We all have a part to play in the collective fight against coronavirus. And while we try to focus on the positivity, this new normal is really pretty hard, writes Amanda Cassidy
We are now beyond the banana bread and the colouring competitions.
The children, barefoot with loose plaits, follow the daily routine of a little schoolwork, obstacle courses, and chores, but you can see the descent into that blurred-days existence we associate with our own childhood summers.
At 5, 8 and 9 years of age, they understand that this reprieve from formal schooling is on account of "Coronavirus 19" as they call it. It doesn't phase them. Their little minds unable to see beyond the next snack or episode of Teen Titans or video-call with granddad. In short, they are happy to be unscheduled, wild... with mummy and daddy constantly around.
They perfect their cartwheels while we focus on completing work, ignoring the financial niggles, happy to have any work at all.
Our clock reads 3 and feels like 5. At 6 we hear another 20 people died.
Low hum of worry
I watch them in the garden from the desk I've set up on the kitchen table. I work and glance. I type and check. Interrupted only by the drama of one of them feeling left out, mild injuries, a quick hug as they grab a drink, only half-listening because my mind is on the news.
But the work-life balance isn't the only problem. The problem is the worry about what comes next. We are three weeks into this suspension of our lives. A pause button crudely pressed on the world which then robbed thousands of lives and livelihoods.
I watch as my children twirl and fall down dizzy and I feel exactly the same.
Ten minutes up the road at the hospital, there are those struggling to catch their breath. To breathe at all. Our clock reads 3 and feels like 5. At 6 we hear another 20 people died.
With gallows humour, we flock to phone friends for light relief. We know that each of us will have up days and down but that phrase rings in our ears; "This is the calm before the storm". An ominous, unchartered phrase that reminds us of our collective responsibility to brace ourselves.
We clap and cry and Zoom and walk
Helpless, we focus instead on things we can control. The food shopping, untangling the knots in the children's hair, trying not to unravel ourselves in this artificial version of our old lives.
And we feel pride. Buckets of pride. Pride in how we, as a nation, are reacting to this. We clap and cry and Zoom and walk. Perhaps we can walk all of the worries away?
So far, our own family elderlies are wrapped up tightly in their cocoon — sustained with video calls and rainbow cards and groceries left on the doorstep.
If this is our war, the healthcare heroes are our soldiers. My task is to simply stay at home, cocooning my own children from the unpredictability of these times. Staying safe, staying sane.
A work deadline looms. A grazed knee calamity. Time to cook again. But the mundane is now welcome because the alternative means that someone isn't well.
Each day the children write a list of things they've accomplished in a day. A way of taking each day at a time, not thinking beyond what happens next. Completed maths sheet, drew a bird, hoovered, found a pine cone, took a bath. A simple measure of our days.
Later when they are asleep, the adults try to decompress, regroup, reset ourselves for another day of suppressed worry about work and health and a parent's cancer treatment. Mentally, I do my own list; We are safe. They are safe. Nothing else matters. Repeat.
We murmur sadly over the news and quickly change the subject. Buoying each other up is part of our pact. There is an elephant in the room. And it stinks.
We are safe. They are safe. Nothing else matters. Repeat.
Image via Unsplash.com
Read more: Coronavirus: It is time to do our civic duty