Lockdown Was Easier Than This
At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful cow... lockdown was easier than this.
Not necessarily better, but definitely easier.
I know I’m in the acute minority for whom this is the case, how beyond fortunate I am, how this might sound hugely selfish or plain ridiculous to some, but it’s true for me.
During lockdown, my partner was working from home on reasonably flexible hours.
For me as a stay-home, work-in-pockets-of-time parent, those few months of lockdown were some kind of time-warping wonder.
Luckily for us, our daughter isn’t old enough for the joys of remote learning or the challenge of keeping it engaging that comes with it.
That said, she is definitely old enough to ask “why?” 371 times a day, scale every piece of furniture in a flash then become stuck, and locate mystery sharp objects the second you turn your back.
Lockdown pushed us to review our roles, communication and skill sets.
We did the things you’re meant to do - eat decently, exercise often, keep in touch with friends, dive into those delightful things that were once face-to-face, family-unfriendly events now magically delivered online.
It wasn’t a wholly blissful, argument-free nirvana, but it without a doubt took our teamwork to a new level.
Yes, I missed my friends and family... but I didn’t miss a partner working full time hours plus travel time away from home, rendering me with an equal amount of designated solo parenting time every week, such that extended bouts of lonely-but-never-alone time would only be interrupted if I arranged other people or activities to fill it.
I also didn’t miss blowing up at my kid every Friday, because even if you’ve had sporadic company, it’s a longgggg week.
When the most recent lockdown ended, sitting on my friend’s couch for a cuppa just about made me cry with gratitude.
Hooray for normalcy!
Yet, it took only ten days of my partner back at work for me to knock on my parents’ door with a day bag, a cranky kid and a shaky voice that said “I just can’t do this today”.
The overwhelm itself doesn’t really surprise me, but the speed of its did.
On review my lockdown level of exercise has already halved, which in turn means the time I spend talking on the phone with friends while out walking has dropped right off too.
My daytime nutrition has worsened as leftovers get snaffled for work lunch.
I’m staying up later to get work done, not getting the top up from the every second morning catchup sleep-in we had in place.
Wah, wah, wah, cry me a river. I sound like such a whinger, right?!
As much as it may sound like I don’t enjoy parenting, it is probably the thing that brings me most joy and satisfaction in my life.
I love it, live it and breathe it.
Still, caring for a small person is just bloody hard work unless someone else is present to care about you too.
I know plenty of hacks to get my home and head in order, and I will certainly get there, I just was kinda hoping I wouldn’t have to use them again.
I was hoping we’d learn our lesson, and post-lockdown life would be different to the pre-pandemic “grit your teeth and get through” capitalist conveyer belt life that works for dodgy politicians and their big-wig donors and essentially no one else.
I was hoping it’d really spell it out that child-raising and domestic labour are separate entities that require more than one person to complete without burn out.
I was hoping that “family friendly” workplaces might become that in practice instead of throwaway lines; that parents and carers unable to work (or work more) might finally be recognised and remunerated for their contribution to keeping society functioning.
But it didn’t happen, and beyond the frustration I’m just kind of... sad.
If you are feeling sad too, let’s get together.
Let’s prioritise belonging over busy, drop the facade of being “fine” to enjoy the long days we are struggling with solo, and figure out how to finally stop buying into the systems that are crushing us and deadset annihilating those with lesser privilege.
As the world opens up under the most lacklustre of leadership, I don’t want my hope to close down.
So I breathe myself open to all the sad that needs to be there until I’m forced to change, because as much as I hate it, it always starts with me.
[ID: Anna, a white woman in a white t-shirt, smiles at the camera. Her hand touches her blonde hair near a dangly earring, a red upturned “U” shape under a purple circle.]
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