I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and I came across one of my favourite humans, Carly Rowena. She posted a photo with a caption that mentioned we are in the middle of history. We are experiencing a pandemic. Right now.
A blogger by the name of Abbey Deerest has created a series called “Quarantine Diaries” on her blog and it has inspired me to do the same.
Everyone living this Coronavirus/COVID-19 reality is in the middle of creating history.
Two weeks ago, I was at work when our Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, announced that we were moving to a “level four” in 48 hours. In New Zealand, a “level four” meant the whole country – excluding essential services – was going to shut down for four weeks. At least. I work with a group of lawyers specialising in criminal defence law so it takes a lot to shake us. But shake us, it did. Instantaneously, we had people calling, daycare centres emailing, and messages from our friends and family flooding our feeds.
What was going to happen? What does this mean for us? Were we going to run out of toilet paper?
New Zealand is close to completing two weeks of a four-week lockdown. Our country has come to a grinding halt with the only businesses permitted to operate are those deemed as “essential services” by the government.
I’m a week behind but better late than never, right? After all, I want to remember my version of events as they unfolded for me (and my family).
I am one of the lucky ones. I work for an essential service but I have been given leave for the entire lockdown so I don’t have to be separated from my son. We’re in lockdown with my family at the beach. The first week felt like a weird dream. No one was entirely sure of the rules and what ‘your neighbourhood’ meant for those in the weird in-between land, like me, who aren’t in an immediate town.
We spent the first two nights sleeping on the couch in my family’s house as a room wasn’t ready for us. It was…cozy. We pushed the two couches together to make a bed and fell asleep watching movies. Anyone with a toddler would know this set up means random karate chops, gut punches, and waking up with feet or a smelly diaper in your face. #mumlife
After our glamorous couch stay, a room was organised so we could officially “move in”. This was a blessing in disguise as the tension was starting to build up on both sides. I was stressed (and tired) from not having a space to call my own and I’m sure my family was sick of having their living room looking like a tornado had hit it (Thanks, Mr Three). I’m still waking up to feet in my face but at least I have a room of my own now.
As mentioned, I’m staying with my family at the beach. My parents manage a campground three hours away from Auckland. Their campground is reasonably large so my son has a huge “backyard” to run around in, a beach to explore, and a playground complete with slides and a jumping pillow (once they’re allowed again). I look at my son playing games with his uncle, dancing with his aunt, and cuddling the dog. He is – undoubtedly – living the dream.
For myself, I have been trying to find my “new normal” in this chaos. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen me getting up at 5:00am and lighting a candle. Before the lockdown, I would get a cup of coffee, light a candle, and read a book before work; this is something I have tried to continue during the lockdown, with the odd substitution of The Sims 4 instead of a book. Sometimes I get an hour of free time, sometimes I get two hours to myself before I put on my parenting hat for the day.
From 7:00am I am trying to keep my son entertained by playing cars and trains, soccer, dancing, and reading. The days are hit and miss. Sometimes they’ll flow with a structure similar to daycare days and others have been a complete mess of fast lunches in front of television complete with an afternoon of more television or “learning games” that have been downloaded on my phone.
On those days, I give myself some grace. I have spent the first week finding my feet being a daughter, sister, parent, and friend – all under the same roof. There have been many, many hard conversations, tension, and sharp words but there has also been laughter, play, and sweet moments. The harsh reality is that I’m not used to being a full-time parent and the transition from full-time work and parenting to just parenting has been hard. So hard.
It has also been beautiful, funny, crazy, and an opportunity to learn how to be more patient, loving, and caring.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I’m one of the lucky ones.
I have my health, my family, and a safe place to stay during the lockdown. And I will never, ever take any of that for granted.
Stay safe everyone.