Our patience is worn, our energy is fading, but our hope is not completely spent yet

Ahead of Mother’s Day and to mark the first anniversary of her WOW! column, Eimear Hutchinson reflects on what has been a challenging year for all
Our patience is worn, our energy is fading, but our hope is not completely spent yet

WoW columnist Eimear Hutchinson reflects on the past year. Picture Dan Linehan

THIS week’s article in WoW! comes right in the middle of a lovely week of celebrating both women (International Women’s Day on March 8) and mammies (Mother’s Day this Sunday, March 14) so I am going to revel in the double celebration.

It is also a year since I started this column, and it feels fitting to round out one lovely year here in The Echo with an updated version of my first ever article.

Last year, I wrote about motherhood and my experience of it to date. Little did I know what the year ahead would entail and how intense my experience as a mother was about to get. At times that was a wonderful thing and at others it was mind-boggling, but either way there was little or no escape!

Looking back over the last year from my point of view as a mother, my overwhelming sense of the year is one of sadness, how could it not be? 

My heart goes out to every parent who struggled this last year with job loss, financial pressures, working from home, minding kids, home schooling, missing friends and family, and the lack of escape there was from any of it to catch a bit of headspace.

For months on end, parents had to get up each day and put on a brave face to ensure the small world we each inhabited was a happy, carefree place for our children. And there were days where that was tough, it was like ground- hog day, but with little option for making the next day feel much different to the day before.

I am lucky though, many adults are really, because regardless of how interminable the year felt for us, we will get this year back. We will make up for it in years to come because we have the time. No matter how hard the day might feel for me, I always step back and think of the many, many young and old people for whom this past year has meant they have missed out on milestones and growing that we took for granted in a former life.

I look at children and my heart breaks for the days they have spent just passing time until their little lives can start up again.

Children get to be children for such a short amount of time and they have lost some of that precious innocence. Their worlds should be filled with nothing more complex than wondering whose team they will be on during GAA training, or what table will they be seated at in school next week, or how many pairs of pjs should they pack to go visit their grandparents. Instead, they are concerned with washing their hands and grappling with self-motivation as they sit in front of their school books at the kitchen table.

I also feel for teenagers who should be flexing their independence, but a pandemic has put paid to a precious year of that. 

They should be getting their first taste of freedom during which boundaries should be tested and pushed with parents not a government.

As an adult, it is sometimes hard to stomach, even though we are all aware of the importance of lockdowns and keeping our distance, but as a teenager it must be mind-bending to try and get your head around.

For college students who get on average four years in college, they have lost one of those valuable years. I know they are learning remotely but we all know that the academic side of college forms just part of the overall learning experience. Sitting in your bedroom attending lectures via Zoom is a far cry from sitting in a huge auditorium surrounded by people. They should be meeting new friends for a coffee, watching the hours slip by without a care in the world as you sit on the brink of adulthood, without much of the responsibility that dominates our older years.

I feel sad for the older generations whose years are more numbered than mine — grandparents who have missed out on a year of watching their grandchildren grow up. 

They have seen first steps over Zoom and missed out on hugs with cuddly, wriggly two-year-olds!

I feel sad for those in nursing homes who have missed so much time in the loving comfort of their families and instead spent their precious time grappling with technology or panes of glass to communicate with those they love. But ultimately my heart breaks for the children and young people whose mental health had been adversely affected by this period of isolation and loneliness.

I hadn’t initially set out for this article to be so morose but sometimes you just have to go where the words take you. Our patience is worn, our energy is fading but our hope is not completely spent yet. The daffodils are proof the world keeps on moving and the stretch in the evenings is breathing life back into many of us. So here’s hoping my article this time next year will be filled with tales of sunsets at home in Sligo, playdates with friends, and the word home-schooling with be so faded in our memories we will look back and smile, or shudder, I haven’t decided yet!

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