I think it’s normal to feel a certain level of separation anxiety about lockdown lifting. When Boris Johnson announced his roadmap to ease restrictions, I felt elated. I must admit, though, the elation has subsided this past week and allowed a mild dread to creep in. To paraphrase Andy Bernard (US Office – yes, that’s about as high-brow as you’re getting with me, folks) ‘I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them’.
Now, let’s get this straight, I’m not suggesting that I think a global pandemic killing millions of people should be referred to as ‘the good old days’. At best, this past year has been a slog – an uphill battle. At worst it has been unrepairable and life-altering.
My calendar filled up within minutes
I’ve found it tough and until Boris made those announcements I counted down the minutes until we’d be rid of this horror and my son would finally be able to see the world. But, almost as soon as he uttered the 21st June, my calendar started filling up; holidays were booked, weddings were going ahead (thank goodness), my mum was blocking days out of her calendar to babysit Isaac.
The latter point is perhaps the most pertinent to me. I haven’t had to leave Isaac yet, because well, where would I go? In fact – Isaac, James and our dog, Milly have spent almost every moment with me throughout this pandemic. The news is awash with statistics on how children – and even dogs – are going to suffer with separation anxiety after this pandemic is over, but what about the adults? The ones who have been holding their families together via Zoom calls and banana bread for an entire year. Now, we’re all meant to surreptitiously slip back into our old lives without a moment to reflect on this year.
Alison Morton, of the Institute of Health Visiting, told the BBC that parents with new babies needn’t worry about how lockdown will affect their progression: “In those first few months, parents are babies’ most favourite things,” she said.
I’ve heard this a fair few times now and it makes me happy. As far as parents go, we’ve faired quite well in the whole ‘will my child be affected long-term by coronavirus?’ debate. But, whenever I do reflect on it all I am tinged with a bit of sadness about what could have been.
How lockdown has changed me
I’m a mum now, I went through a gargantuan change during lockdown without anybody seeing me go through it. I have to wonder, how does my new life – with baby in tow – slot into my old life? Do I still want to get so drunk at weddings that I can’t see my food? Do I want to get the train to London and wander around the National Portrait Gallery on my own? Do I want to get on a train full stop? I’ve come to terms with the fact that these questions can’t and won’t be answered until we’re released back into the big wide world.
I’ll tell you one thing it has made me realise though; I no longer have such a need to share things. I recently realised that there’s a weight of other people’s expectations on my shoulders when I share things online. Before I even do the thing (be it a run, a walk with my friends, a big work project) if I have a plan to share it, it’s already altered from it’s truest form. That’s because I don’t just do it – I do it while my subconscious mulls over how it will be shared.
James and I have been taking daily videos of Isaac and the things we get up to in lockdown and having decided not to share them, the weight of them has just been lifted. Our parents generation had the right idea about creating home videos just for them. Without the watchful, and sometimes judgemental, eyes of others on them.
The past year has a lot to answer for, but I’ve learnt a lot about myself, too. I’ve learnt about my resilience, my ability to see the small glimmers of positivity in an otherwise negative day, the little nuances of days that would’ve otherwise passed me by.
James and I have got to learn how to be an entirely different people in public from 21st June. I’m up for the challenge because, well, I haven’t got a choice, but I’m intrigued as to how it’ll play out.