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”.
We started to prank our kids for April Fool’s last year, once they were old enough to understand what it was all about. I don’t like pranks that are mean; I prefer silly pranks. This year (all ideas from Pinterest) we had to use what we had in the house.
We put googly eyes on all the cereal containers.
We froze a couple of bowls of milk and cereal for ‘breakfast’.
The kids loved it.
Day 8 was a good day. I felt pretty normal, and my knee is improving again. We did home school in the morning.
The afternoon was spent zooming friends and family, and going for walks. I did some pruning in the garden.
Definitely nothing earth-shattering.
I have seen lots of memes about life in lockdown, and the ones that make me laugh the most are ones like this because it feels accurate:
All my friends and family without small kids in the house are busy decluttering and cleaning and working and taking up hobbies and having the time to be bored. Not so for us. While we’re not quite the chaos above, I can’t imagine how blimmin’ hard it must to be to be in lockdown with toddlers. I’m pretty sure I would have lost my damn mind by now!
But it’s not a competition to see who is doing it tough. I think of families who live in small houses or apartments, and I am grateful that we have a big house. Especially one with a separate studio that Rev G can work out of for now. We can at least, get away from each other. I think of people who don’t live anywhere near green space for walking. I think of people who haven’t gone into lockdown with good mental health and worry about how they are doing. I think of people in bad relationships and worry for them too. I think of those who live alone – for some, lockdown isn’t too bad, but for some it’s excruciatingly hard.
My brother is really angry when we meet online. His bedroom curtains have fallen down, and he is unable to put them back up due to his disability. While his reaction is out of proportion to the incident, his rage does signify the stress we’re all going through. No one is quite themselves right now. Is he going to have to go through lockdown without bedroom curtains? Is curtain rail installation an essential service? Who knows.
I end the day with doing my Lent study with some people from church. It’s great to see everyone. Some are doing just fine, some are incredibly busy with work, some are finding it mentally tough. One lady tells me the prayer technique I introduced her to last week has kept her sane (it’s the Daily Examen, a spiritual discipline from St Ignatius of Loyola). That one comment makes the blood, sweat and tears of putting the study together totally worth it to me.
Day 6 started off well. I got up for my prayer meeting, and I headed out for a walk with the children.
I wish I could personally thank the person who thought of the ‘bear hunt’ that is keeping children all over the world occupied. Like rock hunting, it turns a walk into an adventure.
Miss E counted 39 stuffed animals on this walk, which took us down little side streets we hadn’t walked down before. The people in my suburb have really embraced the bear hunt, as you can see.
I am thrilled to be able to get out of the house again. My knee isn’t 100% but is okay enough to go for a 20 minute walk. I’ve noticed it is going up (particularly stairs) that exacerbates it, so I can keep that to a minimum. I notice so many beautiful things on my walk, and feel refreshed.
However, by lunchtime both Rev G and I are feeling seedy. He goes off for a nap, and I am not far behind. I develop a bad headache, and realise later it’s a migraine. I usually get visual disturbances with migraines, but not this time. I have to spend the rest of the day in bed in my darkened bedroom.
I still feel yuck (headachey and nauseous) when I get up the next day, and I do my best to parent from the couch. A few weeks before lockdown, Rev G and I bought some activity books and crafts in case school closed. I bust one each of these out and that keeps them occupied for the morning.
In the afternoon, I send them out to the garden to do a nature scavenger hunt. They love it so much they spend the next four house playing outside! I gradually start feeling better, although I worry I am now running a temperature. Our ear thermometer is wildly inaccurate at the best of times, so I don’t really know if I am.
We worry it might be COVID-19, although given that I haven’t seen anyone but my family for two weeks, it seems unlikely. After dinner I stop feeling hot. Perhaps menopause is starting? Who knows?
I stay up until the wee hours of the morning to secure a grocery delivery slot for my parents. Slots fill up so fast that this is the only way to get one – when a new day rolls over. You cannot get a time slot for at least a week.
I watch Avengers Endgame with bleary eyes, and try not to cry when the supermarket website crashes just after midnight. I don’t give up. I watch a bit more of the movie, and after about half an hour the website is up and running again. Fortunately I am able to retrieve the order, and I discover they have added more time slots that are closer than a week away. I am able to get my parents a delivery for Saturday.
When we get up we discover that our kindness mail is going well. Today’s mission is to do something kind for Daddy. The children set the table for breakfast and get Rev G his breakfast cereal. They have collaborated and given US a kindness mission – we have to sing a song to their Oma. Rev G and I decide to sing ‘You’ll never walk alone”.
I sleep in a bit. My knee has stopped improving, and is usually aching and hard to walk on by the end of the day. Rev G and I decide that resting up must be my focus so that I can eventually go out for walks. My own mental health is starting to suffer a bit – I haven’t left the house since well before the lockdown. I get teary when I think about not being able to go for walks. The tears are simply what lack of sleep does to me, so I also prioritise some early nights.
My knee injury is exacerbated by slopes and stairs. We have about 50 steps just to get into our house from the street, and then about 15 stairs to get to the second storey of the house. So, you can see my problem.
I do my daily Christian devotional and tai chi outside in the sunshine. The weather is not as nice, and rain is forecast for several days. I get outside as much as I can, but it’s not easy because of all the steps on our property.
Rev G theoretically has today off, which is why I am able to rest my knee so much. Even so, he has several phone calls with parishioners, providing tech support so they will be able to be part of an online service this weekend. I give thanks that prior to this job, he worked in IT. Helping people participate in shared online worship may be the most important ministry he does throughout lockdown.
The children are pretty good for the morning, and my daughter makes me a fruit salad, unprompted. In the afternoon my son gets really tired and scratchy, but is distracted by making under-the-sea dioramas with his dad.
I get really annoyed at all the Facebook vigilantes on my local FB page. “OMG, a jogger just ran past me too closely!!!!”, “I just saw two ladies walking together!”, “There are people shopping at the supermarket! Stay home!”, “Why is no one wearing masks outside?”.
I wish I was exaggerating, but I guess this is just an example of how panic stops our rational brain from working.
You are not going to catch COVID-19 from a jogger whizzing past you, although that jogger should have tried to give you more room. Those two ladies probably live together; not everyone has traditional family units. People are allowed to get groceries. There is no reason to wear a mask unless you have symptoms – and if you do you should be staying at home.
Today all four of us are tired and cranky. We watch another silly movie after dinner. Once the kids are in bed Rev G and I start coming up with plans for fun things to do with the kids (we are going all out for April Fool’s Day, for example) and projects that need to be done (like gardening, rearranging the garage etc).
We come up with a plan for the next day which includes chores, crafts, baking and exercise. I think these daily and weekly plans will help us get through. We don’t have to follow them to the letter, but having ideas at the ready takes the pressure off our mental load.
I sleep badly again, falling asleep way after midnight.
I do, however, manage to get up for home group prayers. It’s lovely. There are several children clad in PJ’s, and they bring light to my day. It feels good to gather with other believers. Some of them are essential workers, some are married to essential workers. Some are juggling working from home with kids.
I feel better when someone says they aren’t sleeping either. Another reminder that I am not alone in this.
I spend more time in prayer, listening to Pray as You Go while exercising outside. I listen to Christian radio station, Rhema daily anyway, but find it even more comforting in these times. Unlike other stations with wall-to-wall doom and gloom, Rhema are talking about COVID-19 but not revelling in the drama of it. Instead they are repeatedly reminding their listeners of God’s promises.
They play Lauren Daigle’s song ‘Look Up Child”, and it has new meaning today:
Where are You now When darkness seems to win Where are You now When the world is crumbling
Oh, I, I I hear You say I hear You say
Look up child Look up child
Where are You now (Where are You?) When all I feel is doubt Where are You now When I can’t figure it out
Oh, I, I I hear You say I hear You say
Look up child Look up child Look up child Look up child Look up…
You’re not threatened by the war You’re not shaken by the storm I know You’re in control Even in our suffering Even when it can’t be seen I know You’re in control
Oh, I, I I hear You say I hear You say
Look up child Look up child Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say (Look up, look up, look up, look up) Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say (Look up, look up, look up, look up) Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say I hear You, I hear You calling my name, oh Look up child I hear You say, You say, You say (Look up, look up) Look up child Look up child Look up
I spend more time going to the Lord in prayer.
I usually have lunch with Joyce Meyer (via her radio show), and a line from her stands out, “Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do”.
The children and I have fun making obstacle courses for the local children going out on bear hunts. We see several neighbours. We chat briefly at a distance (across the street) from each other. We are all eager for a smile and a wave.
In the afternoon I am tired and let the kids watch too much TV, although Master D does spend a lot of it doing puzzles.
We have to venture out in the car – Rev G and I have flu jabs that were scheduled before the lockdown. The appointments were made together. We have to all go, we can’t leave the children at home! We get stares from people on the street who are walking or going to the supermarket. I’d like a sign that says “We are following orders, honestly!”
It was nice to get outside, even if just for a few minutes at the medical centre. There are lot of people out – all of whom are following physical distance orders. Oh the internet, there’s outrage at people flauting the rules. Obviously I haven’t been everywhere, but I suspect it’s like the panic-buying reporting. If you see story after story, then it must be everywhere, right? Don’t believe it folks.