Diary of ANOTHER Lockdown: #10

Saturday

It’s a Bubble-free day and the last weekend before the kids go back to school. They request a ‘lazy day’ and, as we have nowhere to go and no one to see, I am more than happy to oblige. So much so, in fact, that I see absolutely no reason to get dressed. We’ll be out every day next week, afterall; who cares if I stay in my PJ’s all weekend?!

The doorbell rings.

The doorbell?!

I presume it’s for Husband- (as who else could it be?) – and go back to moping about the kitchen, drinking tea and proof-reading my last blog post.

“It’s for you!” He shouts.

For me?!

It’s Bubble Mum, with a gift. I have to go to the door. I have to go to the door in Husband’s oversized Superman Dressing Gown, unwashed, unbrushed hair and Pyjamas that read “I need more sleep“… at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. While standing there, of course, not one but two separate parishioners also rock up to pass things on to Husband.

Seriously. Any other day…

Still. I shut the door and return to the blog which, if you remember, ends with a half inspiring homily on grace and the need for us to forgive one another during these crazy times for the sake of community. Yes. I feel it this time. No Supermarket screaming for me. No sir. I am exuding peace and tranquility. I positively brim with gentleness and self control as I share the blog on Facebook and then casually scroll through my other groups… only to find a passive aggressive ‘question’ from a brand new vegan, “innocently” admonishing other ethically minded folk for not being as enlightened as she … And it positively boils. My. Pee!

Honestly. I’m so angry with this sanctimonious stranger that I actually get dressed and go for a walk to cool down!

Why is it so difficult to put up with other people’s Crazy when you know very well you have so much of your own?!

I have a chat with God about it.

“See, the thing is, Lord, I have no problems with veganism. I get it. I have friends who have gone vegan gracefully and they have my full respect. In fact, I even imagine there’s much truth in veganism and that it could indeed have the power to change the world. But I’m sorry, God… I’ve just met too many irritating bloody vegans to know that I never want to be one of them!”

“Well,” says the still small voice. “How do you know you’re not the reason people say that about Christians?!”

Ouch.

Food for thought! (Dairy free, obvs.)

In the evening, we have a Murder Mystery organised by some of our Parishioners and I have to wonder … am I the first Vicar’s wife to attend a Church social event in a 10 year old outfit from Ann Summers?! The wonders of above-waist socialising…

Sunday

Another lazy play day.

Nothing to report!

Except maybe that as Husband oils a chicken for tea, I do start to wonder if maybe we ought to address our consumption of animal products? Though, being the only vegetarian in the family, that’s not really my call to make…

Not today anyway. It’s a school night!

Monday

Ah Monday!

The Boy is up and dressed at 6am and asks if we are excited approximately 300 times before we leave the house. Each time I tell him yes and mean it!

At 8.20am we set out for the half hour walk and scoot to school, giving extra time to cover for the fact that we have done little more than Aerobics with Paw Patrol since the middle of December! Today I will walk to and from school twice. An entire two hours exercise, half of which is uphill, all of which is outdoors. The thought of this alone is making me giddy! Nevermind the excited gibber from the small folk, about who they’ll see and what they’ll eat and where they’ll sit (and maybe even what they’ll learn?). Excitement reaches peak at the school gates where friends are quickly reunited and parents are, thankfully, all wearing masks. Even the cranky old lollipop lady has been replaced by a smiling gentleman who doesn’t bark upon approach.

This is a good day!

Ain’t nothing gonna break my smile!

Until, of course, the Reception teachers come out carrying a giant hand-painted banner reading, “welcome back!”, and I let go of my little pretties’ hands and watch them skip excitedly into the very good care of those who look genuinely excited to recieve them. At which point they turn back to laugh at me because I’m blubbing. Like big snotty sobs into my mask.

I mean, I think its mainly relief, to be fair. And monumentalism. This is a moment right here. The significance weighs heavy and I can’t contain it. I walk to the far corner of the car park where the church hall is and cry behind a bin until the most embarrassing tide has turned. I pray. For the kids, the school, the staff. What an era we just lived through. As far as lockdowns go… I really hope and pray it’s the last.

For the rest of the day the Youngest and I sort through everyone’s clothes; boxing up our hand-me-downs and unpacking our new handed-downs until each child has age appropriate outfits to wear, once washed. (I mean, it’s a pointless task as the stereotypical third child wears whatever the heck she likes anyway, usually from the wardrobe of the ever-accommodating first child… but at least I did my job!)

The Youngest is happy until she naps and then wakes up crying for her sister and brother. We quickly set off to collect them, jabbering about how excited we are to do so. Again, I really mean it!

They’ve had a great day. There is much excitement and enthusiasm and joy. Ten minutes later we stop for a snack and I tell the Boy there’s a parcel at home for him to open. Laughing, as he often teases me for our ever-expanding book collection, I tell him “Mummy bought you more books!”

The reaction is so 2020… it’s unprecedented.

He wails. I mean really wide-mouthed, tear-streaked, loud -howled lament.

“Why?! All you ever buy us is BOOKS!”

(Not true.)

“Why?! Why more books?! NOT MORE BOOOOOOKS!!!”

I honestly don’t know what to do with my face right now.

He’s so upset. Because… I bought them books. I mean, it’s not like I went to a sweet shop and came out with books, you understand. I just… you know… ordered some books?

That evening we read two chapters of said books before tea and the kids are so enthralled that they voluntarily make book marks instead of watching TV. I dare not mention what happened on the way home, but he seems pretty over it…

Gosh.

So many emotions, so very little capacity!

Tuesday

On the way to school this morning, the Eldest’s scooter falls apart and I have to carry it on top of the pram while she complains about walking and we all wonder how on Earth we are going to fix it.

Any other day? Nightmare.

Today? They’re still back at school.

It’s going to take alot more than a broken scooter to break my stride!

Still. Keen not to spend our whole week cracking on with household jobs, I take the Youngest to the park with a friend straight after drop off. Another perk of the schools going back; now that we are down to just one adult and one preschool child, we are allowed to meet one other person- with a preschool child- for a socially distanced chat outdoors!

A wonderful flirtation with normality.

On the way home, I recieve a phone call from the pre school that rocks my little world. The Youngest is invited to an hour long settling in session… tomorrow!

“It’s just so that she can get used to us and visa versa; and to teach her that you always come back for her, before she starts her full days.” They explain.

“Sounds good to me!” (She’ll barely notice I’m gone.)

“Great. So we’ll start that tomorrow morning then just carry on every day until the Easter break?”

Shut. The. Front. Door.

Every day?!

Every day.

Let’s get this straight…

For one hour every day this month, a group of childcare professionals are going to supervise my daughter’s interaction with other kids, whilst all of our groups are closed. For free. And the best part? We live half an hour away, so I couldn’t even do housework with it if I tried!

How dramatically life can change from one week to the next.

In the afternoon I take said Youngest to the Range, select the right equipment, buy it and live to tell the tale. We come home and I fix the dang scooter; test drive and all.

This Mamma is on fire!

Wednesday

It’s preschool day!

It’s also chucking it down with rain, which means that a) we all have to drive to school, and b) my decision to eat 2 slices of cheesecake last night in sheer I’ll-walk-it-off-this-week abandon may have been slightly premature.

The Youngest is more than a little excited. She’s bouncing around the room talking about all of the things she might do there, including a hand-painted masterpiece based on Frozen 2. I really hope for their sakes there’s paint.

We arrive and it’s pouring down with rain. Another Mum with a little boy is waiting too and the Youngest loses no time in introducing herself and offering to share her umbrella. I hover about the window trying to look conspicuous, whilst obeying the twenty-odd signs telling us that “PARENTS MUST NOT PASS THE GREEN TABLE!” After five minutes of getting drenched, the other Mum bravely ventures north of the wall to press the doorbell- which has been covered in at least three roles of sellotape by way of a deterrent.

No one answers.

Eventually I call the phone, and a play worker with a visor comes to the door and laughs, “why didn’t you ring the bell?

Unbelievable.

She is half way through explaining that one of us must wait at the bottom of the path in future so that we can deposit our kids safely, when the Youngest hands me her brolly, shouts “bye Mummy!” and marches past us all, with a look that says, “I don’t need escorting, thank you very much!”

I sit in the car with a Bible and a book, rain beating against the window, thinking… well this is nice. But can’t concentrate on books. Spend the remaining time writing to you lovely people.

Upon collection, I am forced to venture past the green table as the Youngest apparently doesn’t believe I’m here yet. I pop my head around as proof and she backs away, pinning herself against the wall shouting, “Nooooo! Not yet! Go home!’

Which is a good sign if ever there was one.

Thursday

Husband drops the older two off at school so that I can amble up with the Youngest for her later start. It’s sunny so we go on foot, but the wind is so fierce that I instantly regret it. Walking up the hill I try putting the hood on the pram to protect the little one, but it just inflates and sends us backwards! Battling against the elements, my ears are ice cold but underneath a padded coat, my shirt is wet with sweat. This, my friends, is why the British talk about the weather so much. You never know what you’re going to get!

The Youngest skips into pre-school happily, and I even get a wave from the Eldest on breaktime as I hide the pram behind the Church hall. With no car to sit in and worse weather than expected, I wander up to Sainsbury’s to kill some time.

No cafe, obviously, so I wander the aisles aimlessly before deciding it’d be a lot less ‘people-y’ to lock myself in a toilet cubicle and update the blog.

Because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days, you know.

Blogging in bogs.

Public supermarket bogs, at that.

(They probably get cleaned more often, to be fair!)

The Youngest is happier to come home today, and we stop at the park on our way back. It’s too cold so we leave pretty sharpish and have a sofa cuddle before lunch. After lunch we check in on my parents via FaceTime, when suddenly it’s 2.45pm already and we have to dash out to “pick up our darlin’s”, as the Youngest tells it.

Gosh. Another perk of the schools going back. It’s good to feel this kind of busy again!

Later that evening, I empty every toy box and clean every crevice. I won’t explain why as it’s too bad even for the blog. But suffice to say, next time you commit an ‘epic fail’ and wonder why God gave you children/ family/ life… just imagine “that woman who writes Stars in Clay Jars has probably done worse.”

You’d be right.

Friday

Husband is on drop offs today and I have an appointment with the chiropractor. Upon reflection, there are probably much more exciting things we could have done with our first childfree hour since the house move, but I didn’t think of it until now! Maybe next week…

At the end of the week I am still not vegan, but am addressing my personal dependence on cheap luxuries: namely, chocolate. Whilst I can excuse an entire diet and lifestyle overhaul for a young family of five during a pandemic, I confess I can no longer ignore my own ignorance in buying 200g of Dairy Milk for a pound and calling it ‘self care.’

After some research, I discover Tony’s Chocolonely- a brand which apparently sets out to make chocolate “100% Slave Free”… which raises big questions about the rest of it, doesn’t it? Stocked by Sainsbury’s at £3.50 per 180g it weighs heavy on the purse, but lighter on the conscience… and hopefully on the hips! I won’t be scoffing this down in so much of a hurry!

Inside, the bar is not split into uniform squares, but a mish-mash of different sized shapes- a visual reminder that nothing is equal in the chocolate industry. Eek.

Husband is not entirely convinced. “But… what about the giant batches of brownies for the Church Plant? We can’t afford to make those 100% ethical!”

“Then, maybe I just bake something else….?”

Gosh. You’d think I’d just addressed the dead chicken. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it.

(And I’ll call it an ethical ‘pre-vicar-ment’!)

Speaking of inequality, it has certainly been an interesting week to be British! I know it’s quite fashionable to say you didn’t watch it, but I confess I did- with interest. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been absolutely everywhere this week – (which is pretty inconsiderate as the rest of us have been nowhere!) The coverage since pretty much consigns you to one of three parties. There’s the ‘don’t-know-don’t-care’ brigade, who would like to remind us that we are in the midst of a pandemic and there are much, much more important things to talk about. Then there’s the ‘cancel-the-monarchy’ brigade, who will tell you that any other position is racist; and finally, the ‘Meghan-is-a-liar’ brigade who are unfortunately represented by the likes of Piers Morgan and Nigel Farage. (Nobody wants to go to that party!)

Yet in truth… there’s perhaps a more balanced viewpoint. Yes, there are more important things… but isn’t it nice not to talk about them for a change?! Just like Covid turned off the dripping tap of Brexit, my elder relative’s anti-Meghan memes are at least a deviation from the norm! Yes… the Monarchy, British history, culture (and indeed the Church), are plagued with an embarrassing colonial history, full of racism and oppression. They – we- are making moves in the right direction, but there’s no time like the present for calling a spade a spade. However… was the interview entirely truthful? Personally, I very much doubt it. Was the Duchess, in true Esther fashion, “called to Royal Position for such a time as this?” I’m not convinced. But that doesn’t mean I hate Meghan Markle; on the contrary. The poor woman was grossly mistreated by the press and I for one completely empathise with the need to tell your own story. And not just for yourself. Countless times celebrities are criticised for not using their privileged position to give a voice to the marginalised and oppressed. She, on the other hand, has done just that. (It’s just a shame she- they- had to throw their family under the bus to do it!)

But MM is a natural activist. Her story will no doubt inspire others to stand up and do the same and that is a good thing. However… while some are born activists and others have activism thrust upon them… I can’t help doubting the truth of the latter, in this case. Did the circumstances force a stance to be made, or were they bent to achieve that end?

Will we ever really know?

For me it seems this story is too fresh to be told; and as such it still contains far too many holes!

But… what is there to learn?

Maybe… communication is everything and context is key.

Though, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and the time has come to freely speak.

And yet… Quiet dignity is a dying art.

God save the Queen!

I think that’s enough for this week. God Bless you, thanks for reading!

Much love xxx

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