Family in Lockdown
It goes without saying that when a family of four are locked in a house together for weeks on end it can create a fairly fraught atmosphere. There are obvious downsides to four humans over the age of twelve being in such close proximity to each other, especially for adults who aren’t used to being home very often anyway, and especially not with their kids there ALL THE TIME.
We’re doing okay for the most part… aside from the occasional screaming match… and have enjoyed many new experiences, from our musical lip sync battles, family lounge room workouts, backyard camping, Tik Toks (yes, we succumbed) and driving to the nearby beach to sit in the car and look out over the waves for five hours, whilst blasting Radiohead and Nirvana. That last one was just me on my own. I needed it. I’ve always been someone who needs her space. And my husband and I are… well, we’re honest with each other, which is a double-edged sword. Space has always been a sacred and essential part of our marriage. Although we collaborate quite a bit, we also have our own personal and professional endeavours as individuals, and that’s worked well over the past twenty years. My hubby has done a bunch of musicals, and it’s difficult when he goes away on tour. Well, it’s difficult the day he goes away, but after I kiss him, wave goodbye and close the door… fist pump! This house is mine! Then I laugh maniacally, pour a glass of red, sit in his favourite spot on the couch and watch another documentary on serial killers or the royal family without him rolling his eyes.
Beyond family, friends are – and always have been – way up on my priority list. I’m blessed to have many special, long-term friendships, and I’ve always been good at keeping in touch, checking in and seeing them on a regular basis. COVID-19 has brought about an even more intense and wonderful sense of connectedness. We are checking in on each other on a regular basis now; being there for each other. We’re dropping groceries off to each other’s doorsteps, sharing links to anything we find enlightening or funny, and sending each other the most ridiculous videos of ourselves doing whatever. (See earlier referral to musical lip sync battles) It’s quite something. But I still miss the hugs.
New connections are being made too. My husband and I have a book coming out soon and I’ve been sending out so many advance copies that the woman at the post office and I are now on a first name basis. We’ve gotten to know our octogenarian neighbours so much better too and I love nothing more than receiving a text from eighty-something Olga asking if we’d like anything from their garden, which could comfortably supply a large-scale farmer’s market.
Lists have been my saviour over the past few weeks. I am a list-maker and list-lover from way back. Even in those pre-COVID days of old, lists were my constant companion. They’ve comforted me from the inside of my diary, the whiteboard, the kitchen noticeboard, the post-it note on the front of my computer and the A4 page Blu-Tacked to the wall.
My husband discovered early on in our relationship just how integral the list is to my overall well-being and sense of contentment, and has teased me about it for years. We had a few things to get done yesterday, so I asked him if he’d like me to write him a list (I do this often) and he said, “Only if you don’t love me.” I left the list on his laptop. Both my daughters are growing into keen list-makers. My eldest has definitely inherited the list-obsessive gene and the obvious joy it gives her to rush for pen and paper to jot down a list has often brought a proud tear to my eye. In this time of feeling like we have no control, it’s the only thing that keeps me feeling sane and organised, so there are more than a few lists up on our walls at the moment. There’s an Isolation Activities list, a Remote Learning Rules list, a Projects list (left over from the school holidays) and the daily to do list, which includes things like “go outside” and “get dressed”.
Sometimes the lists are followed to a T, but a lot of the time they’re not. And that’s fine. Because really, if we can all just get through the day without collapsing into a quivering ball of anxiety, that’s a win.
My husband and I have both worked in the arts for a long time. We’ve made a living from it for well over twenty years. Life for us has very little set routine, and financial stability is something we laugh about over dinner, but this is a whole new level of instability and uncertainty. For everyone. But for now, it’s about the Tik Toks, the food, the music, the reading, the jigsaws, the hugs (being lucky enough to be in isolation with other humans) and the kindness.
Above all, the kindness.
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