve ever showed him!
I am still chronically tired but it’s a game-face kind of day. We have potatoes to decorate!
It’s World Book Day tomorrow and, unlike the parent who text me during half term to enquire about the WBD instructions on the online learning platform (seriously, who are these people?!) I haven’t started yet.
After completing the set work in the morning, (the Eldest suddenly more independent), we spend the afternoon dressing potatoes up like fictional characters. It’s a nice challenge and actually feels alot more child- and book- focused than the costumes have become.
The Boy makes Jack and The Bean Machine by Adam Bestwick, which I’m impressed with as it’s such an obscure choice! The Eldest, of course, makes Harry, Ron and Hermione and I humour her genuine belief that she might win the competition; all the while imagining her teacher sat in a giant potato salad full of Harry Potter spuds, trying to judge which one looks the most like Daniel Radcliffe. Bless!
In the evening, we have one final Bubble Tea for this phase of life. Next week, when the kids go back, we will return to afternoon bubbling before I pick them up from school. They cling to this promise with an uncomfortable amount of glee and it takes every “look” in the Mum book to stop The Boy blurting this out over dinner.
Still, it goes well and we have a nice walk home. Once more, though, I am spent and thus asleep by 9pm.
World Book Day!
Ok. My energy has completely drained today; if Tuesday was depleted then today is utterly devoid.
Still. At least we have a THEME! You know how I love a good theme day.
The Boy’s work from school consists of “read your favourite books.” The Eldest has other work too, but managing both proves more difficult than it sounds. We end up sacking hers off in the end and embracing a fully themed day. We read, draw front covers, write reviews, host a tiger for tea and make book themed biscuits. (I even manage to persuade the Eldest to move away from the black fondant and make characters who don’t all go to Hogwarts!)
For the third day running I am in bed by 9pm after lying down at every given opportunity. I start sniffing and licking things to make sure it’s not Covid, while Husband clearly has other ideas. Turns out I am also snappy and react to physical touch like an electric fence. Further investigating his diagnosis, he then feeds me chocolate and, “noticing a distinct difference in the way that the female responds to the male after he provides for her dairy milk needs”, concludes that it is absolutely definitely “that time of the month.”
I mean, I feel like I should be offended on behalf of feminists everywhere, but he is absolutely right.
Now go away and leave me alone!
Embracing a particularly bad one, I spend much of the day in a horizontal position. I am not a lazy person, I tell myself over and over. I have one bad week every few months, and the sooner I give my body what it needs, the easier it is for everybody!
Thankfully, through years of experience, poor Husband knows this to be true and pretty much leaves me to it.
In between naps, I accompany the Eldest to her final online session and am thrilled by three things: firstly, that it’s the last one! Secondly, that she wins Star of the Week for all of the things we did on World Book Day… you know, the day we sacked off the curriculum and did our own thing while I was feeling rank? And thirdly, that when asked, every single child both in school and out says, “I can’t wait to play with everyone on Monday!”
I mean, I know I’m chronically hormonal, but it does bring a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat all the same. Education will catch up, but I just can’t wait for these kids to get the chance to play together again! And I really hope that these most important pillars of learning and loving and being continue to be more highly valued as we move through and out of this pandemic.
Fellowship. Rest. Play. Community.
And it won’t be easy. Last week I witnessed a fight between an elderly female duck feeder and a young male fisherman! A friend is being bombarded with crazy texts from a covid-paranoid school Mum. My own experience of going to town on a total stranger after the last lockdown is still uncomfortably relatable.
“We’re going to see so much of this over the next few months,” says Husband, who has been dealing with cooped-up crazies throughout. The fact that social isolation has just intensified everyone’s issues, magnified our misgivings and left us harbouring bad habits- whilst being so unaccustomed to forgiving other people’s- just serves to prove our need for social interaction; for community. It also serves to show how much harder this is going to be to rebuild!
But the juice is worth the squeeze.
And so at the end of the week, as we rest and relax and prepare to return to school gates and masks and staggered pick ups and people… I’m begging God to give me more Grace than is needed! I’m asking Him to prepare me now for the annoyances and irritations; to forgo my own offendedness in favour of reconciliation.
For if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my now twenty years of faith, it’s that each and every year I grow more in need of His Grace.
Here’s praying we can all show one another the same!
Peace be with you.
Thanks for reading