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Leaning in … to lockdown

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In March, when none of us could foresee the lay of the land ahead, I left my job after 16 years in the same organisation. I had reached that point of no return, when it was time to admit that the role and the organisation was no longer serving me. I felt relief and nervous anticipation about what the future might hold and what role I might find that would fill the growing void between my career dreams and the stark reality. Back then I envisaged time and space to think, not really had since before the children came along. I was leaving a job I had held
SelfishMother.com
2
since returning from travelling with my boyfriend, now husband of over 15 years, and felt as though I was on a cliff edge looking out at a world of possibility. That feeling of spreading my wings and launching off was exciting and reminded me of how I felt when we had decided to take a year out and travel before getting hitched. The world, however, had other plans and my time to breathe and much needed headspace got hijacked by lockdown and school closures.

We’d at least made it to the end of term so those first few weeks of lockdown fell within the

SelfishMother.com
3
official school holiday and almost felt like a novelty. We enjoyed each other’s company, ate all our meals together and had family TV time, catching up on His Dark Materials and Seven Worlds One Planet. We walked the local neighbourhood together, the girls cycling in the road and we discovered houses we had not seen before, the scent of the roses spurring us on.

As the new term commenced and remote learning kicked in, any thoughts I had of reinvention disappeared and the days took on a structure, and stress, I had not been seeking or prepared for.

SelfishMother.com
4
Homeschooling, it turned out, was not really my forte and whilst this did not come as any great surprise, I did wish that I could be more patient and helpful than I was on some days. Nonetheless, over time we found our stride and I stepped back from hovering and fretting. I realised it could’ve been so much more complicated, my eldest was already through her exams and had a new school lined up and my youngest was not in a critical school year. Coupled with the fact that, for the first time since university, I was not working, I had a lot to be grateful
SelfishMother.com
5
for.

I found daily life took on a gentle, predictable pace, with mealtimes and school work providing a framework. I enjoyed not having that nagging feeling of needing to do something or be somewhere and took my foot off the pedal. It turned out that pottering and housekeeping weren’t so bad, although cleaning was, and remains, a somewhat thankless task! My husband took himself up to the loft each day to work and the girls and I found our rhythm. It wasn’t all calm but we navigated the ups and downs together and all learned the importance of saying

SelfishMother.com
6
sorry, not only to accept responsibility but to keep the peace.

My takeaways will be simple, the girls cooking their first ever lemon meringue pie with daddy, my eldest finding three armpit hairs, learning to indicate on her bike without wobbling and skipping on the trampoline. My youngest learning chess and making banana loaf for all our neighbours. The girls playing more imaginatively and harmoniously together and finding pleasure in just colouring and trying out new hairstyles. My husband letting his head and facial hair grow (and grow), never

SelfishMother.com
7
complaining about having to work when downstairs we were on a more fluid timetable and laughing with me as we watched Fleabag. And me, reading One Day after years of it being on my bookshelf, discovering Laura Marling, taking up HIIGA, and using up all those body moisturisers I’d been saving for a rainy day! My girls having each other and my parents learning to Zoom. My female friendships and connecting more with those that consistently add value to my life, rather than drain it.

As restrictions ease, I remain acutely aware that the situation in

SelfishMother.com
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which our particular household found itself during this unprecedented time was just one of many different experiences across the country and I hope as a family we were always mindful of this. We can always dream of greener grass but the truth is, as long as our basic needs are met, food, shelter, health, then we can adjust and lean in if the journey takes a slightly different path than expected.
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- 27 Jul 20

In March, when none of us could foresee the lay of the land ahead, I left my job after 16 years in the same organisation. I had reached that point of no return, when it was time to admit that the role and the organisation was no longer serving me. I felt relief and nervous anticipation about what the future might hold and what role I might find that would fill the growing void between my career dreams and the stark reality. Back then I envisaged time and space to think, not really had since before the children came along. I was leaving a job I had held since returning from travelling with my boyfriend, now husband of over 15 years, and felt as though I was on a cliff edge looking out at a world of possibility. That feeling of spreading my wings and launching off was exciting and reminded me of how I felt when we had decided to take a year out and travel before getting hitched. The world, however, had other plans and my time to breathe and much needed headspace got hijacked by lockdown and school closures.

We’d at least made it to the end of term so those first few weeks of lockdown fell within the official school holiday and almost felt like a novelty. We enjoyed each other’s company, ate all our meals together and had family TV time, catching up on His Dark Materials and Seven Worlds One Planet. We walked the local neighbourhood together, the girls cycling in the road and we discovered houses we had not seen before, the scent of the roses spurring us on.

As the new term commenced and remote learning kicked in, any thoughts I had of reinvention disappeared and the days took on a structure, and stress, I had not been seeking or prepared for. Homeschooling, it turned out, was not really my forte and whilst this did not come as any great surprise, I did wish that I could be more patient and helpful than I was on some days. Nonetheless, over time we found our stride and I stepped back from hovering and fretting. I realised it could’ve been so much more complicated, my eldest was already through her exams and had a new school lined up and my youngest was not in a critical school year. Coupled with the fact that, for the first time since university, I was not working, I had a lot to be grateful for.

I found daily life took on a gentle, predictable pace, with mealtimes and school work providing a framework. I enjoyed not having that nagging feeling of needing to do something or be somewhere and took my foot off the pedal. It turned out that pottering and housekeeping weren’t so bad, although cleaning was, and remains, a somewhat thankless task! My husband took himself up to the loft each day to work and the girls and I found our rhythm. It wasn’t all calm but we navigated the ups and downs together and all learned the importance of saying sorry, not only to accept responsibility but to keep the peace.

My takeaways will be simple, the girls cooking their first ever lemon meringue pie with daddy, my eldest finding three armpit hairs, learning to indicate on her bike without wobbling and skipping on the trampoline. My youngest learning chess and making banana loaf for all our neighbours. The girls playing more imaginatively and harmoniously together and finding pleasure in just colouring and trying out new hairstyles. My husband letting his head and facial hair grow (and grow), never complaining about having to work when downstairs we were on a more fluid timetable and laughing with me as we watched Fleabag. And me, reading One Day after years of it being on my bookshelf, discovering Laura Marling, taking up HIIGA, and using up all those body moisturisers I’d been saving for a rainy day! My girls having each other and my parents learning to Zoom. My female friendships and connecting more with those that consistently add value to my life, rather than drain it.

As restrictions ease, I remain acutely aware that the situation in which our particular household found itself during this unprecedented time was just one of many different experiences across the country and I hope as a family we were always mindful of this. We can always dream of greener grass but the truth is, as long as our basic needs are met, food, shelter, health, then we can adjust and lean in if the journey takes a slightly different path than expected.

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