Lockdown began officially three weeks ago today, but as a family we’ve been in lockdown since the 20th March. Ordered home from school with a cough, the children have been with me here 24/7. They have been nowhere beyond the fields and nature reserve right by our house. I last ventured further on the 21st March. Since then I have not turned left from our house, not even for a walk around the block. We turn right because there is more to see, more new places to walk, less people and less chance of danger. Less fear. But mostly, w’ere indoors. We’re living a life, indoors.
How the world has changed in just one month. In just one month we’ve gone from roaming the country as freely as time and money allowed, to barely stepping from our doorsteps. I spent my last weekend in the outside world at The Baby & Toddler Show, chatting to expectant parents, working, being around lots and lots of people. Now I cross the street or I herd the children down dips in the country lane when I see other people approaching. I silently scold them for getting too close, or I hold my breath and just hope that we’re all far apart enough for it to make a difference. Now, the mere sight of other people sends a chill down my spine and around my bones.
How the world has changed in just one month. Now we are told that we cannot stop on a beautiful sunny day to have a picnic with loved ones. We cannot visit relatives on Easter Sunday, we cannot pop to the shop for an ice-cream or visit the sea to dip our toes in the icy cold sea. We cannot drive along the motorway without somewhere important to be. We cannot be outside for longer than one hour. Sixty minutes of the outside world is enough, and sometimes, some days, it’s far too much.
How the world has changed in just one month. Now I am the only adult still working. Now I am mum, teacher, worker, loner. Now I am rising early to scrape together some semblance of a day that might keep us all going. Now I am scrolling Facebook to discover how woefully I am failing, how incredibly dismally I am failing. Now I am reading the news, hoping for it to change, hoping for a new headline. Now I am dreaming of a life not indoors.
Life, indoors. We’re adapting. We’re doing well, all things considered, all Facebook updates considered. We’re ploughing through fractions and phonics and place value and ballet lessons. We’re forging ahead with guitar lessons, baking sessions, creative writing and addition sums. We’re advancing on reading lessons and acro lessons. One of us has mastered the cartwheel and another can now read a whole sheet of tricky words. We’re ticking the boxes, we’re staying at home and we’re filling the windows with rainbows.
Life, indoors isn’t so bad. We’re together, we’re well and we’re enjoying each other’s company (mostly). But it’s not life. It’s not running free with arms out-stretched and grass tickling your toes. It’s not packing a bag full with sandwiches and biscuits and watching the world fly past through the tiny window of a train. It’s not stepping over sticky floors with an elbow in your side and lager breath down your neck as you crane to see the band under the hot strobing stage lights. It’s not all of the tiny things that make up life.
Endless trips to and from extra-curricular events. Tiresome school runs. Ironing on a Sunday night. Putting the bins out on a Tuesday. Trawling round Asda on a Saturday afternoon. Signing reading records. Putting bobbles in hair. Finding matching socks. Parent’s evenings. Parties. Trips to the library. Standing on a cold, wet playground, willing the classroom doors to swing open so you can get back in the car to dry off. Nipping to Nana’s for a proper ham sandwich and a Wagon Wheel. Longer journeys to Nanny’s to measure yourself against the sunflowers in the garden. Chatting to neighbours over the low fence, laughing about the cats having a second home, second bowl of tuna, second set of parents. Play dates, sleepovers. Cub camps, Brownie camps. School trips. Sports Day. Class assemblies. Just standing, still, amongst a crowd and allowing all the busyness, all the people, to simply mill around you and be. Peace in a busy world.
How the world has changed. Life indoors is quiet but there is no peace. There is a constant nagging doubt that we’re doing it all wrong, we did it all too late. A constant fear they’ll send us back to the outside world too soon, too late, too broken.
Life, indoors. It has up days and down days. But it goes on. We go on. Different versions of ourselves, in a different version of the world. But we go on.