First Day Jitters

Many of us are at different points in our COVID-19 pandemic experience. After almost two months in lockdown, our children returned to school today. Although the temperatures are cooler, we woke to a bright blue and cloudless sky. Barely a breath of breeze jostled the leaves in the tall gums. The usual chorus of birdsong joined us in greeting the day. The only real difference this morning was a louder hum of traffic in the distance as more commuters returned to the office – my partner included.

My brood displayed the whole range of enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for the return to school… My eldest was excited to rejoin her friends and was ready for school without a fuss. My youngest was a little reluctant, however cooperative, and we managed to arrive at school, if a little late. My classic middle child suffered a bad dose of the “first day jitters“ to the point where he became physically ill. I was forced to issue an ultimatum – off to school or bedrest (no devices or distractions) all day. Bedrest has been chosen and I’m hoping that boredom today will create a little more enthusiasm for tomorrow.

It is surprising how much our minds can influence our physical well being. For some it is easier than others to overcome unchecked emotions. It can be both difficult and frustrating, for those who genuinely want to help, to understand someone who struggles with their anxieties.

Some of us ventured out into the world, and our “new normal“ today, let’s hope that with a little understanding and a lot of support that we can all get a little closer to our “old normal“ tomorrow.

How was your return to school and working life? I’d love to hear…

Teamwork

It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new working- and learning-from-home week. As I make our coffee and note the coincidental combination of coffee cups that came from the cupboard this morning, it dawned on me how important and far-reaching the concept of teamwork has become. Our lives, more than ever, are a series of interlinking teams, much like a chain driving a series of mechanisms that need to work together smoothly in order for the machine – for life – to move forward.

In our household, our lives before COVID-19 were much more independent of each other. My partner would leave early each morning to deal with the chaos of traffic enroute to the office, and I would deal with the chaos of getting the children to school and organising the household. Then between after-school activities and my partner arriving home later in the evening, we were all so tired and frazzled that we remained relatively independent of each other through until bedtime.

Now we often enjoy a morning cup of coffee together, and sometimes a snack during the children’s break times. My partner is helping our highschooler with her work, as I supervise our primary school boys. The children also have to be mindful of their father in his office, so as not to disturb his work either.

We have all become members of each other’s teams without even realising it, and we are all working together surprisingly well – the machine is running smoothly and our life is moving forward.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented cooperation, and a deeper level of communication has been the key. I will miss this special team we’ve become when life gets back to “normal“.

A Mothers’ Day Musing

We are all different. Our life experiences are all different. Our life expectations are all different. And so, for mothers, the celebration of their role be different.

I reflect upon my experience, and wonder about yours.

I grew up in a tight knit family where Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day were almost as important as birthdays. We’d creep out into the dewy green garden at dawn – our mother’s own masterpiece – with our father, to pick a few favourite blooms to decorate the breakfast tray. Dad would help with a hot cup of tea or coffee, and we would scrape some untidy blobs of butter and jam across a couple of squares of dry toast. By the time we were ready, the warm drink was barely that and the toast was cold, but I knew our mum would be sat up in her bed eagerly awaiting it, because three smiling faces (shepherded by my dad) delivered it with a bucketload of love.

Over the years, my little family have developed our own way of celebrating Mother’s Day. Some things never change. Their dad supervises a floral masterpiece from the garden, while my eldest coordinates the menu (very similar to the one my brothers and I used to deliver). I sit up in bed eagerly awaiting my three little smiling faces with their grand presentation, just as my mother did.

This year we followed breakfast with something a little different – a wander down to a quiet local beach with enough fishing rods and bait for a couple of hours of quality family time… And do you know what? This was my best one yet!

Whatever your experience or expectation, I’d love to hear about yours.

Brain Drain.

It is late in the day, but this is my first opportunity to take a moment and “muse”.

Shadows are starting to lengthen, and instead of the excited twitter of birds in the morning, the lazy buzz of insects is the backdrop to the relaxed chatter of children playing in the yard, now that the school day is over.

For our family, this is Day One of homeschooling, and although I have not done my obligatory 10,000 steps, I feel quite exhausted!

With a huge demand for online resources, the anticipated structure of our day quickly fell apart as the primary website crashed. We all took a deep breath, and to buy a few moments of planning time we listened to a kids’ news podcast. Thankfully, they were immediately engaged and enjoyed doing the quiz at the end to see who was listening best. I think we might start every day that way – they keep up to date with current events and it stimulates further conversation and investigation, along with some fodder for writing and other projects.

We very loosely followed our regular school day schedule, and there weren’t too many complaints… In fact, my oldest son even exclaimed that “this day went so quickly!”

I quietly breathed a sigh of relief and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back for a job adequately done. I now feel qualified to describe myself as an “Educational Guide“ (most definitely not a “teacher”), and I’m looking forward – just a little more confidently – to our Day Two.

How is this new global experiment of homeschooling shaping up for you?

Float Like a Butterfly

It feels like late morning, but it is not. The air is warm. There is barely a breeze. The sky is blue with only the barest scattering of fast-moving light clouds. My freshly brewed coffee tastes good.

I sit and just gaze. I look at the brilliant green in the garden, beautifully interrupted with a splash of colour here and there. Tiny insects and delicate butterflies hover just above. A perfect time and place to muse…

My mind is floating like the butterflies. The sights and scents of the garden lead it to far away places.

I am reminded of one of my favourite capital cities in the world – Darwin, Australia. A relaxed tropical city where the smell of fresh cut grass and frangipani flowers lift your spirits as you walk along the street.

Then, a brightly coloured bloom takes me back to springtime in Vancouver, Canada. A bustling busy city centre where nature shows up in the most surprising places. Flowers are bursting from every garden bed as the fountains melt from icicles into sunlit sparkling droplets. I remember walking along one of the busiest streets when a mother duck popped out of a fountain followed by a brood of very young clumsy ducklings. They crossed the sidewalk in front of me, then halted morning rush hour for a moment while she lead them to the refuge of a large garden bed across the street. Then just as quickly and without fuss, the cars moved along again… Springtime in downtown Vancouver.

Suddenly, I am brought back to the here and now as my faithful old dog and his younger, wildly enthusiastic offsider drop at my feet demanding attention and a tickle behind the ears.

Coffee finished – back to real life…

My World Is Still Normal

It is still early, and I’ve crept out into the garden to enjoy the cool fresh air and bright friendly sunshine. The chorus of birds this morning is more like a full orchestra – too many different calls to count. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and just like the day, I can feel myself slowly coming to life.

In this moment, my world is normal. It is the first official day of the school Easter break. The children are sleeping in a little, my partner is early in to the office as usual, and I am taking a moment of solitude to gather my thoughts and contemplate the day.

Only this particular day is quite different. I won’t be planning an outing for our first day of leisure. We will be planning an at home activity. We won’t go out for a picnic lunch, but perhaps will enjoy one in our own backyard. My partner won’t come home from the office this evening, the office is now at home.

As I contemplate my day, I am reminded that my world is not normal. No one’s world is “normal“ any more. We are in the midst of a pandemic, like nothing we’ve seen in 100 years. Our new “normal” is a world of restricted movement, limitations, trepidation and uncertainty.

In order to live with our new “normal“, I have just realised the importance of taking this moment to feel the old “normal”. While the sun rises, while the birds herald, while the day is still fresh and new… as it is every single day. While my partner goes to the office, just like any other weekday and the children sleep in a little just because they can. I breathe in deeply and slowly… and for this moment, my world is still normal.

I am so thankful that my partner can work from home, and that I have a garden to share with the children.

How are you managing your new “normal“?