Lockdown and foreboding joy
Disclaimer – I stopped myself writing this post more than once over the last few weeks for two reasons – fear of what others might think and feel and fear of jinxing what we have.
Some of my friends have been severely ill for weeks, some of my friends have lost their parents, some their friends, some their jobs. Not to mention the frontline workers risking their lives for us. The global impact on millions, the unfathomable death toll and pain endured across the world. And yet, here we are in our beautiful garden having an incredible experience…
I relate my experience of lockdown to the concept of ‘foreboding joy’ that Brene Brown talks about. That feeling where you stare at your kid/dog/lover asleep in bed and you feel so overwhelmed with love for them that you could burst and then the next thought is “oh shit, what if something bad happens to them?” Sound familiar?! So I realised I felt like that about lockdown, and bizarrely, now that it is coming to an end I feel the foreboding coming in… (I couldn’t say it all in a FB post so it became a blog).
At the beginning of the pandemic my brother, who lives in Northern Italy, shared an article called ‘The conversation we should have with our loved ones.’ After reading it I wrote a letter to my parents and siblings saying all that I needed to in case I died. I told them how much I loved them, shared some of my happiest memories with them, told them how I would want them to celebrate my life, what I would want to have happen to the kids (almost 2 yrs old and 3 months old) , my ashes and what my biggest concerns were for Stuart, Remmy and Ayla once I had left this realm and how I wanted them to support them.
My brother sharing this article with us was initially to prompt my parents to take COVID-19 seriously due to the nature of their work, they had extremely high levels of contact with the public. Back then the UK was not yet implementing any measures and in Italy and Spain we were seeing the enormity of the virus’s impact before things started to unfold in the UK.
I am unsure whether or not my letter had the desired impact on my parents, as there were so many other factors at play. However, regardless of its initial intent, what writing this letter did for me was much so much more than get me to take the virus seriously, it spurred me to take LIFE SERIOUSLY.
I really reflected on how it might be to leave this world now and during lockdown both Stuart and I have made changes to our ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ that have made us infinitely happier. Aside from a couple of freakouts I had in the first few weeks, and my slight anxiety about things opening up now… lockdown has been an incredibly joyful, happy and enriching time for our household.
I have been solely focused on one day at a time. Let me be blunt and honest, I have been solely focused on sunrise to siesta time and then from post siesta wake up time until bedtime. This has been a glorious way to live because every moment counts and I am deeply present.
The time with the kids has been and continues to be incredible, if Remmy would have been in nursery we would have missed out on so much of this magical time in his life. He just started to put two words together at the start of lockdown and now he is chatting away.
Getting them both to sleep at the same time for a siesta most days has meant I get at least an hour to myself which as any parent knows is golden.
I have become infinitely more acquainted with our garden noticing each day a new rose blooming or dying, blossoms on the trees, exactly where the sun rises, being able to sense when rain is coming, sitting with Remmy and watching the squirrels pull apart the pine cones and ants carry away dandelion fluff.
I have been able to be fully present to Ayla’s first smiles and first giggles. Stuart makes bread every day from his own ‘starter’, Stuart and Remmy have planted seeds, Stuart has even started a new company. I have completed a daily 8 week exercise programme and I am on to another one now. I have started writing the book on motherhood I dreamt up just over a year ago.
I have been part of a powerful and enriching 8 week Motherhood coaching circle with Nikki Armytage-Foy and Rachel Rowland through Electric Woman. I have returned to daily meditation. I turn my phone off on a Saturday night and don’t turn it back on again until Monday morning. My Mum is illustrating story books for Rems based on the stories I make up to keep him entertained while I am breastfeeding Ayla, we have printed one already and we are almost finished with the second.
I feel like I have finally found my voice as a writer and I am experiencing flow. Stuart and I have been working with a parenting coach Denise Suarez to help us set goals as a family and to think through how we want to educate Remmy on some of the important things in life such as how to treat other human beings and what we would like him to understand about important issues such as gender, race, religion, food, money etc.
Stuart and I have a ‘relationship check in’ every Friday where we talk about what we appreciate about one another where we can state ‘requests for change’ – anything from packing the dishwasher properly to speaking more kindly to one another. We set weekly goals connected to our short term and long term goals and every Friday update each other on where we are at with them and what support we need from each other moving forward. My weekly goals started pretty simple – wax my legs (while being a life coach I also had a 3 wk old baby and a toddler to take care of and a lot of leg hair…) and have been getting more ambitious – write two chapters of my book.
And now lockdown is lifting I already feel an uncomfortable shift… that foreboding. I have decided to welcome it, not resist it, not push it away, just acknowledge that I am feeling it and trusting myself to do what feels right. I will speak what feels true to me with Stuart and together we will decide how we create our new reality that still holds the essence of all that we learned during lockdown.
We have been beyond lucky these last few weeks and literally have had everything we needed right here on our doorstep. And now, with things changing and opening up I know that our bubble is bursting and it is time to change to the ‘new normal’ that everyone is speaking of. I am grateful to lockdown for the immense clarity it has given me, the opportunity for me to get still, to really deepen my relationships with my family and dear friends, to connect with my creativity and find my voice. Here is to the next chapter…