Week X-Y: Puddles and sea breezes

The last few weeks have been some sort of quazi state, full lockdown seems a long time ago but… we’re neither there nor normal. We still do not know what X is, and I’ve lost count of Y. At the end of July, when I got my haircut for the first time in months, the hairdresser asked whether we would ever return to normal. I think the obvious answer for me is that, no, we never will. It’s not possible to return to a state that requires someone who has died to be alive. And life marches on in ever twisting directions that returning is never really a direction you can go in.

But for a few weeks over the summer life continued in a different place. One where we could hear the sea rather than a motorway faintly in the distance. One where we were staying with friends who are more like family than a number of those we share DNA with. And I slept. Not once did I wake up in the night with the start of April playing through my head. I rested. Not in a sit down and put your feet up kind of way, but in a way that it wasn’t about how to occupy three small people or get through the home schooling or juggle who was getting groceries without taking the small people; we could simply breathe, run in the sand, listen to the waves. Even the eldest seemed to relax a bit in his obsession for order. In the chaos of doing life in a household that consisted of a not quite two, two and a half, four and a half and not quite six year old, even with four adults, there was rest and healing. Maybe not in the which child is going to wake the rest of the house up (virtually always my youngest…); but in the being together with close friends, talking about everything from the major to the insignificant, playing board games and walking along the beach.

It makes no sense to me that we live where we do on the one hand. My place of peace is a beach. Listening to the waves. And after not that long away from it I’m already back to being drained and not sleeping well. And it’s more than the difference between “being away” and “being at home”. It’s the patterns, rhythms and people around (or not) us. This evening is the cusp of another shift in the rules. For England it means a limit of six people, rather than two households; whether they be a babe-in-arms or pensioner they count towards the tally. So whilst six young adults from six households can now freely meet, young children are once more kept apart and parents of said children isolated.

Frankly I cannot take much more. If someone was to quote the slogan of no health without mental health at me right now it would be as much as I could do to not laugh in their face. When you have a child that doesn’t do change, the start of school is a big deal. The last week has been horrendous here at points. As in, child turning purple because they are screaming so much, horrendous. I’m hoping that after a full week has now been completed, the next one will be easier. So it’s been a week that started with me tired and finished with me dragging myself out of bed and pasting on a smile whilst arguing about the need to get into school uniform and get there on time. Life has been busy with the small people and I could easily use that as the reason I haven’t written much, but it wouldn’t be the whole story.

As critical as getting children back into school is, they need to be able to interact with their peers, they engage in the here and now, not over video calls. But they can’t do that unless their parents take them and stay with them. What is one of the biggest support points when you have young children? Another family with children the same age, and for many, grandparents. As a family of five, we can no longer meet with either as a family, or even by splitting up in some cases.

The husband is happy in his job, which makes my current state of mind hard. If he wasn’t he could apply for other options. We are the last ones standing where we live now in so many ways. Still in the area we went to university, everyone we knew there has moved on a long time ago. Some we keep in touch with, others we hardly know any more. Even at Church, our connections have all moved elsewhere, for different reasons. I don’t feel there is anything to keep us here and want to be round the corner from people who were our first port of call for who to have in the house during labour. Those are the friendships that have no price.

If this quasi state and isolation is life now then I want to do it where we’re all happy, and when I reflect back through the last best part of two years of life only waiting for us to stand back up before dealing another blow, there’s only one place that that really all circles back to… and it’s not here…

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