These Covid daze mood swings feel very familiar to Lizzie Gore-Grimes...
The endless eating, the elasticated clothing, the not leaving the house for much more than a 2km walk, it’s all too familiar. It’s maternity leave all over again. Swinging between emotionally charged high to apathetic low at the relentless repetitiveness of it all – and everything a sodden mess of gratitude and guilt. I feel so lucky… I feel so stuck. And so the pendulum swings.
My sons shuffle into the kitchen in their matching towelling robes, heads together talking, looking like the Kray twins, only less well-dressed.
This time around the infants have grown though – graduated from talking to TikTok’ing and mewling to nuclear teenage stropping (and that’s just the eight year old). But I’m feeling that strange raw ache again: the vulnerability I felt when I looked down at a tiny breastfeeding head is back.
My sons shuffle into the kitchen in their matching towelling robes, heads together talking, looking like the Kray twins, only less well-dressed. A charge of mischief between them; they’re like overgrown puppies, never more than few inches apart when in each other’s company. I look at them and wish I could stop time – at 13 and 11 respectively, they seem to meet in the middle at a young 12 when together – just at that sweet spot at the tail end of childhood, still tactile, not yet taciturn.
At eight she’s all cartwheels and glitter sticks but where they are malleable she is utterly immoveable.
Their baby sister on the other hand could eat them for breakfast. A tiny tigress to their Labrador. At eight she’s all cartwheels and glitter sticks but where they are malleable she is utterly immoveable. I bend to her will far more than I should – we all do. Our little Infanta.
I laughed yesterday as I watched the three of them play a game in the garden with a rugby ball; it was called Queen Cupcake, so you can guess who made up the rules for that one. And just when I think my chest might burst, one of them side-swipes their sister with the robe belt and she lets out a shriek that would shatter glass. Everyone’s yelling and flailing and it’s the vein in my temple that’s going to burst now.
I’m feeling strangely institutionalised and more than a bit intimidated by the thought of going ‘back to normal’
So what am I learning during this marvellous period of global pause and family togetherness? Have I managed to Marie Kondo my mood and develop my inner Dr Spock? (Parenting Spock that is, not inter-planetary). Certainly not. Instagram keeps telling me that in this rush to get back to normal, to think about which parts of normal I want to get back to. Hmm, not really sure if I’m honest.
I’m feeling strangely institutionalised and more than a bit intimidated by the thought of going ‘back to normal’; maybe because I now don’t have a clear picture of what that is or what I want. I’m quite comfortable here in my elasticated pants, with my fuzzy hair.
There’s a line that I read in a book the other day that’s stuck with me. The book, Dear Edward By Brooklyn-based writer Ann Napolitano, tells the story of a 12-year-old boy, the sole survivor of a plane crash, trying to find his place in the world. A tarot card reader tells him to “Take stock of who you are, and what you have, and then use it for good.” He dismisses the advice as overly generic, “You could say that to anyone,” he complains. But isn’t that the point? It applies to us all.
So while I have no idea what I want, I know exactly what I need.
Nothing more that the people in my life that I already have.
Featured image (aptly blurry) taken by Lizzie Gore-Grimes during the new baby haze of early 2012.
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