Most people I know have dealt with the fallout of the pandemic to the best of their ability. Some have been lucky to not contract the virus at all or recover quickly if they have and thankfully not too many have faced any irreplaceable losses. But we’ve ALL been touched by the effects of it fairly deeply in our psyche.
My erstwhile largely happy and manageable child gets down in the dumps at the slightest hint of any change. It might not even be a significant event but just the prospect of having to do without something gets him reacting like never before.
The concept of delayed gratification whether it’s being able to step outside the house, socialise, go to the grocery store, run an errand at the mall, attend in-person school, travel on a whim or not be able to play because it’s raining outside; leads to so much mental preparation needed to adjust and adapt these days just to weather the disappointment of yet another compromise being made.
When I think of how this phase has impacted me, I can honestly say I’ve become more withdrawn. Ask Red and he mayn’t agree since he thinks I’m still the loudest person in the house but given an option I’d rather not do anything but just read a book and possibly stay bundled up somewhere cozy. Call it a start of a myopic personality trait or just a reaction to the times we live it.
I do my daily calls to the bestie, often twice a day- no mean feat given that we factor in time differences of 12+ hours and the interruptions that come in when you have kids hovering around. I speak to both my folks often, separately, their schedules and the frequency of our need to communicate with each other being dictated by daily occurrences as well as things happening in the family.
However, till the end of last year I was all about embracing being around people, having someone to hang out with, talk, have a meal with or just interface with; for the most part of 2021, I’ve been craving the quiet.
I haven’t become unsocial per se but a strong thread of being asocial has come in. It may be a coping mechanism or even a sign of something a bit more worrying but am not looking at it under a microscope because despite everything I’m feeling, I haven’t become dysfunctional due to these new tendencies. I do find myself leaning more towards solitary activities and wanting to linger there more than ever before though.
Lest this become a solely whinge-post let me say this: I have a lot to be grateful for. Coming from a country that has well over a billion people, I still got my opportunity to be vaccinated relatively quickly once the vaccines were available on the market. The people closest to me are as safe as I can hope they are from the disease and otherwise of fairly good health given their ages. We as a family are still able to make and utilise many opportunities to laugh, enjoy ourselves in each other’s company and not constantly have to worry about tomorrow.
The biggest change that’s crept in is that I’m unable to plan. And I used to plan things out to the hilt! Not necessarily down to every single brass tack, but planning and the anticipation of something coming about was part of the high.
When I was in college, the university or living away from my folks; going home used to be a cause for a celebration. I’d have my bags packed a month in advance. Any trip that we planned on as a family (Red&I) would have me looking forward to the minute we’d lock the door and step out; weeks in advance! The last international trip I took had an epic amount of planning and preparing going into it and that’s always been part of the overall experience for me in the past. Not so much now.
And while I do miss that overly-enthusiastic part of me who used to want to and couldn’t help but plan for things; it’s been a very solid learning to focus on the here and now and leave the future to unfold as it may happen.
I still can’t entirely let go of the tendency to plan to be honest. For instance, a part of me wants to bookmark this post and look back at it a year from now to see how things are. They may not be much better, it could even be worse than before; but for now the unfailing warmth and comfort from a cup of coffee+a few pages of a British mystery will have to suffice. 2022 will be upon us soon enough.
While a lockdown hits hard at every aspect of our lives, today am far more upbeat than I have been in a long time! The reason is simple. My kid’s online classes are coming to an end for 2 months. And Red and I will finally get back to being human parents rather than the human-sheepdog hybrid we’ve been since the start of the entire phase of online learning.
In all honesty it was me who was woofing more than Red. He was busy on calls and would be on perpetual red alert to firefight when mother and son had their standoffs.
Our days would start out nicely enough- hugs and kisses and then the tide would turn to a small human being dragged out of bed on some days and on other days his rapidly-descending-into madness mommy would threaten to pour water on him or worse- discontinue the Netflix subscription!!
And then my erstwhile cherub and the sound of my life would transform into a modern day Gollum, complete with the hissing and glazed eyes while thinking of his precious.
But all snark aside, I have realised, all over again, that it is NOT easy to manage kids. Whether you do it out of love or get remunerated for it. I have a deep reverence for the teachers who have been tasked with teaching during these times. Dealing with different personalities, comprehension levels et al on a regular basis is a task by itself but add sullen faces, innate shyness, wonky internet connections and the sounds of a busy household in the background and teaching becomes something akin to an obstacle course. And landing on your feet isn’t guaranteed at all!
But I am looking forward to more peace. My throat is *eagerly* looking forward to not hitting the high decibels. Red’s ears are extremely eagerly awaiting the time when noise-cancelling headphones won’t be a part of our daily diet. And I guess TO is just waiting for a time when his mother isn’t giving him this look a 100xs a day.
Be as that may, I love my kid and I wanted to celebrate the last day of school in a manner befitting his happiness. So his favourite aunty is making him luscious chocolate cupcakes which will be snarfed down in a manner befitting a starving child rather than a well-fed one. And while I gaze upon the flesh of my flesh with love and adoration in my eyes, I will take immense joy in knowing the cupcakes are chock full of zucchini!
Take that you fussy eater who tries to convince me of all people that he has food allergies which is why fruits, nuts and many veggies can’t land up on his plate.
Red and I got married 14 years ago and he was living in a pretty compact apartment in the city, close to where he used to work back in the day. It was a rental, we had very little furniture and tried to make it a cozy space with some brightly coloured cushions, sheets and a few paintings on the wall. But for the most part it wasn’t a place we were terribly enthu about living in long term.
We lived there for a few months and moved into our first home- along with a mortgage, luggage and added on books, some things here and there and a kid. It was an overall peaceful albeit a slightly dull life in patches. I say in patches because once TO arrived, we forgot what it was like to have time to think about life before kids.
I was still working a regular 9-5 back then and Red’s always been WORKING so the house was literally a crash pad and for living over the weekends. We entertained very little and it came alive once the brat was born. It was then his domain entirely!
In the fag end of circa 2013 we moved to the current place we live in now. This is our own place too and we moved in with slightly lesser number of books, more kiddy stuff, yet another mortgage and a spring in our steps. We’ve really been living it up here compared to how our lives where in the old house. Each one of us has friends, a well-define social circle but we’ve also had enough of run-ins with hammers, chisels, building, breaking and rebuilding stuff too. TO is so firmly ensconced here that any sign of any change, even it is something he likes later on, gets on his nerves.
After 7 years of living here, we felt the place needed some upgrades, mostly functional changes, nothing major but changes nonetheless and those began yesterday. We have a good friend who has a very good eye for design, optimisation of space and aesthetics overall and she’s drawn up a few things that Red and I are quite kicked about. But to TO, it’s just a bunch of people coming into his space to break things, make the place look unfamiliar and he’s not a happy camper. He’s looking at people coming into his house to make changes and even if those changes are to take out shelves where we were storing junk, he wants it kept int toto- no change, nothing, NADA!
When I tried to show him the 3D renditions that were shown to us about the proposed changes he sniffed, turned his nose up at it and said that doesn’t look like our house at all. So I let him be. In another day or so he’ll see the biggest advantage to having workers around for most of the day- his parents being busier than ever and not being able to keep an eagle eye on him and whether he’s actually in his classes or in a galaxy far, far away…beatboxing away to his heart’s content.
Note: That’s the new fad and he’s pretty decent at memorising the songs he’s seen online and singing them word for word. This is the same child who routinely forgets to do at least one part of a two-part job on a daily basis…SIGH
But stay tuned for more home improvement pictures…and now I must away for there is a cup of tea with my name on it and I want to enjoy it while the brat and his father slumber deeply. There’s a tree where the leaves and the drying pods of the fruit rustle in the leaves and it’s very soothing and almost hypnotic in the darkness. It’s a while before it’ll be sunrise and the neighbors are awakening, starting their morning walks and in a few hours there’ll be some more banging of hammers along the gripes of child who’s suddenly grown an attachment to wooden shelves and there’ll be me- drinking coffee and counting days till she runs her hands over every single new inch of her home that she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to keep clean.