Friday, 1 May 2020

life in lockdown : a diary for my children

to my children.

in the decades going forward, i imagine you'll look back on this time in history. and so i wanted to write something to remind you of how we spent this time in lockdown.

a lot has happened in these past few weeks, and as i type, the whole world is battling coronavirus, covid-19. we are battling it by staying in our homes, reducing trips out to only the essentials, and washing our hands a lot.

we are taking these steps to stop the virus from spreading too fast, so that the health care professionals don't have to make choices about who lives and who dies, so that we give everyone a chance, and so the system we have doesn't get overwhelmed.

our NHS staff in this country are already doing a fantastic job, and the government have created Nightingale hospitals to house many more people on life support machines. the curve seems like it is staying steady, and we are now in May.



every Thursday evening we go out our front door, stand on our driveway and clap at 8pm, we clap for a couple of minutes to encourage the NHS workers, and to thank them. we can hear the ships in our nearby dockyard, and we can hear the loud noises all the way from the refinery cheering them on. it's emotional every time. we stand at the edge of our driveway and wave to our neighbours.

daddy does the shopping once a week. he queues outside the store, as they only let a few people in at a time, and he wear a ski snood to cover his mouth. he tells me it isn't very nice shopping at the moment - there are people saying 'please remember to keep your distance' over the tannoy, and people are fighting over the last of the eggs.

it's been impossible to get yeast & bread flour, though eggs, plain flour and toilet paper are now usually in good stock. daddy always gets lots of yummy things to eat.



this all started for us on March 16th 2020, when your daddy brought his laptop and coffee maker home from his work and set up a permanent office in our top room. the government had started to make recommendations for safe "social distancing", but only those with more serious conditions had been told to actually "self isolate". because of my type 1 diabetes, we thought it was a wise precaution. also that you, my boy, spent most of the beginning of March battling one sniffle or another. you needed time to recover completely, in case coronavirus came to pay us a visit.

in those first few weeks, everything had to be cancelled. plans for weddings, mother's day, birthdays, and we started to be social over FaceTime and the phone. mummy was so grateful for her social media presence, because it helped her to feel connected to other people. we are all so grateful for technology at this time.




for me, my immediate reaction to the idea of lockdown was confusion and fear. i didn't know what was happening, i'd seen how it had played out in Italy (they were the epicentre at the start), and thought for sure somehow we'd bypass it. and then i thought 'how can i possibly be a full-time mummy with no outside help?!" - i was terrified that i wouldn't cope well, that i'd lose it or lose myself with no free time, or that you both would be irreparably damaged in some way.

that feeling lasted about a couple of days. because what actually ended up happening surprised me...



firstly, this has taught me so much more gratitude than i already knew (and i'm a pretty positive and grateful person). life is simpler, stripped back, we don't have the opportunity to be grateful for some of those seemingly 'bigger' things, like holidays, meals out, family gatherings, trips to the zoo or the park... instead we are 'forced' to see the little things, like new flowers in our garden, how many worms we can find in our soil, how many times we can re-make our Brio train track, how we all love a good long bath, how we love to dance to music together.

secondly, this has made our family unit is tighter than ever. we love each other so much more. we see each other. we respect each other. we know how to work together. you are both loving more time with your daddy nearby, even if he is in the office lots of the time.

we get out on a family walk most days, some days just boys go out and girls stay home. on our walks we look for rainbows and teddy bears in people's windows, and we spot new chalk drawings on their driveways. we look for new flowers and new plants in the hedgerows together. we learn their names.



my son, you have grown so much in these last few weeks. you're so helpful and kind, full of joy, and you're so clever with your train track creations. you love to cook and to garden with me, and you love to run with daddy and talk about engineering. i always thought you were extroverted, but it turns out you're a little more like me than i thought - you love to be home, building trains, lighting fires, baking, eating, dancing, snuggling. listening to you talk these days is amazing, you love a good conversation, and we can't wait to hear what you've got to say. you've also become so good at playing on your own, developing so many stories in your head and creating new experiments.

my daughter, you're already turning into the amazing woman i know you will become. so relaxed, so patient, so clever, and so incredibly beautiful. what a smile. you've started eating your first foods during lockdown, you love egg yolk, mummy's homemade gravy, carrot and courgette puree, banana and coconut milk yogurt. but you're not sure about a spoon - all food is either on the end of mummy's finger (unless it's a banana, which somehow you like to smash and suck and chew until it's disintegrated all over the highchair). you can now roll over, and you can sit up with assistance. you still sleep like a champion.



daddy has become more relaxed in our home, he's never been in it for so much time. he's grown a beard, and mummy thinks he looks really handsome. he's also had a couple of haircuts from me too! daddy is absolutely loving being with us all so much of the time, and he will miss us a lot when he goes back into the office. daddy really misses beers out with his friends, and he misses his long rides to work.

mummy has become even more of a hippie than she already was - i now make our own sourdough bread, we foraged comfrey to make garden fertiliser, we grow so much more food in the garden and we compost, and i'm experimenting with dyeing fabric with kitchen leftovers (avocado stones and black beans, who knew?!). i know i'm so much more capable than i thought i was, and i'm so grateful to both of you for your good humour and your patience when i get it wrong or i need a moment to myself.



i hope you remember some of the tasty moments we had during lockdown, because there were quite a few... ricotta donuts, Easter salmon platter, almond butter cookies (of every single type!), cardamom buns, cowboy dinner.

anyhow, i also made a vlog of our life in lockdown, because there's something about seeing it that's an important part of remembering.



and now the final things to say, because you know mummy loves to talk, and she also likes to explain everything to you and keep you included in the whole picture.

coronavirus is having and will have a huge impact on the world. lives are lost, jobs are lost, businesses will fail, families will fall apart, marriages will break. people will come face-to-face with their real life, without distraction, and they won't like what they see. some will learn to love it, others will change it, and for other people it will be a real source of turmoil. for some people, there will be a lot of uncertainty for some time to come, and that in itself is really scary, for these people we will need to pray for wisdom and for a clear path. 

in all of this we still believe in our God. He is good. He makes all things work together for our good. we were meant to go through trials, we are made to endure difficult things. there are so many verses from the Bible that have carried us through this time, Isaiah 41:10, Romans 5:3-8, Psalm 46:1-3 (below), and so many others... and also so many worship songs that we sing with all of our lungs.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling."

my children, i hope we will all have learnt from this experience that we are so strong together as a family unit. i hope that after this crisis, we go out into the world, see who needs our help and go to their aid. i hope that we know we can always return to this cosy, hygge family home we've made together. what a blessing that is. we praise God for all that we have.