The Lockdown Diaries
Like most people, I currently spend a big part of each day trawling for upsides to the groundhog day merry-go-round we are all trapped on. I'm constantly searching for any little thing to latch onto that will buoy the spirit. A good TV show to look forward to in the evening is great - we're rewatching Six Feet Under in its entirety and it seriously holds up. The only aspect of it that I'm not enjoying is discovering that, while when it first aired I related to the character of Claire, the rebellious, spunky teen, I am now heavily identifying with the downtrodden, middle aged mother, Ruth Fisher. Oh dear.
Meals are of course essential in the landscape of the day's little pleasures and I am simply refusing to countenance a bad meal during lockdown. Lately, I've instated a two-breakfast policy that I highly recommend - a main breakfast and a dessert breakfast - so that's getting me to about 9am. After that, it's only seven hours 'til I can put my kids in front of a movie and bask in the momentary reprieve that offers.
I know people are growing weary of parents banging on about how hard lockdown life with kids is but dammit this column is the only outlet I have, aside from my daily screaming session in the shower, of course.
The worst thing is parents can't even complain to their fellow parents anymore because there is a subtle game of simmering one-upmanship going on in the parental ranks. Take, for example, my friends with two kids who are constantly rolling their eyes at the one kid people.
"The one kid mums need to shut up with the complaining," advised one mother-of-two in our WhatsApp group. "They have it easy."
Meanwhile in another thread, my friends with single kids are saying how those of us with multiples are "so lucky".
"They entertain each other, sure," according to the one-kid mums.
Uh huh. If by "entertain" you mean "beat the crap out of/spit at/bite" then yes, yes they do entertain each other, I long to respond.
Then there's parents with school-age kids, we're having a whale of a time homeschooling and spitting venom at parents of younger kids.
I'm lucky because these days not many people have more kids than I do and one of mine is in school, so I'm spending a lot of lockdown smugly accepting awed expressions of admiration of the "I don't know how you're doing it" variety. This is providing another little pandemic pleasure for me. Occasionally, a woman with four kids or more might stray near and some of that awe might be redirected toward her. That's when I play the newborn card to wrench it back - no one may have it worse in terms of parental pandemic hardship, my pandemic-addled mind rails.
Another aspect of pandemic life that I'm gleaning some minor joy from is the remote socialising. I've marvelled at how lockdown life finds a way. A few weeks ago, before anywhere beyond the 2km radius was out of bounds, I was enjoying regular car dates with friends around the city. The McDonald's Drive-Thru at East Wall was getting a lot of our custom as we sat in our respective cars slurping McFlurrys and yelling across at each other. Now everyone has decamped to Zoom and while I was reluctant at first, I've finally managed to identify an upside to the slightly odd and stilted Zoom meet-ups.
Pre-covid, we'd become a nation of huggers and kissers and, as such, it had started to take forever just to arrive or leave anywhere. Every single person had to be cuddled on arrival, even, say, "Ciara's friend Siobhán from kickboxing" who you'd never laid eyes on before. Or maybe you mightn't full-on hug Siobhán but you'd certainly have some kind of awkward "will we won't we" moment. Zoom has mercifully removed this pesky hugging scenario. And it's unlikely we'll be going back to it post-pandemic either. Hoorah. Equally, for decades leaving any Irish gathering has been extremely difficult. Thwarting an exit is practically a national sport so it has come as an unexpected boon that now I can just hit "leave meeting" and I am free. I've even experimented with flouncing out of a Zoom - long story, it was a dispute over the use of props in a game of charades - and can confirm that slamming the laptop closed is pretty satisfying, nearly as good as a good healthy door slam.
In even more upsides, my mother and I are enjoying a daily coffee through my front window which I've decided is actually preferable to our usual mode of in-person interaction. Her poor eyesight on top of the contrast in lighting between my front living room and the bright sunlight outside means she can't quite make out my appearance to criticise it. It's the little things.