I get a good night’s rest. I am still suffering from the effects of gluten, but it lessens as the day goes on.
I can only liken it to an LED bulb that gets brighter and brighter as time goes on. In the morning I am forcing myself to move and shower and parent, but by mid-afternoon I have vacuumed the house and tidied up and prepared the veggies for tonight’s dinner.
We have online church. Rev G puts an incredible amount of time and effort into those 40 or 50 minutes each Sunday. Despite being an IT genius, every Sunday since we’ve moved online something invariably goes wrong at some point with the technology. We are used to it; no one demands perfection. I notice the number of attendees is regular (and high for the church) – they too, need this point of connection and worship.
In the evening I have arranged for a Netflix Party with friends, who were ‘keen’. But no one shows up. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel really stink.
The kids have had a normal day. I too, feel as if life is almost ‘normal’. It’s funny how quickly we can adjust. I wonder how long it will take us to stop social distancing and treating everyone we meet outside as a possible carrier of contagion.
I’m awaiting the government’s announcement tomorrow with baited breath. Will lockdown go on? Will we ease into stage 3? I think it would be wise to continue lockdown for another two weeks, but I am not in possession of all the facts, and I trust our leaders to make the right decision. They have been exemplary so far.
The children started off with a class Zoom call, which is equivalent to herding cats, but the teacher managed it. The children were set work. Because it’s Montessori, and is a mixed age class (5-8 year olds), they are given the same core tasks, but depending on ability, the tasks get harder.
Master D was given the task of creating a picture of what he’d been up to during the school holidays, so naturally he drew a picture of himself and Pikachu rescuing a mummy and baby crocodile.
Miss E also had to do the same assignment, but also had to write about it. She did that in five seconds, and then got on with what she really wanted to do: composing a poem about Easter. Here it is.
Easter is near
so do a dance
because the Easter bunny
And finally Easter is here
You walk past a bush
and you realise
an Easter Egg is there!
The children are surprisingly good about doing schoolwork, and only Master D complains. “I don’t want to do schoolwork!”, he whines, before settling down to actually do his schoolwork for 40 minutes with little input from me.
They had to do some printing, and we had a good look at the ‘virtual shelves’ created by their teacher, for ideas of what to explore next.
The Government has created a home school TV network, with some seriously great content and fantastic presenters. Suzy Cato, Karen O’Leary, Nathan Wallis. So cool. Despite saying it is on demand, it isn’t, only the live stream. Rev G works out a way to record it as most of the shows (covering a range of topics, like literacy, history, Te Reo Maori, art, P.E. etc) aimed at younger children are on during the time we do school work.
TVNZ, if you had shows of this calibre on during ‘normal times’, we might actually watch it!
After lunch the children have free play time, watch a bit of TV and run around on the trampoline like lunatics playing a new game with Rev G.
Rev G and I heave a sigh of relief that schooling went well.
In the evening I am dismayed to re-hurt my knee by the simple act of standing up from sitting on a chair. I guess the tendons are not as healed as I thought. I will have to take it easy again, which is so frustrating.
I get up for my prayer group. Everyone is anxious about how they will juggle schooling demands with their paid work. Even though I am not currently working, I’m anxious about it too.
The parents all have a Zoom meeting with the teacher, who explains what the day will look like. It’s pretty wonderful, low-key stuff with absolutely no pressure for those who are not able to keep up with it.
I applaud the teacher for all the hard work she has put in to making the online resources. Montessori is structured quite differently to regular school. Tray of ‘work’ are put on shelves for the children to take as they are interested. The teacher has set up virtual shelves, with different areas of the curriculum.
Each task has bullet points that get harder, depending on the level of the child e.g. a maths task is to identify numbers on letterboxes on your daily walk. Older children can try adding the numbers together.
I spend much of the day turning our ‘sun room’ into a school room for the kids, making sure all our craft and paper materials are in one place. I am grateful for this space. The kids could work off our dining room table, but it’s a pain to keep moving things on and off it for meals. I also hope it might make a difference psychologically to have a ‘school room’.
On our afternoon walk I have a hideous encounter with an elderly lady who swears at me because I didn’t give her enough space when I passed her. She was chatting to a friend (not at the recommended distance, I must add), in the middle of a narrow footpath. On one side is the busy road with cars, the other is a cliff face, so there is nowhere else to go. She didn’t hear us saying ‘excuse me’ as we tried to pass her, and got a fright – but I don’t think that warrants yelling at me and calling me a bitch in front of my kids.
I am badly shaken, and am now anxious about running into her again on our walks. But she won’t stop me. It is becoming increasingly obvious that people – like her – are starting to crack under the strain of lockdown. An elderly friend of mine is tearful that she might be expected to stay home for months when we move out of lockdown. She feels this is inhumane, and would rather risk getting the virus than stay home for months and months. I can’t say I blame her.
I realised something the other day – which is a good thing. Over December and January I really struggled with continual tiredness, a feeling of to-the-bone weariness, that went on and on and on. At the time we put it down to my autoimmune disease, and indeed after a blood test my meds were tweaked a bit as I needed more.
I felt better over February and some of March, but since lockdown I have struggled with it again. This time the reason is clear: my beautiful children are exhausting, and caring for them without a break (as we did between jobs over December and January) takes its toll on me. I marvel how I survived their infancy and toddlerhood. The kids are much easier to manage now, but they are still loud, boisterous extroverts who need a LOT of stimulation. It is no wonder I am weary at the moment. I’m actually pleased to know it wasn’t my AI disease after all!
I am approaching the next few weeks of homeschooling with some dread. School starts back online this coming Wednesday, and I have no idea what the teacher has planned, and how much of my own headspace it will take up. How much preparation will I need to do? How can my two possibly sit still and learn from a video conference? My brain is full up and I am hoping that the teacher’s plan is low key. My children attend Montessori, so I am hopeful that it is.
Rev G is his usual amazing self. He sees my exhaustion and tells me he will take care of the kids today. He has plans that involve them being outside for as much as possible.
I go for a long walk. The forecast was for terrible weather, but it is sunny and warm – another miracle for this time of year. As is my habit, I photograph little pockets of beauty along the way.
As I am walking I get a message from someone that blows my mind.
This person has done a lot of thinking over the lockdown and realises that they need God. They have a need for a spiritual side of life and they’ve come to me for advice. This is an Eminem moment for me: His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…
I worry I will say the wrong thing. I ask God to give me the right words for this person. I know that finding the right church will be crucial for them, and I pray that they find a church where they are accepted for who they are. Reaching out like that takes guts and a lot of insight, and I am honoured that this person chose me to talk to. I will be praying for them!
I spend the afternoon chatting to my parents and brother; then soaking in the silence, pottering around, feeling quite content.
I had grand plans for today, most of which never happened.
I wanted to walk in a nearby reserve, but today all four of us have been incredibly tired. I am learning to hold any plans lightly in lockdown. I know I should get outside because the weather forecast for the next few days is rubbish, but I cannot summon the willpower. I potter around the house, read a book, and do my best to parent.
The kids and I make two batches of tortillas, although I turn my gluten free ones into something more akin to naan, with garlic butter on top, as GF tortillas are not exactly nice normally.
Today is the first day since we moved to level three and four, that Rev G has not done some work. It is nice to have time together to relax, and to not have to shoulder the parenting burden for hours on my own.
It is such a chilled out day, I barely have anything to report.
It started off well. We had a special birthday prayer meeting for the son of one of the members. It was beautiful, and he looked like he was having a great time. We managed to get a present to him (something my children thought of, unasked. I love their empathy). He unwraps it and his smile makes my day.
I went off to have a shower, and when I got out I heard bloodcurdling screams from both children, fighting about something stupid. I try to break it up and get nothing but attitude and defiance from the kids. I’m so tired. I lose my shit.
Rev G walks in after I’ve been dealing with tantrums, including my own, for about 40 minutes. He is also exhausted and decides to take the day off. He doesn’t work Fridays, so he decides to swap it for today. He helps the kids tidy their rooms and peace is temporarily restored.
We make hats for tomorrow’s crazy hat challenge – I am ridiculously pleased with mine, because it’s quite funny. The kids come up with some cool creations.
We make a video to go along with the kids song for Sunday’s service. Then we have our daily Zoom catch up with family. The kids are crazy and rude and not listening. I give up and leave them and Rev G to it. I angry cry for a minute outside, and then go for a walk to clear my head. The walk helps.
I know I am really tired due to daylight savings ending. Today I’m just sick of my kids. I’ve had at least one of them home without a break for three weeks now, and I’m over it. I’m sure there are screeds of parents feeling the same way. Tomorrow is another day, and I hope I wake up in a better frame of mind.
My brain is just full. I feel in need of a week at a Fijian spa, or a few hours in a sensory deprivation tank.
One friend is taking a break from social media as the negativity is all too much. Not one, but three overseas friends of mine are annoyed at how their country’s response to the virus is being perceived, almost as if it is a personal attack on their life choices to live where they are. I notice people taking things the wrong way on social media, taking offence where none is meant – well, more than is usual. No one is themselves right now, and nor should they expect to be. These are extraordinary times, and the lockdown measures, while necessary, do not come without a measure of trauma.
The kids manage to stop squabbling for a bit. I notice they have lots of questions about scary things today. This is very common when under stress; anxiety about something particular becomes generalised to other things. For example, my son is concerned about burglars, Lady Gaga (he’s terrified of her), spiders, the dark, curtains being open. So many things. I know this is behind today’s bad behaviour. It doesn’t make it any less exhausting to deal with. I resolve to message Lady Gaga for help, she seems like a lovely lady to me.
The news from the government is promising, the number of new cases is dropping. For the first time I am hopeful that we might get out of lockdown in two weeks – well, to level three in some parts of the country anyway.
I am too tired to attend our church’s Maundy Thursday online service. As I said, my brain is closed for the time being. My Dad calls up to check on me, after I walked out on the meeting. Bless him. I watch mindless fluff on TV and zone out.
I sleep so badly – I don’t fall asleep until well after 2am – so I sleep in and miss my prayer meeting. I don’t know why I cant’t sleep, the past few nights have been fine. I’m honestly not feeling stressed about lockdown anymore; living this way is almost normal. But perhaps there is still lingering stress in my body and this is how it manifests, who knows?
I fumble to get showered and dressed, and attend a Mainly Music Zoom catch up with my breakfast toast and tea in hand. It is lovely to catch up with a few families and to hear how they are coping. (For my overseas readers, Mainly Music is a faith-based music and movement playgroup that many churches run for under 6 year olds.)
After that we colour in eggs for the NZ Easter Egg Hunt, that is following in the bear hunt’s footsteps. Someone gives me a link to some Christian-based eggs so we do those too – a reminder that Easter has much more significance that chocolate eggs to millions of Christians all over the world. We display these with our bear for all the hunters in our neighbourhood to find.
Both my children have been very run down, and I decide to return to our previous ‘smorgasbord’ meals, where I put lots of options on the table, and the kids choose what and how much of it they eat. I don’t know why we got out of this habit, because it works well. Anyway, because the children are run down (which I think is due to the stress of moving/change/different bugs here in Wellington), I am more vigilant about what they are eating than normal, and I want to ply them with as much fruit and veg as possible.
Sure enough, both children choose way more fruit and veg at their meals today than they would if it was plated up for them. Rev G and I are plying them with vitamins, iron tonic and cough medicine (for Miss E) too, but nothing beats real food. I hope we see some more spark in them soon.
Miss E is uncharacteristically belligerent and difficult in the afternoon; another sign she’s not well and probably over this whole lockdown thing. Master D is chipper, and entertains me with a magic show. He has a top hat and a cape, and his favourite trick is to ‘vanish’ by swiftly running out of the room. I of course, am impressed by his magical capabilities. I notice that this is the most chilled out and funny he’s been for days, and I’m grateful to see this side of him again.
I venture out to the supermarket for the first time in weeks. Rev G is our designated shopper but he’s not able to do it today, and we need something urgently for Miss E. I queue for 30 minutes. No one talks or acknowledges anyone else in the queue. I don’t mind. I listen to ‘Focus on the Family’ and Geoff Vines on Rhema. Their calm, sensible, life-giving teaching adds so much to my day.
I am drawn to this Bible verse – although so much from the Bible is leaping from the pages with relevancy at this time:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message Translation)
Therefore we do not lose heart. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
Despite the circumstances I find myself in, stuck in my bubble; I believe this experience is a powerful teacher, and I believe that God is renewing me day by day. None of us will be quite the same people we were before lockdown, and I fervently hope that many things in our society are changed because of this shared experience.
After these deep thoughts, I get into the supermarket. The shelves are well stocked and I find all the items I need. I thank the lovely young man at the checkout; he and I have chatted before all this coronavirus stuff. He gives me a grin. “I’m just doing my job”, he says. I tell him about my cousin who works for the same supermarket down south, and how knackered the staff are. “Yep, it’s bloody mad,” he says.
On the main street I am surprised by the number of cars on the road. It’s not quite pre-lockdown numbers but it’s not ‘The Quiet Earth” either. I wonder to myself if it’s people getting sick of lockdown, but other than lots of cars, I don’t see anyone opening flouting the rules.
The government announces the release of education resources so all school children have something to do when school ‘starts back’ next week. This includes two TV channels being created for this purpose.
If you wanted a sign that school will not be back after lockdown is set to (theoretically) finish, this it it. School was shut at stage three, and is seems unlikely to me that we will roll back to stage two (where schools are allowed to open) for several more weeks. Regional roll-outs are on the cards. Wellington has COVID cases, but not as many as in other regions. I am trying not to dwell on when we will get out of lockdown, and I hold that four-week time frame lightly.
For some reason I want to listen to Tracy Chapman, so I shut myself off in the sun room from the children who are playing a noisy game, and listen to her self-titled debut album. It is moving and angry and sad and important, and is just as relevant today as it was when it was released. I remember the songs coming out in the late 80’s, but I was too young to really appreciate them, or Chapman’s artistry and advocacy (I was busy listening to New Kids on the Block, that’s how sophisticated my musical taste was at the time). I got into her music in my late teens, and ‘Fast Car’ still has the power to immediately transport me to my university days. One of her songs quite literally changed my life – but that’s a post for another day.
We end the day doing something fun I’ve seen many of my friends doing on Facebook – taking virtual roller coaster rides. Both kids get into a washing basket each, and Rev G and I move the basket in sync with the coaster. The kids LOVE it; Miss E declares that “this is the best day of my life”.
The day dawns, bringing grey clouds and strong winds. I make it to my morning prayer group. I’ve never met any of these people in real life, but they are becoming friends, and I look forward to this time each morning.
Miss E is tired and seems to have picked up yet another cold. She still has a rattling cough (cold induced, not the ‘rona); it’s been over three weeks now. She has been checked over by doctors who say her lungs are clear and she will be fine, but I still worry.
The kids make cheese scones. Because I am gluten free, we make two separate batches, and it means they can do each step all by themselves. They love it, scone making is so tactile; and there are no arguments over whose turn it is to stir.
The weather is too cold to risk taking Miss E out, so the kids do Cosmic Yoga instead. I make a quiche for dinner, and a pear cobbler to use up some of the huge bag of pears we were given just before lockdown. I am Master Chef today.
All four of us are so tired, which I put down to a combo of Miss E’s bug and daylight savings ending. I always find that one hour time change mucks me around for at least a week.
I attend a cuppa catch-up with folks from church. They are in good spirits, although some are working in government jobs, responding to the COVID-19 crisis, and they are frazzled.
I write out a wee plan for the week, doing one or two special things a day. Tomorrow we will colour Easter eggs for the ‘egg hunt’ our Prime Minister, the amazing Jacinda Ardern has decreed. I will do anything she commands. We will also make tortillas – not a command from our Dear Leader. Thursday is making crazy hat for Friday’s family challenge. On Good Friday we have a special stations of the cross prayer walk to do around the neighbour. I am so grateful for creative resources such as this.
By mid-afternoon all four of us have had it. We pop on a kid’s movie (A Scooby Doo one, which happens to be my favourite show from childhood), and veg out. The kids have done zero schoolwork today and I don’t care one bit.
For me the days are blurring into one, and I can barely remember what day of the week it is. Instead of my children needing a break from school and activities at the weekend, they are bouncing off the walls from boredom and lack of stimulation. This is a downside of being an extrovert. My kids need other kids. On the grapevine, I hear that schools might be shut for quite a while, and I wonder how I will cope. I try not to think too hard about that!
We spend the weekend taking long walks and working in the garden. I live for our walks, and am grateful that my knee is healed enough for me to get out. We take different routes each time, and I love to seek out little pockets of beauty along the way.
We continue with our craft-making extravanganza – God knows where we will put all the damn things when this is over! Anyway, E makes her own sword, while D and I cut out ninja stars. I can’t believe ninja stars aren’t essential items at the Warehouse.
The technology we use for church works for me this time, and the service is wonderful. Afterwards, Rev G has been inundated with messages about how meaningful it was, and I am so glad for him. No one has yet produced a ‘101 ways to minister during a pandemic’ guide, and I know he has felt out of his depth. But he is doing really well.
I catch up with some of my friends for afternoon tea. We all wear fascinators and pearls and tiaras. It was wonderful to see them and to have a laugh. They are all very busy with work, especially now that water cooler discussions have to become online meetings.
We have a fun family night, playing hide and seek – although I have to bow out early after Master D inadvertently hits me on my bad knee! I am grateful for frozen pizza, which makes dinner feel like a real treat.
The weather is bleak and miserable today, and my mood seems to match it. I make it to my prayer meeting, and I am grateful for this encouraging group of strangers-who-are-feeling-like-friends-now.
Rev G is ‘on’ the kids today, although it is clear that his mind is on his work, and not them. Not for the first time, I feel resentful of how the church seems to be getting the best of him during this time, and not us. I am sure I am not the only spouse feeling this way. Right now is one of the busiest times of the year for the church – Easter is not the time to put in the bare minimum of energy if you are a minister.
I’m really tired today, and it takes me ages to summon the energy to have a shower and get dressed. But today is ‘Formal Friday’, so I throw on my best dress, and have fun doing my hair and makeup.
My son walks in from a walk with his father and sister. “Mum, you look really nice,” he says, I think for the first time ever.
The rest of my family dress up for our daily Zoom catchup, and I have a giggle sharing ridiculous Snapchats with my cousin, J. I am so grateful for technology today.
My parents, MiL and brother are suitably dressed for our catchup. We share some laughs. Next week’s challenge is making up a crazy hat. My recycling bin was made for a time such as this! Still, everyone is a bit down today, and we are running out of things to say to each other. I resolve to share some jokes or poems etc the next time we meet.
After the call, we catch up with friends from down south, and film a video segment for our church’s Palm Sunday service. I wrote a rather silly, short children’s play for Palm Sunday two years ago, which we’ve decided to recycle. Recording segments and putting the video has provided some fun and something to do for several people in our church, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like.
At home we are all a little snippy and shouty with each other. The children don’t eat their dinner, so they are put to bed early. Rev G and I enjoy the quiet and watch more of “The Man in the High Castle”.