The Gift of Time

So, we’re 10 days in to a 14 day family home isolation/quarantine period. A kid at day care has Covid and because children have terrible hygiene and are unreliable witnesses when it comes to figuring out where they’ve been and who they’ve spoken to, the whole day care had to close and all families have been put into quarantine.

Three weeks ago, if you had described this scenario, I would have shaken my head, laughed and told you it was hands down my worst nightmare. Actually hotel quarantine as a family was and is my worst nightmare but this would have been a close 2nd or 3rd.

But like so many things in life, the fear of it happening was worse than it actually happening. Of course there was some swearing and a LOT of feelings when we first got the calls and messages from daycare. It was fear of Thomas getting really sick, one of us getting sick, a friend of Thomas’ getting sick- basically everything we’d been afraid of for the last 19 months. What if Covid killed us or someone close to us that we loved?

I mean, we’ve been really lucky in Australia- in Sydney especially. We had a lockdown in March-May 2020 and then it lifted and things were relatively normal. We didn’t wear masks, socially distance (really) or get vaccinated. We were the lucky country. Covid happened in other places- China, Italy, the US, the UK, Melbourne. Everywhere but here. So we didn’t worry. We packed away our masks, used “the virus” as an excuse to work from home but still go to bars. We didn’t want to take the bus, because of “Covid” but had no problem sitting shoulder to shoulder at sporting events.

And then something happened.

After over a year of hearing horror stories from around the world about variants, long term Covid effects, deaths and illness, Covid finally came back to Australia. As Delta. And we locked down- hard. Suddenly every message from the government was about vaccination, suddenly we weren’t meant to be more than 5km from our doorstep.

And then the call came. COVID’s not just in your neighborhood, it’s at daycare with your child. The abstract disease that everyone fears, suddenly was in our lives.

After the initial moments of shock and fear, it turned to, well, a bit of swearing, and a bit more disbelief. What are we meant to do now?

Get tested and then do 14 days of isolation at home, as a family. No leaving the house, except in emergency. No, gelato Messina is not an emergency. No ducking out for a coffee, no running to the shops for milk. No picking up lunch or takeaway food. Nothing. It sounds pretty harsh. But here’s the thing.

It’s not that bad. For us at least. It’s been- actually, kind of – hmmmm fun, isn’t the right word- but interesting.

See, like most working parents, I realize we actually don’t see our child that much. I mean we wake up, get dressed, have the occasional melt down over what shoes to wear, drop him at daycare and pick him up 9 hours later, eat dinner, have another meltdown over a meal he loved last week but hates now, then dinner, bath, books and bed. The last ten days I’ve gotten to know the no longer tiny human I’ve created.

And he’s actually pretty cool. He’s not the baby that I spent all day with when I was on mat leave. He’s almost 5 and he sings Old Town Road and Uptown Funk. He’s absolutely crazy about all types of football. He asks to watch American Football highlights on YouTube, pretends to do the Haka because he loves watching New Zealand play rugby union, can’t wait for the NRL Grand Final because The Rabbitohs (his team) are playing, and he can name nearly all the players on his believed Liverpool football team. He can spend hours in the backyard playing pretend ThomasBall matches- a blend of every kind of football.

He asks smart and interesting questions about indigenous people and colonization. He loves making up games, and is so inquisitive. He’s also worked out his “please” face, is bossy and knows when he’s about to get in trouble. He loves watching videos of himself and has memorized the codes for both of our phones so he can play games when we’re not looking. He’s competitive when he plays Go Fish, and somehow reminds me of both of my parents, myself and Gary all at the same time. In short, he’s amazing (I think).

The last 10 days I’ve got to see and experience Thomas in all his glory. We’ve been together all the time as a family and seeing him literally 14 hours a day for the last 10 days. I’m Not going to lie and say it’s been all sunshine and roses. Spending 140 hours with a 3foot tall version of yourself is testing at times. Especially when that version of yourself is extra sassy. But it has been good. And something we’ll probably never do again. So I’m taking it as a gift.

The gift of time with my child before he goes to big school. The gift of being able to see the boy he’s becoming and the last few months of the baby he’s been. This isolation period won’t last forever, nothing ever does. And Thursday morning, we’ll be back to normal for a few weeks at least as he finishes his last 12 weeks at pre-school and prepares for kindergarten. Maybe that’s why this time feels so special and so hard but happy. everything is about to change and I’m ok with that – because life is a process of change. But it’s nice to be fully immersed in “before” one more time before the after.


Corona update week 4 or 400 who knows?

So, here we are in 2020- in lockdown and safe at home- but slightly bored. I can report that after 4 weeks in lockdown I have accomplished a few things, but not nearly as much as the Instagram Influencers and Motivated Mothers circulating around the internet. I feel both inadequate and accomplished at the same time.

Life skills learned: 1- thanks to a dumpling class taught by my colleague in Shanghai.  I have also learned that I love dumplings and that they’re extremely relaxing to make.   The best part is that Gary does not like dumplings and I’ve gotten to eat every single one that I Made and they are yummy!

New cooking fad appliances bought:  1 – well 2—maybe 3 if you include the Soda Stream birthday gift.  The only one I’ve bought is the Inova sous vide precision cooker, (and the vacuum sealer to go with it.)  I can already tell it’s going to be life changing for 6 months and then sit in the drawer untouched most of the year.  It’s pretty cool though- I’ve already made carrots and asparagus.  Gary was unimpressed.  They tasted great but they were pretty much just normal carrots and normal asparagus.  So, he doesn’t really get what all the fuss is about.

Hobbies attempted:  3- But so far only 1 has been successful and even that is early days.  Apparently I’ve started a garden from seed- I think the broccoli is growing and at least one or two other plants.  I had very low expectations so didn’t bother to mark what is growing where or read the instructions on how to grow it.  I just stuck the seeds in dirt and the dirt in  a pot and now there are green things growing.  Maybe broccoli or lettuce or tomatoes?  Who knows?  It’s like a quarantine wheel of plant fortunes.

So that led me to think about building a planter box for my new victory garden of broccoli and tomatoes- hopefully.  Luckily, Gary talked me out of DIY-ing it and building it myself.  Actually, it was common sense that made me realize it was a bad idea.  That, and asking Gary whether we had a saw and what pilot holes are, knowing full well that I have no business near a saw- and the likelihood of me putting together anything without instructions is low.  So I just ordered a planter box- which is probably a huge mistake since I have no idea how to garden or even what size I need.  How much dirt goes into a planter box and then what do you do next?

And the third hobby that I have attempted is needlepoint/cross stitch-  well I ordered a kit, which wasn’t in stock, and I’ve ordered two more that haven’t arrived.  By the time they come this lockdown will be over and I’m sure they will both be filed away in my drawer of broken dreams. 

I  would love to say that I’m using my corona-cation time wisely but I’m not and it’s not really a vacation.  I’m working full time, and even though I’m saving time commuting and putting on makeup and getting dressed, I still don’t quite have the free time that other people seem to to learn hobbies or organise their lives I’m not making clever videos or memes or macrame-ing anything or sewing a mask or even Kondo-ing my cabinets.  I’m watching Netflix and still have laundry I haven’t folded and books I’m meaning to read.   Not much has changed- it feels like we’ve been stuck on Tuesday for 4 weeks now.  I think I’ll be a bit sad when this is all Over if I have nothing to show for it- or maybe I’ll just have everyone over for sous vide broccoli and dumplings.