It’s generally my approach to try to give whatever I write a bit of an optimistic spin. And I’ve spent the best part of the last 18 months developing my growth mindset- not just chucking on the rose tinted glasses but instead truly looking for the gift in each challenge. But as I’m sitting here in the dark, in my bed at 1.30 in the afternoon eating an eclair- I sense that this is not going to be the jolliest of entries.
Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been working my butt off to be positive and look at the bright side of everything that has been going on lately. But today, I must say, I’m just seriously not feeling it.
As much as I recognise the super importance of everyone staying at home in this crazy Covid world we’re living in, and as much as I am doing everything I can to adhere to those guidelines, I think it is fair to say that self-isolation is by a large a pile of shit. And I hate it.
I double hate it being 8 months pregnant.
I triple hate it with my total inability to coerce my already-here children to pack up the crap they get out to play with each day.
I’ve been subconsciously playing my typical strategy where I simply push on through and ignore what has been troubling me. I was even hoping to write a shiny article detailing all the unexpected treasures that being at home has presented (and there have been a few!). But damn, have these last few days knocked the shit out of that. And today? Well, there’s something I didn’t even want to face after a night of broken sleep.
So, in full awareness of the fact that there may be a dear reader out there hitting up against the same steaming pile, I thought I would set the scene on a few points as to why iso can jump up its own arse and die.
- Waiting for a baby at home, alone (for months) completely blows– Anyone who has been here knows all too well how that last chunk of pregnancy just generally stretches out seemingly for ever. Well that fact has been significantly multiplied through the magic of needing to be at home for ALL OF IT. I was 29 weeks gone when this whole fiasco seemed to launch and there is still 5 weeks to go now. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I had plans for this time. Plans to go for some solo walks, to go swimming, get to Pilates each week, to meditate on the beach as I had done with my previous two babies, to get to the shops for the last few things, to have coffee with my mum friends and to just generally keep busy and savour that which (all going well) will be my last run at this pregnancy caper. Not to mention enjoying the time before sleep deprivation and ongoing nappy changes that newborn-life is sure to bring. It may not have been any huge multi-country adventure, but I was going to have a full calendar. Now of course, I preface the following by saying I realise complaining doesn’t fix anything, and of course we’re all struggling with something big or small at this time in history. But honestly, as much as I have been trying to deny this to myself, I feel totally robbed of what I had lined up for a time in life that frankly, I’m not going to get back or see again. I’ve been trying to picture myself in 50 years, having lived through all this, telling my grandchildren about how odd it was to be having a baby at the time of a pandemic. Thinking about it as if it could be reduced to a historical drama of sorts at a later date. Detaching myself from how awful it actually feels inside me as a cyclical emotion at this moment. But I’m too tired to fight that battle today and it’s all just horse shit.
- Planning a birth in iso is stressful AF… Point one neatly brings me to angsty point two. Here I’ve actually been super lucky considering the circumstances. Lucky that I was well versed, educated and experienced in birth, that I’ve had largely positive births, that I’ve attended so many births now and that I already had a birth plan somewhat formed in my mind. Lucky as well that I had a man in my house who was open to my needs and my desire to switch to a homebirth despite the fact that it meant more work and financial strain for him. But holy macaroni, I feel totally overwhelmed by the fact that for most women- this is just not the case. At all. Any of it. We’ve got antenatal appointments and support people dropping all over the place, overwhelmed health professionals and a system which already fails to educate and support expecting and new mums effectively struggling with just that much as well. I’m seriously just trying not to look. But I have (what now seems) foolishly made birth and birth work such an integral part of my life and my social media feed that it’s pretty tricky to get away from. Not to mention I just feel like I want to help these women! Not least of which because both they and I don’t really know for sure that what we are hoping for in birth will be possible, even with our best laid plans and adaption during this batshit crazy time. Do I want to go down the path in my mind of whether or not we’ll successfully avoid the virus and my midwives will really be allowed to attend my birth? Not at all. But it is hard not to think about.
- Just waiting on my Mother of the Year Award- You’d better believe I’ve given my kids ample screen time, too few stimulating activities, sup-par meals and left them largely to their own devices during the day. And no I don’t want to play. I want to sit down in silence. Given that today I am stretched thin enough to write a pissy blog entry, you can also assume that I have snapped multiple times at my poor little people, who frankly are only being difficult because they’re so tapped in to how shit I’m feeling. Naturally coupled with their own frustration of no kinder, no friends, no grandparents and no sense of routine or normality in sight. My two year old has been toilet trained for 3 months but she’s chucked that in given we never go anywhere or do anything and my four year old has taught herself how to use the TV remote. Fucking rad. And if you think the fact that I’m 100 years pregnant and can barely hold my own head up at the moment assuages my guilt or makes me feel justified in this predicament- you can guess again my friend. I’m just waiting on that award now, I think today will definitely get me over the line. I just hope it comes with chocolate.
- The housework is never-ending and almost always too close to the floor- No, but seriously, I would like to request a small bulldozer or street sweeper to collect all the shit on my living room floor. It. Is. Everywhere. My children get things out and leave them places, my husband ‘cleans up’ by moving items from one room to another and if anything is below knee height, I can’t reach it. I pick up a grand total of 10 toys a day as each time I bend down, my BP drops and I get the super fun puffy-breaths that signal my pulse is trying to keep me from passing out. Every morning is a battle of wills with my oldest child to get her to in any way help me with the mess she and her sister have distributed as well. Games no longer work, bribery no longer works, reward systems and even chucking stuff out no longer works. We’ve been home too long and she just does not care about this stuff anymore. She just wants to watch Play School and relax. Who could blame her really? There are also roughly five baskets of clean laundry around my house and two of dirty in my laundry and I am once again pretending they do not exist. I’ve never seen the dishes pile up so quickly each day. Basically they are my Everest at this point. Also I think it’s fair to say there are not enough computers in the world for the amount of cables and shit piled in boxes throughout the dining room. And like, maybe none of this even really matters except that I’ve had it in my head that I’d really love to feel comfortable at home right now. And more importantly, I just really feel like the condition of the house is a reflection of both my psyche and my limited dedication to any given task too. I look around and the shit storm is like a photograph of the inside of my head.
- I have so many unused craft supplies- Oh yes my friends, I had big plans for this time of social isolation. I was writing a program of activities, learning opportunities, engagement with literature and arts and craft. I was going to go back to being the excellent teacher I have been for children who were not my own for the last 10 years. I was ready. And yeah, so, none of that fucking happened. And I need to just go and get some fun stuff out of the cupboard and assume the risk that the house will inevitably become more trashed than it already is. Otherwise it’s just wasting glitter.
- I’m about to go nuclear on the kids next door- A minor point really, but as I have moved outside to write this and as they are usually at school at this time each day, and as they appear to have two settings- 1. Obnoxiously heckling me and my kids and 2. Obnoxiously heckling each other at a jillion decibels- I’m really not in the mood to filter my reactions at this point.
- It’s lonely and miserable- When it comes down to it, I think the worst thing about iso is how it is by definition quite isolating. Yes I’ve taught online courses and my life is full of video calls, Facebook messenger and text messages to friends and family. I’ve been doing my best to fill the void. But I miss my mates. I miss my Mum. I miss being able to take my kids to see their grandparents or their Aunty and to give them (and me) the gift of that interaction. I miss kinder drop-off (who knew?). I bloody miss mother’s group and the ability to just pop down the street whenever I like. I miss one-on-one in-person support time with clients. I miss taking maccas to a friend’s place when she’s having a hard time. I miss being over-talkative with new people at Pilates class. And frankly, I miss not having to over-compensate for the void all of this has left. It is just exhausting. For now, what I’m mostly gaining is insight into how extroverted I actually am (here I was thinking I was an introvert just because I’m socially awkward- what a joke). As much as I adore my children- I have also become one of those wives who is dragging her whole self by her fingernails to the hour when her husband walks in the front door. Believe it or not, I didn’t used to be. Being in the same room as another adult is just golden right now.
It will be truly wonderful when we can all be together again, whenever that might be. I am acutely aware of that fact. And tomorrow may be better. Actually- it more than likely will be much better. Some days in iso are fine, no big deal, good even… and others are the friggin worst. Today is just one of those. I don’t have some uplifting note to end on. But if you’re stuck at home like me and it suuuuuucks, just know that I feel you. And I wish you all the self-cleaning houses and chocolate in the world.