Before reading this post, I realise that I have written it from a place of great privilege. No close family member or friend has died from Coronavirus, our income pretty much remains the same and we have a house and a garden to enjoy. Please know that I am aware that this puts me in a very different ‘boat’ from so many others. I will never take that for granted.
At the start of lockdown, I remember longing for life to return to ‘normal’. I imagine we’ve all expressed this either in our heads or out loud at some point.
Five weeks into lockdown and I’m not only struggling to recall what ‘normal’ is but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s ‘normal’ we want or just the comfort of hanging on to things that we had become so accustomed to.
It’s dawned on me this week, that there are a number of things about ‘normal’ that I hope do not return and many more things that I hope become permanent once this whole pandemic is over…
I think it would be fair to say that we were all more than a little irritated when the much-needed hair clippers took two weeks to arrive instead of the usual 24 hours. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to repeatedly explain to my offspring that a worldwide pandemic means fewer postmen, social distancing in warehouses and thus a bit of patience required on our part.
In short, we’ve had to reluctantly accept that ‘Prime’ no longer means next day.
The thing is, our kids have grown up in a world where ‘normal’ means getting what we want immediately. I’ve known for a long time that this instant society is not good for us; I think this forced patience might have done us all some favours.
One of the things that I’ve found difficult to swallow these last few weeks, is the judgement that this whole pandemic seems to have ignited. Perhaps it’s because we have little else to do but if you’re a Twitter addict like me, you will have noticed that people seem intent on tearing others down and pointing the finger at anyone who is not doing things their way.
For my own mental health, I’ve had to step away from social media on more than one occasion during lockdown. I’ve realised that we cannot judge others’ situations, as they will almost certainly be different from our own. Tempted as I am, obsessing over what others should or should not be doing during this season, is an unhealthy pastime. It’s much better to just tend to my own garden.
I am hoping that I adopt this mentality for good.
I’ve never been good at resting. I’m a doer by nature and get my ‘kicks’ from ticking things off a list and mastering new skills. It might have taken me a good few weeks but I’m finally beginning to see the benefits of slowing down.
I no longer wake up and mentally run through of my to-do list before I’ve taken my head off the pillow. I still tend to give myself one reasonable task per day, for sanity’s sake, but on the whole I’ve been quite happy just pottering.
I didn’t think that I would ever say this, but I no longer feel as though I lack purpose. I’m truly embracing the opportunity to rest and I think it’s doing me the world of good. Even my husband has noticed that I’m much calmer than normal so that has to be a good thing!
Whilst some people are judging, others are stepping up to the plate and doing anything they can to support those around them. The many selfless acts being carried out have negated the nastiness floating around and I’ve been encouraged to try to do the same.
Having been furloughed from work, I’m in the fortunate position of having more time on my hands than usual. It’s been a pleasure to run even the smallest of errands for my elderly neighbours who I normally have no contact with from one month to the next. I’ve also enjoyed volunteering at our local community hub a couple of times per week. Seeing the joy on people’s faces as you leave a car-load of food on their doorstep, is priceless.
Our community hub has been overrun with people signing up to volunteer, so much so that they’ve had to turn people away. This is what true community looks like and I hope that it stays.
You know what I haven’t missed? Buying new clothes. I know!
Not so long ago, the thought of going a whole month without buying something new to wear would have been a challenge. I’m now more than two months in and haven’t given clothing websites more than a second glance. Looking at the drop in clothing sales, I know that I’m not alone in this.
Maybe it’s because I’m not seeing anyone other than the people I’m doing my level best to avoid in the condiments aisle, but for the most part, it all just feels frivolous. My priorities have changed and for the better.*
For me, this season has put a spotlight on so many of the simple things in life – nature, people, my home, friendship – things that we so often take for granted.
I’m appreciating the friends and family that I miss more than ever. Even the people I am doing life with right now, although intensely annoying at times (keeping it real as always), are blessing me in so many ways.
Then of course there are the key workers who we’ve probably all taken for granted until now – refuse and postal workers, cleaners, teachers, supermarket assistants, NHS workers and so many more.
Week 5 and I’ve felt strangely more content than at any other time during lockdown. Remember last week, when I said that I was feeling under pressure to do it right? Forget learning a new language, or becoming the funnest mum on the planet, I think I might have just worked it out…I’ve taken the pressure off myself, am starting to embrace certain aspects and am adjusting to a new life, much of which I will be clinging onto when this is over. I sincerely hope that the new ‘normal’ looks a little different than it used to.
*Please don’t hold me to this. I’m well aware that a) we are in unusual circumstances and b) a leopard rarely changes its spots.