…bloody hell, it’s hard to be around them and only them all the bloody time!
You’ll have to excuse the language but stressful situations make me swear like a sailor and I think a global pandemic that had turned our entire social order head-over-heels definitely counts as a stressful situation, not to mention the whole hundreds off thousands of people dying aspect.
The Beard and I often joke (joking/not joking) that we must start at least one statement every day with the disclaimer ‘I love my children, but…’.
Generally anyone who starts a sentence with an explanation that what they are about to say isn’t really how it sounds is not to be trusted. I mean, can you think of a single example of anyone who has ever said, ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ or ‘I don’t hate gingers, but…’ and then hasn’t followed that up with something that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are in fact the very ginger-hating racists they deny they are?
You’d like to think that whatever we say it would be fairly obvious we love our children, but I think we mostly just put in that little pre-negative statement caveat in case neighbours or the Chinese government overhear us. We wouldn’t want these people who don’t really know us to think we are truly the terrible parents we are about to sound like once the thought we’ve been wanting to share about why kids aren’t always the best has finally been vented.
Exactly how bad we sound varies on levels of frustration experienced during the day, but if you are wondering I’ll give you some real life (or real life as it was pre Armageddon societal lockdown hells we are all currently stuck in).
So it can range from the lesser ‘I love my children, but I’d quite like to be able to pee with the door closed’ to the more extreme ‘I love the girls, but the thought occurred to me today it would be nice to be divorced so that I didn’t have to deal with them everyday.’ A more recent example would be ‘I love the children, but I think I would actually enjoy this pandemic a whole lot more if I didn’t have kids.’
I know the global nature of this whole shebang is that it is affecting everyone and although the impacts will be much more severe for some people than others, that doesn’t mean we can’t all grieve for or vent about our own individual losses and issues.
In many ways I feel how lucky I am. Our flat, although not ginormous, is also not microscopic and we do have garden space. We both currently have work so no immediate financial concerns. Our friends and family, though distant, are all safe and well. We have the essential items we need to get through this, including toilet roll, pasta, a Netflix subscription and gin. And I am self-isolating with people I love to the moon and back. But… it’s still blooming tough (ah the therapeutic effect of blogging has my ‘bloodies’ tempering down to ‘blooming’ and I’ll be back to ‘whoops-a-daisying’ before we know it).
Like many others we find ourselves now single-handedly trying to manage all the childcare and work without the support services and networks we could rely on. I’m only working part time so trying to shoehorn work around full-time childcare (the Beard has just started a new job so needs to be doing the 9-5) is manageable but it’s exhausting and I don’t know how sustainable it is if this situation continues for a prolonged period.
Everything non-essential has slipped by the wayside. So priorities are all the child maintenance aspects, meeting work expectations and trying to ensure grown-ups are fed and washed on at least a semi-regular basis. Cleaning has slipped below the bare minimum. I know this because yesterday evening when I was clearing the dining table to do some work I had to deal with a whole expedition of ants who had clearly been feasting on all the food junk that is naturally occuring when a toddler, a baby, and two not super-coordinated adults are eating. Especially when you haven’t been thoroughly mopping and sweeping on a daily basis. Which we are now, because I got cleaning shamed by insects! But everything else is just a permanent mess, because one, we don’t have time, and, two, no-one’s going to come over any time soon and see so what’s the point?
It takes so much energy to try and keep the girls, well more the 2 and a bit year old, entertained, especially when trying to protect them as much as possible from the potential upset of all this. Bigger little one is too little to understand what’s going on and although I’ve tried to explain the whole ‘there is a nasty bug, so we must give people their space’ I don’t think she really gets it. That’s good I’m some ways but I don’t want her to notice too much that she is missing friends and playgroups and activities and seeing grandparents and playparks without understanding the reasons for this so I’m going for a whole lot of distraction.
But it is relentless. She doesn’t have friends to play with, so the games we set up we have to participate in, we can’t burn off her energy with a wide variety of different places to go and although the wide range of online activities out there are helpful they don’t hold her attention in the same way that real people would. But we love our kids so we keep on doing the same cosmic yoga kids routine over and over because it’s the only one she likes and we try not to take out our frustrations on her.
I can see why divorce rates may drastically increase after all this. I am an absolute cardboard box to the Beard at times and he has his moments too, but so far we remain confident that we do still love each other. It is hard to be the best version of yourself for your own and everyone else’s sake when you only have so much to give and the end of this nightmy isn’t really in sight anytime soon.
I’ve been making a point in recent weeks, as I tuck big sister up in bed, to ask her about her day and what she has enjoyed doing, (it’s generally dinosaur games) and I share my favourite moments. And then I ask her what she’d like to do tomorrow. Well as this situation drags on I had found myself dreading that final question because asking it served as a brutal reminder that every day is the chuffing same and then we repeat it. I couldn’t tell you if I was coming or going, what time of day it was, let alone day of the week and my nerves were fraying. We started a jokey chalk tally of days in quarantine on our garden fence but that had started to become a bit more poignant. After a particularly awful day where I was cussing in front of kids and then was vile to hubby, brutally haranguing him in front of the minions I figured something needed to change or I would lose myself completely.
I still do not have time, I’m only writing this in a brief work lull before the storm starts up again, so my options are limited, but I figure the first step would be to reclaim a sense of time. I wanted to be able to get to the end of the week and be able to tell you what I had done on different days. We have now implemented a basic daily rota for the week, scheduling different things for different days so that, for example, baking is one day, working on our Papier mache solar system is another. I’m also trying to vary the outdoor excursions so that we aren’t always going to the same two places, and I’m shaking up the little games we play between bigger activities as I don’t want her getting bored of anything I come up with too soon. I mean we probably will go dinosaur hunting everytime we go out but we can play different things in the garden and around the house. I’m sure this is beneficial for the niblet but I think she is far less bothered than I am at constantly repeating the same things, so accept this is more for my own sanity. But that’s okay.
I’m also trying to shore up my sense of self by taking little moments where I can. So when the Beard tags in for childcare after his working day is done, I’m taking 15 minutes to go to the bedroom by myself and put on my headphones and just drown everyone out. That’s okay too.
I love my children, but it’s okay to factor in my own needs. That’s true at any given time but more so than ever in these discombobulating times.