We’re taking just one day at a time... like families all over the country

Mum of two ELAINE DUGGAN writes about the change in family life since schools shut last week and how she is coping
We’re taking just one day at a time... like families all over the country

MOVIE TIME: Cuddles on the sofa, as they snuggled in tight, slurped up their strawberry jelly, listening to them sing along, their laughter, their giggles...

I WAS meant to write this article three hours ago… my intention was to pop on a movie and let my little girls watch it, while I got ahead on a bit of work.

They’d had their full of arts and crafts, Lego building, writing letters (to their classmates who they only saw a few days ago!) as well as a 4km scoot outdoors in the fresh air — so they were due some TV time.

But instead of switching on the laptop, I caved into their pleas that I sit down with them on the sofa, along with their dad and watch The Greatest Showman... and if I’m honest it was exactly the tonic I needed.

Cuddles on the sofa, as they snuggled in tight, slurped up their strawberry jelly, listening to them sing along, their laughter, their giggles, the incessant million and one questions about the plot, the actors, the singing…!

There were moments during the movie that my emotions overcame me… as it just seemed like a normal evening at home, all together.

So much has changed… and yet nothing has changed.

The girls went off to bed happy, innocently unaware of the awful situation that continues to unfold around us.

For them, today was just a normal day… OK, so not exactly ‘normal’, but nothing too extraordinary either. They got up and pretty much did as they would always do. Yes, their usual sporting activities were all cancelled over the weekend, they didn’t have to go to school this week, but they still filled their day with different joyous activities.

They may not have played with their friends, or seen their grandparents as they would usually have done — but for today that is OK.

And that’s what I keep telling myself right now, if we take each day as it comes… This new ‘normal’ doesn’t seem so awful right now — if anything it has forced us all to slow down, to turn our attention inwards to our homes, wholeheartedly towards our families. But who knows what we’ll all feel like in a few days… a few weeks…

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had days in the past week where I’ve felt physically ill with the enormity of what may be to come. Restless nights worrying about the older and frailer members of my family, the most vulnerable in all of this. Fearful for their physical and mental health. And there’s barely been time to think of the harsh financial burden that this too will bring on different individuals and families and businesses.

One quote that stuck with me in the lowest points of the past few days was by Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who said: “We must stay apart today, to have warmer hugs and run faster together tomorrow…” It’s a beautiful sentiment and important to see that a country which has been through so much in the past few weeks, and lost so many, still looks to the future with hope.

The kids have had plenty of questions over these past few days, some difficult to answer — you want them to understand why we are self-isolating, but not frighten them. Today my eldest shouted from across the roadside up to my mom’s bedroom window, telling her how much she misses her… it’s only been a few days, but we don’t know when they’ll be allowed together again. She’s also penned a letter to post to her grandad, telling him how this coronavirus really sucks and she can’t wait for it to go away soon.

I’ve had worrying thoughts that these sacrifices may not be just for a few weeks and that we have no idea of what exactly is coming down the tracks.

I’ve been keeping myself up to date with the news and also dipping in and out of social media. I am sure, like everyone else, there’s an insatiable appetite to know how things are developing.

But the words that I have read have both terrified and comforted me in the last few days in equal measure.

I’ve been traumatised by stories relayed from Italy, pages of death notices in local newspapers… stories that there are not enough ventilators in Italian hospitals, forcing doctors to choose who gets medical attention… and who doesn’t — in other words, who lives and who dies — all because they simply cannot cope with the volume of patients. The numbers of deceased rising daily… Just as the number of cases continues to rise here too.

But amidst all this terrifying news, I’ve also been buoyed by the words and actions of so many others… The mothers sharing ideas on how to keep the kids occupied, the businesses reaching out a hand to frontline workers, communities and neighbours rallying around their elderly and vulnerable, ensuring that they have everything they need.

There are some moments when I think we are prepared for this… whatever this virus will throw at us. And there are moments when it feels like a tsunami of an uncontrollable magnitude is just feet away from hitting.

But for now, for today, I am just trying to get on with this new normal, for the sake of our children. Trying to make some memories, happy memories that they will recall. So we keep from them our fears, our scary thoughts, our relentless concerns and instead fill them up with strawberry jelly and sing-along movies… and a bit of home schooling in the mix.

Right now, it might seem a picture perfect home life, but it won’t last, as Cork woman Helen Queely Murphy, aka Daily Diva Diary, reminded us at the weekend — but that’s OK! She said: “Not everything will be ‘gram perfect over the next few weeks. There’ll be rows, there’ll be tears, there will be great plans to declutter, clean, cook, write a novel, be a tiger mom and teach the kids a new language or how to bang out a piano concerto on the wonky old keyboard that Santy brought five years ago (OK, maybe not that last one)... we need to be realistic.

“The best laid plans will go wrong, the kids will probably drive us demented, arts and crafts will turn into domestic colour runs, glitter will become a permanet addition to EVERY surface and restlessnes wll set in. Remember this though, we are resilient and we can get through this. We can see it through to the end.”

Out of every trial and tribulation in life, I believe we learn something. So what is it that we will learn from this?

Another post I read during the week is one I hope will ring true:

And the people stayed at home.

And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised

and made art, and played games and learned new ways of being and were still.

“And some listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.

Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless

And heartless ways

The earth began to heal

And when the danger passed, And the people joined together again,

They grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images and created new ways to live

And heal the earth fully,

As they had been healed.”

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