Wow. When I finished the last Diary of a Lockdown series, I did not imagine getting to week twelve of ANOTHER lockdown- exactly a year after the last one began. Did you?
Anyway. After last week’s rather gloomy offering, I have resolved to ensure this week is more uplifting. I am purposely seeking to keep it light this week so… let’s see where that gets us!
Today, I began the day by sorting out our odd sock box with the Youngest. (I know. I’m going to have to do a lot better than that to keep things interesting!) Still… anyone actually interested to know what the odd sock scenario looks like for a disorganised family of five?!
Maximum lockdown entertainment.
Next, I decide to fill in the census. (Riveted now, aren’t you?) And it reminds me of the time when nobody warned us, before heading off to University, that each and every short term house move will add hours of future form filling to your life. (Think carefully before you move house 14 times in 18 years my friends!) Anyway. It is worth noting that, whilst the Census doesn’t require all of your previous addresses, each subsequent child does add another ten minutes of admin to your day. I’m just saying, you know, bear this in mind before you get busy…
I am kidding, of course.
That part is easy. Though Husband’s situation is more complicated than I thought and results in my disturbing him every thirty seconds for clarification. “Does your employee cover our rent? Or is it a charitable cause? What is your actual job title? Priest? Reverend? Vicar? In which location do you normally do most of your work? How many hours? Gosh 49 and over- easily!”
Then a laugh.
“Oh wow. Briefly describe [Husband’s] job. How to answer that in a small box?!”
“Remember it’s not a blog post…” He mocks. “Just write Church and leave it at that.”
Lunch. Am about to round up the small folk and force them out for a walk when my new book arrives and I find a Curly Wurly behind the microwave…
An itty bitty kind of day.
Fully intended to simultaneously steam clean my soul and my kitchen today, but after hosting Church online the dining room looks like a bomb site and, as the gateway to the bog, the kitchen is also a lost cause. (I think I’m borrowing humour from many anonymous memes when I say that trying to clean your house in the constant presence of children is like trying to brush your teeth with oreos. And only half as satisfying.)
I haven’t got the energy to waste today so I spend as much time as possible out in the garden to save myself from looking at it. Husband returns at 2pm and I head out for a walk. At which point the Boy, who is the sole reason we didn’t make it out any earlier, decides to join me after all. Go figure.
After 5 minutes rejoicing over his big stick and 15 minutes asking if we can go home yet, I drop the Boy back at the house and nip out for a tad more exercise. Feeling very proud of myself for overcoming the ‘lone-female fear’ in favour of a walk, I happen to come across this guy…
In the evening we have a Zoom meeting about All Age Online and I am appalled to find that everyone else is enjoying the experience so much that they vote to carry it on indefinitely.
“I mean Church with kids is so stressful and you never get to hear the Sermon anyway, so why don’t we just scrap kids work and carry on doing that side of things at home?”
I mean, I confess I have voluntarily forgotten how stressful Church used to be (perhaps I ought to re-read some previous posts), but I have several reactions to the above suggestion and they all start with NO. No, no, no, no, NO!
I’m done. I’m so done. I’m more than done. I’m burned at the top and raw in the middle done! I need actual fellowship. I need real life people to balance out my rickety pew. I need to know that at least once a month I won’t be on the rota and can sit in actual silence while the kids are being led by somebody else! I want Church to be back in our family routine again. Heck, I want Church to be our family again. I want community. I want a reason to get up and go out on a Sunday morning. At this point, I even want a reason to regret these words! They can swing from the rafters. I don’t care. I’ll swing with them!
“How is that just me?!”
“You’re the only one who fully ‘did’ Lockdown three,” Husband points out.
“…What do you mean?”
What he means is that none of the other leaders in the meeting homeschooled from January to March. He means that all of them worked or volunteered in community-focussed positions and have been going out, knocking on doors, seeing, talking to and helping people for months. Except me.
“You’ve lived a very different year to them – and to me- so far,” he says. “Your needs are totally different. They- we– are exhausted from work and from trying to meet the massive need in the community. I for one am completely peopled out,” he laughs. “Meanwhile you are lonely and bored and absolutely fed up of looking at a screen. As soon as lockdown ends you’ll be wanting to cram the diary full of people and I’ll want to dig myself a hole! There are lots and lots of different boats in this storm, so these are the kind of issues we are going to see coming up in the next few months.”
Well… it’s not like Husband to bring the salad to the party now is it?! But I fear he is absolutely right.
Ironically, after this meeting however, we talk with my Messy Play group buddy about the potential timeframe of reopening. Fifteen minutes later, after discussing the dwindling leadership of two Toddler Groups and a Church Plant, I see those fifteen hours free childcare slipping steadily through my greedy fingers!
Sorry Mrs Vicarage, you can’t have your tea and drink it. The book will have to wait…
Leave home just after 8, drop off the older two and walk around the block for half an hour until the Youngest is due in. Drop her off, walk up to Sainsbury’s, mooch, and then pick her up again. Walk home at toddler speed, via the Church and the park and various climbable walls. Get home around twelve and- praise the Lord- she is asleep. Just.
Four hours on foot and my feet are flat as pancakes!
Scared of waking her, I choose the back door entrance as it is wider and therefore more pram friendly. Only now I am stood in the kitchen faced with a classic Mum predicament: the overwhelming need for a cup of tea verses the strong desire for her to stay asleep so I can sit down and drink it in peace!
In the end, I move the kettle into my bedroom. Drink half a cup and read 3 pages of my book before she wakes up.
It was worth it.
Today is the National Day of Remembrance. It’s exactly one year since Britain first locked down due to the pandemic and over a hundred thousand lives have been lost. Thankfully, remarkably, I don’t actually know any of them personally: but it is significant to remember all the same.
At 12pm Husband and I join in the minute silence in the kitchen while the Youngest screams, “I WANT A DIFFERENT SAUSAGE!” throughout.
After this, of course, she is perfectly happy munching on her designated sausage, telling me how happy she is and how much she loves me for getting it.
Determined to keep the tone light, I have also been collating photographs from the past year and it serves as a lovely, timely reminder of the things we have gained as well as lost. Obviously, the last lockdown was nothing like the first but, as far as we can, we have made the best of it.
Much excitement as the Youngest and I are heading to a nearby park after pre-school to meet a friend. The timing is such that we are taking a packed lunch, which suddenly feels like a big old beautiful blast from the past!
As we busy about getting extra things ready, it transpires that I have lost both mine and Husband’s house keys somewhere in the house. Mine are a giant set that Husband keeps threatening to spring clean (“Why do you need your parents’ house key?! You live 3 hours away!”) But I refuse upon the grounds that bigger sets are not so easily lost. As you can see, this is going well.
In the end, Husband leaves- muttering- with the spare front door key and I leave with the spare back door key, running late from repeatedly rummaging the same 3 bags and coats. After dropping the Youngest off at pre-school, I use my precious hour to nip back home thinking, “It’ll be worth it to peg the washing out.”
That’s a frightening new level of domestication right there.
Upon arrival, I note that Husband must still be out as the car is gone, (I’m driving it) and that the Youngest must be asleep as she’s so quiet (I just dropped her off at preschool). Go round the back praying one of those annoying God-botherer prayers: “please, please, please help me find my keys...” only to reach into my coat pocket- the one I’ve checked 300 times- and pull them out.
I think I need more sleep.
At the park, my friend and I are pleasantly surprised to see the toddlers take to one another immediately (last time we met up, in November, they insisted on running in opposite directions); enabling us to have a decent conversation while they throw sticks into a pond. Alongside the usual lockdown chat, we somehow get on to the subject of teenagers and the realisation that we are officially ‘getting old.’
Now, I know a lot of my regular readers are older than me and may well scoff at the idea of anyone in their mid-thirties feeling old. However… this is the point isn’t it? The point in life where you realise that the generation below you are now adults too… and they’re different. In fact, I do wonder if the gap between two subsequent generations has ever been wider than it is for us ‘Millenials’- those who just about managed to leave high school before getting our first Nokia- and those who have absolutely no memory of life before mobile technology? Lifestyle wise, that’s alot of change barely two decades apart.
We have a good laugh about the things that apparently ‘age’ our pitiful generation- from laughing face emojis to Facebook, side partings, large bags, skinny Jeans, (“What else is there to wear?!”)- and I realise I’m so clueless that I actual Google the fashion question when I get home.
Wow. This is where the real aging comes into play… when you not only have to Google what the young folk are wearing these days, but when you find out, you also don’t like it!
Not only are skinny Jeans and ‘preppy’ labels out (I could never afford them anyway- phew), but apparently wide legs and “athletic, sports labels” are in. Well, there you go. As a teenager in the 90s, we had only one distinct relationship with those fashion choices…
👉 🤣🤣🤣🤣 👈
Nevertheless, I do begin the day looking into my wardrobe and wondering if it is post-lockdown ready. Who am I kidding?! As a rule, I buy the vast majority of my clothes from charity shops and wear them until threadbare. The rest are generally hand-me-downs from my much-more fashionable sister and mother (yes, you read that right), alongside a few rare sale items and clothes I have pretty much owned since the turn of the Millennium. In short: I have always worn clothes that are past season and don’t intend to stop now!
Resolve to have a good clear out over the Easter holidays and hit the charity shops when they reopen in April. With any luck I’ll get a good haul of the skinny Jeans the rest of my generation are throwing out…
Speaking of growing old, I walk home from the school run with my Messy Play buddy. We set up a new baby group right before lockdown and have been asked to think about starting up again in July, as well as helping to get the more established pre-school groups back up and running. I was dreading it to be honest. But thankfully, however, it turns out that we are on the same page… which happens to be a whole new chapter.
See, both of our Youngest children are fast moving out of the pre-school phase and, as such, so are we. We agree on the vital importance of these groups for the community, but recognise that ironically, the need for them has grown at just the point in life where our own personal need for them has gone. Thus, we agree to focus on giving the established groups a fresh start… without reopening our own venture. “I want to serve God in the community,” she says. “The need is there and we have the skills to match…. but I just can’t bear the thought of devoting my whole week to baby groups when I’m finally out of that phase!”
I could not agree more. What’s more, we resolve to give the next few months’ of our usual group days to prayer, instead of just ploughing straight in and doing what we’ve always done. It’s amazing- and scary- how vastly life has changed during the pandemic. But amongst the stories of hope, I do wonder if this is not a great opportunity for the Church to recentre on God and recieve inspiration for change; to reevaluate and reimagine those ministries that were always so hard to shake, instead of simply rushing to recreate them?
It might be another sign of age, but the blank page feels exciting all the same!
Wake up determined to do all of the jobs today while Husband rests. He, however, gets up with a to-do list of his own, insisting that I absolutely must rest so that I am fully recovered for the school holidays. I’ve had cold/flu for two weeks… all I’ve done is rest! But he is insistent and it turns out I can submit when it suits me.
At the end of this week, the house is still a state and the kids break up from school in 5 days. (One has to ask if it’s even worth it at this point…?) Meanwhile, since looking through photos of last March I have resolved to try and shift the lockdown pouch. Since Monday I have walked about 12 hours solid, but eaten approximately one pack of bourbons, 200g of chocolate, a take away curry and a cheese and onion pasty.
It’s a work in progress.
(Apparently another mockable millenian trait is that we are ‘too earnest.’ Well, if earnest still means honest, I’m pretty much screwed aren’t I?!)
Thanks for reading, enjoy your weekend!
Much love xx