Back to life, back to reality
Will family life get back to normal this autumn? A Wimbledon mum recalls the strains of the past year but wonders if she really wants her old life back.
As we pack the car for our UK summer holiday, I'm glad to be getting away from the four walls we seem to have been encased within for what feels like an interminable time. Hastily booked, and in some desperation (as our original destination turned from optimistic amber to no-go red) I didn't really care where we went, just as long as it wasn't home.
What an 18 months it has been. Who'd have thought we'd still be navigating life with a virus we hadn't even heard of not so very long ago. Can we even remember life before it? Young children won't, that's for sure. The hideous lows of the dreadful death rates and rocketing cases were followed by the hope during the summer of 2020 that life would soon return to normal and we'd continue our lives as before. But then autumn struck, Christmas was cancelled and children were back at home with stressed parents delivering home schooling. No need to worry, we thought, Easter can be the new Christmas - and we all know what happened there.
We got the kids back to school in March with much excitement and anticipation but we hadn't braced ourselves for what the following months would look like. More bubbles, no school trips, no concerts, mask wearing, still no hugging granny, no parents t sports day and, most surprisingly, parents twitchy about the much-needed end of year drinks. And we had a new thing to fear - isolations! Yes, that sick feeling when you see the school number appear on your phone, which in our case was initially 'just' a case of hand sanitiser in the eye. Annoyingly though, the call did come a few weeks later telling us that our son had to isolate, and so he missed his final fun days of the school year. We have been very fortunate on the isolation front.
For many though, the pandemic brought many unexpected highlights, be it buying a puppy, baking cakes for neighbours, discovering gardening or leaving loo roll on doorsteps. For us, it was the value of community and how important it is to be kind when times are tough - especially when your Christmas present is a positive Covid result. Our children learned how very special our NHS is as they bashed their pots and pans every Thursday evening and understood how grateful we should feel to have it.
So, as we near out destination, I challenge my family to each think of something positive which the pandemic has brought to our lives. Our 8 year old son goes first and says he's improved his keyboard skills. Hmmm, that would be thanks to the Roblox then. The 10 year old ponders a while and says she got to spend more time with the cat. Surely she means the family? Meanwhile, my other half says he's reduced spend at the barbers and rediscovered his curls, so a double win for him. Mine is that the pace of life has slowed down - no running around taking the kids to clubs, parties or sports whilst juggling work, commuting, shopping, cooking and housework.
I ask them, do we really want our old lives back exactly as they were? As the rain hits the car window, I have a feeling that the static caravan in Skegness may help us decide.