Mums in lockdown – up, down, up, down; tales from my seat on the Coronacoaster

Two people have said ‘coronacoaster’ to me so far today and YES, AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH.

Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I’ve been keen to share some stories from mums during lockdown. And I thought that I couldn’t really do that without my own babbling account of it first. So here I am.

I’m currently sat in our summerhouse at the bottom of our garden, fresh off the phone to my bestie. I am frequently peering out of the window towards our house to see what’s going on in there. Hubs is stood at the kitchen sink, toddler is in her highchair. It’s lunchtime. Being down here is like pressing the mute button. It all looks pretty peaceful in the house but there is definitely some toddler frustration afoot; the piercing ‘NO’ and relentless ‘I want’. “No darling, we say ‘i’d like’ or ‘please can I’…..”. Oh no, not today we don’t.

Today is a Wednesday and since I took redundancy, I have tried to maintain a few days a week where I can focus on stuff; finding a job, life admin, sorting our wills out, writing. But focus just now seems like a thing of the past. I have lists galore and desires a plenty and frequent positive pangs of ‘ok let’s go!’ but my brain largely feels like mashed potato. Not in an incapable way, but just in an ‘I can’t see, where the hell do I start?’ way. I think the potato needs more milk. Or I need a clear project.

This week so far, I have had a prospective work call, sold a few bits on Facebook Marketplace, planted more bulbs and seeds, actually physically visited some friends and got groceries delivered. So, how many points do I get?

Today, with John taking the parenting lead I am not ashamed to admit that when he took her out for a buggy stroll to visit the local peacock this morning, my shoulders relaxed and I released an unknowingly pent up deep breath as soon as the front door shut behind them. This sort of shocked me and was a stark reminder that I still really need time to myself. Yesterday John took a nap when baby napped as he was feeling a bit bleugh. The weather was gorgeous so I opened the bifolds, grabbed my laptop and started researching how to self publish a book. I REALLY enjoyed being on my own. My actual own.

Thinking back to March where this all began it at least felt clear; stay in, don’t get or give corona. Navigating the MUST GET A GROCERY SLOT excitement/fear and Amazon-ing toddler activity must haves. Heading out in to our garden with the little one felt like a brand new experience in a weird way. I have never really liked our garden much. Although SO very lucky to have it, it’s not massively baby friendly, we need our patio doing etc. It’s just not quite right. Needs work. But when forced into a lockdown, it became our little bit of private nature. The birdsong felt magical, Elodie picking up her first worm was a moment and collecting stones in buckets became a thing.

Now Elodie requests to go out in the garden every day. I know this will seem like such a normal thing to some but before lockdown we’d mainly get our outdoor fix in the local woods or parks. But with the recent balmy weather, we’ve largely spent these early summer days out there, paddling pool filled, toys strewn across the lawn. At times it has felt holiday-like.

But the ‘simple life’ highs really do continue to play footsie with the worrisome lows and my ability to live in the now really has been tested. Like what part of this fucking rollercoaster are we even on now? Have we passed the sheer drop? Have we bombed into the pitch black bit and are about to emerge into a new, bright, exciting twist?

To avoid this post cascading into a full on dissertation, here are some other bits of note:

  • I started running. I started to enjoy it. I got injured. I stopped running.
  • I did a Linked In post after my last week at work. It got 37,000 views. I’m not sure what happened there. I don’t have a job yet.
  • I started planting seeds and bulbs. This is an ongoing effort and I love it.
  • I thought lockdown would be the perfect time to start Elodie on the toilet given a fair few signs were there. There have been loads of poos on it and a fair few wees now. But i’m unsure if I’m doing it right or consistently enough.
  • I have not made banana bread. Or done a single Joe Wicks workout. But I have enjoyed watching him.
  • I can however make a caramel iced coffee though so?
  • I have become more resourceful, thrifty some might say. I painted an old wooden bucket that was covered in cobwebs in the shed and turned it into a planter. We turned two crappy old side tables into a makeshift ‘garden table’ for Elodie.
  • I’ve successfully made better efforts at ‘mealtimes together’ with food we can all tuck into after getting SO SICK OF MAKING DIFFERENT THINGS and effectively having double the amount of mealtimes per day; hers and ours. This is a work in progress.
  • We made her (I ordered, he built and painted) a garden playhouse of (my) dreams
  • I’ve really perfected the pavement chalk rainbow.
  • I’ve spent a lot of money. On food mainly.
  • I have put on a lot of weight. See above.
  • I haven’t done enough to look after my head. The early morning running was helping but then my ankle ballooned up.
  • I’ve hugely enjoyed (still enjoying) family of three time but it’s always tainted a little bit with a fear or underlying sadness that this isn’t the norm, it’s a weird interval and that life will start to tip back into how it used to be. I think the fear comes from the fact that John’s life/work will resume and mine will look totally different post redundancy.
  • I’ve felt the guilt – mum guilt, partner guilt, daughter guilt. And all the other guilt. All of it.
  • Elodie turned 2 and her birthday was genuinely wonderful.
LOVE RUNNING ME

Some things do remain the same though, but perhaps are heightened due to the LD. Here’s one. Every single morning and in fact every single night my overarching thoughts are those of food. What the hell are we all going to eat tomorrow? Especially Elodie. I’m not hugely excited when it comes to thoughts of making stuff and this is largely because there is not a hope in hell that we have all the ingredients needed if I do find a new recipe that appeals. And with our new efforts in eating the same stuff, together, just defrosting batched stuff we’ve made her previously sort of doesn’t fit with this new approach. Note to future Vicky reading this back: NONE OF THIS MATTERED DID IT?

It’s a thumbs up from her!

Structure appears to be something that has gone out of the window in so many respects due to lockdown. Although I have tried and been intermittently successful in embracing this in some ways and have found such fun in just rolling with the days, it has tested John and I. John’s paid gigs have largely been put on ice until sporting events are more safely up and running so we have found ourselves tussling over limited time where we can both ‘work’ on other shit. This has obviously led to thoughts of ‘Who’s in charge today?’ with regards the small person and ‘Why don’t my needs exist as much as yours? Just because I don’t have a job just now doesn’t mean I don’t have a need to work. And ‘work’ could be writing for my own friggin’ blog or sorting out the car insurance. Or looking for some new sandals!’ Good point well made I thought, that last one? We’ve ended up sort of tripping over one another a bit as we shuffle around the house unclear on who is doing what or where our time and attention could be most efficiently directed. I’ve been accused of losing his sunglasses (they were in the pocket of HIS jacket in the laundry basket), he’s been the unknowing receiver of unfavourable hand gestures behind his back as he went out to enjoy a lovely run. It seems either I am in charge or John is. We’re not really combining efforts that much unless we have a proper plan for the day. But we are doing our best and will probably come out of this as more of team than ever before.

I am realising though just how lucky I am and grateful for the fact that Elodie will happily go to nap time or bedtime with either of us putting her down. I know families where the onus of this sits largely with mum. But hearing John on the monitor do the voices to The Gruffalo or chatting to Elodie about her not having boobs yet – HAHAHAHAHAHA, her fave conversation piece at the moment – is probably one of my favourite things. As well as nabbing back a precious 20 mins to clear up the dinner from the floor.

This week we received an update from our childminder, Chel, that for numerous reasons all determined by C19, we likely wont have access to her until later in the summer. I think this has floored my mood again. And not because of the above admission of needing time to myself or my ambitions to work, but because of something else. The closest I can get to a reason is that it’s another part of normal life that feels so far away. I miss picking Elodie up from her two days a week where she will tell me what she’s done, who she’s seen and to get little behaviour pointers and notes for me to read through. It also deeply saddens me that the childminder, who is honestly the most incredible and selfless lady, is now being so negatively impacted business wise by this bloody pandemic to the point where she doesn’t know if she will recover. She misses her kids, they miss her. Elodie is talking about her less and less because I am worried that if I mention her too much that she’ll get excited to go and hang out with her.

In the absence of Chel I think I am actually doing an ok job at keeping Elodie’s brain firing. I mean I don’t think you have to do too much with a toddler to ignite those little neural pathways and actually my current thoughts are favoured more towards helping to guide her behaviour wise more than anything else. So for now, I am just trying to instinctively follow what she wants to learn next and it’s allllll about letters and numbers just now **checks Amazon order list for when the hell the new magnets are arriving.**

What is becoming clear though is she is absolutely effected by lockdown. On walks she will grab my leg if someone walks towards us. On yesterdays visit to a friends garden, she initially hid behind her straw hat as she gripped tightly around John’s neck. After a while she warms up which is reassuring but I know a lot of you might be experiencing that same thing just now. And I suppose it’s just something we’re going to have to work through when this coronacoaster eventually grinds to a halt and we stagger towards the exit.

But for now, I am publishing this blog in hope that it feels like some sort of proper accomplishment for today. Oh and then I’m off to make a vegan lasagne for the first time. I have the fear. It’s going to be grimtown isn’t it?

Vx

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