Level Two Love


This will be my last post for the COVID-19 diary I’ve been keeping over lockdown, and I’m looking forward to resuming my usual blogging ways.

New Zealand rejoiced as we moved to Level Two on Thursday. We are that much closer to ‘normality’.

We surprise our parents with a quick visit to Whanganui, arriving unannounced in the evening.

There are many, many hugs. The grandparents have been totally desperate to hug Miss E and Master D; lockdown has been hard for them. My MiL has found it particularly hard as she is on her own. Physical touch is her love language and the lack of hugs got her down as the weeks went on. Fortunately she was able to break her bubble in Level Three and hang out with her bestie, but friend-hugs aren’t quite the same as the enthusiastic, leaping-into-arms hugs she got from Miss E and Master D. You are much less likely to crack a rib from a friend-hug.

Full body-slam-grandkid hugs are back!
Oma gets put to work on the swing

We stay with friends who have lots of space for us. They have children of a similar age to ours, and they are thrilled to have friends to play with again. Because their location is not somewhere they can walk safely around the neighbourhood, their children haven’t left their property the entire time over lockdown – although they are on a lifestyle block with tons of room to play.

Because our friends + family would be more than 10, we are unable to celebrate all together. We have to spend the day staggering our time so that everyone gets an equal share of our time. Master D demands to know why we can’t stay for ‘twelve nights’. He is enjoying being back with his friend Z.

But we have online church to get back to, school to get ready for, a new job to prepare for, and we must head back to Wellington.

The trip does us all good. The change of scene is needed, the hugs are wonderful, the conversations are welcome. We come back with our tanks filled.

The children are nervous about starting school. Parents are discouraged from coming on the the school grounds, and those who do must download a tracing app. The children have to line up on marked crosses and sanitise their hands before entering the classroom. They are told not to ‘freak out’ if they accidentally touch someone, but to go and wash their hands.

My children come home talking about avoiding ‘moist breaths’ over their classmates. I can’t get out of them how their day was or what they talked about in class. But I do know the school was prioritising play and re-establishing connections, and I imagine COVID stories will feature for quite some time. Master D, in the meantime, comes home with serious bags under his eyes, and is already asking when he can have a day off!

I have found my new job to be very energising – and definitely got the job thanks to my writing and blogging skills. The hours are flexible, and easily worked around the needs of my family, so I am very grateful to have it!

Most people have no idea how difficult it is to find part-time work that is actually family-friendly. I’m serious, go check your local job search website. The majority of part-time jobs expect workers to be available to come in 24/7 (often on a casual basis), and almost always include weekend work.

It may sound strange to you, but I’ve been saddened to read over and over again reports of workers being able to ‘reconnect’ with their children over lockdown, or for the opportunity to ‘slow down’ from the busyness of normal life. I am not bagging working parents at all(!), but surely the pandemic has highlighted how much the way in which we work and do business has to change? To stop treating workers like they don’t have family, or other commitments in their lives? Getting any work/life balance is impossible for most people – one of those things always loses out. When it takes a pandemic for workers to be able to spend quality time with their families then something is terribly wrong.

While Level Two has reunited me with my loved ones, I am nervous of what is to come over the next few months. The recession, the job losses, the hardships. Life is not going to be ‘the same’. Nor should it be, but it is my prayer that good things will eventually emerge from this worldwide mess.

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