These words are all I seem to hear at the moment. In every shop I enter, every radio station I tune into, every news feature I watch (although I must admit I have begun to avoid the news at times opting for the safety of Gardeners’ World or Peppa Pig). But the truth is, if I was asked to describe the times we are in at present, I would struggle to find a more apt word than unprecedented. It is as though the world has stopped spinning and there is a distinct sense of uncertainty in the air and for many this pandemic has been the most horrific experience of their lives. They have lost loved ones or even been ill themselves. Many have lost their jobs or had their businesses collapse; like I said, unprecedented.
With four children at home, three of whom require home schooling and the youngest one, Maria, being just nine months old (and me still working full-time from home) I’d say my home-life has become rather chaotic during lockdown. It was fun at first. Everyone agreed to be up washed and dressed by 7.30am (nobody would come downstairs in pyjamas). We would all do the live Joe Wicks workout before sitting down to work. My eldest boy Jimmy (eleven) insisted that we only have a 15 minute break between lessons each morning. I bought all of them new writing pads and pens and expensive felt tips, paints and play-dough for when we had art lessons. The idea was that they would all sit and complete the lessons sent home from their respective schools while I sat with my laptop doing my work. Maria would be in a little play pen happily (and quietly) playing with her toys. Utopia!
Zoom forward to week five. I come down stairs at 9am in my pyjamas. We’ve missed Joe Wicks, thank God. All the blinds are still drawn and the house is in semi-darkness. Maria is yelling, so I hand her a piece of Easter egg just for a minutes peace, (I’ll dig out some porridge for her later). Jimmy is on his Playstation in his pyjamas refusing point blank to do any school work. My 3 year old Tommy is running round the house screaming “I want Micky Mouse, I want Micky Mouse!!” I spend half an hour or so half-heartedly yelling up to my eldest daughter to get out of bed before giving up completely. I need a shower but the children still need breakfast so that has to wait. I go from one room to another picking up toys and clothes in a vain attempt to tidy up. This all goes on for most of the day. The children are arguing and fighting as the ever familiar boredom sets in. I’ve hidden the paints and play-dough as they proved to be more trouble than they were worth. We’re all dying to get out and about and see people but we can’t.
And just for a moment, when my inner self is about to scream, I realise how blessed I am compared to some. I think about how so many people are seriously suffering within their domestic situations as a result of this pandemic. I am blessed with a loving husband but imagine being in an abusive relationship amidst all this madness, you and your children trapped in a small space with your abuser. I imagine them then finding out they are pregnant. Nowhere to go, nobody to talk to. It could seem like there was no escape from the panic and anxiety. Your home could start to feel like a prison, where you are destined to suffer alone. Then I think of the charity Life – a beacon of light for so many. In the click of a button these women can start up friendly conversations with trained counsellors either via text message or phone call. Free pregnancy tests can be sent direct to people’s homes simply by following a link on the website. Free confidential counselling can be accessed by anyone suffering a pregnancy loss or crisis pregnancy. The support on offer is boundless and can all be accessed online from home which is vital during lockdown.
It’s strange how all-consuming our problems become when we have nobody to share them with. Just writing this blog today has lightened my mood and eased my anxieties. I know that I am far from alone in my daily battles but actually sharing it with people is a powerful tool for healing. For any women or men out there who feel like they are suffering alone, believe me, you are not. Many people are in similar situations to you. Help is out there, you just need the confidence to reach out and get it.