So my Out-Of-Office has been a little longer than anticipated and somehow evolved from maternity leave to extended pandemic leave!
The reality of day-to-day life this last twelve months has meant Goldfields Girl has ceased to exist! As every new mother knows, you seem to disappear into an ocean of sleep deprivation, nappy changes, constant nursing and often it’s not just your time that gets swallowed up but your sense of self too. Throw in covid, lockdowns, home learning, family loss and well, social media was not really something I’ve had any time for.
For the brief moment life was normal at the beginning of the year I struggled to navigate four children aged 5 and under, either trying to keep everyone contained and quiet while the Captain worked from home or managing solo parenting while he was away for work. Now that we have a child in school it’s meant no matter how sleep deprived or chaotic things are, we still need to be organised enough to get everyone out the door to do school drop off. I did on one occasion have the walk of shame – arriving at the school gate bleary eyed still in my Pj’s but at least our prep made it to class. Still, it’s something I can laugh off since my wardrobe is not particularly high on my list of priorities anymore.
When lockdowns started again this year it was a relief that I would get to pause the difficult juggle of managing a new born with school runs, health nurse appointments, after school activities and life commitments. The relief was short lived with the reality of being stuck at home with everything that entailed. Despite doing lockdowns before each one gets harder and having a baby was a whole added burden (a cute and cuddly one though!).
I’d willingly do lockdowns all over again knowing it kept many vulnerable people (including my own family) safe (thank goodness we finally have vaccines now!) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it difficult and struggled every moment we were home. It was a tough time rocking a crying baby while multitasking the home learning for child who needed everything micromanaged. All this while I fought off a toddler attempting to eat the glue stick or steal pencils to draw on the walls or having a kinder child use the chair to grab the scissors/glue/pencils I’d just moved away from the toddler. Even catching a toilet break was difficult as I’d have to hope the Captain wasn’t in the middle of a video call so he could take over, or I’d have to race around trying to pack up pencils, computer, any type of hazard, then find something for the kindy and school aged children to do with the toddler to keep her busy enough that the baby would be safe from her. I’ve learnt from many a traumatic experience that even a 30 second absence with the best planning can still be a disaster when a 5 year old, 3 year old, toddler and baby are left unsupervised.
There were of course brief moments of calm throughout the day, usually followed by the realisation our toddler had managed to get into the the play pen I’d set up for baby (before biting her) or finding someone had flushed one of my shoes down the toilet. Any moment of quiet calm was only ever just a fleeting moment of happy ignorance and almost always followed with tears from children, mummy or both. However we all survived with no injuries or anything that couldn’t be fixed with soft words and a cuddle.
The thing that bought the most heartache this time around was losing both my Pa (my maternal grandfather) and Nonnie (my paternal grandmother). My Nonnie who was always so positive and optimistic and my Pa who was truly the most cheerful person you’d ever meet surprisingly passed within 12 hours of one another which was a shock at the time. It can feel so isolating when you cant have all your friends and family around you at a time like that. When we could finally have visitors at home it came with such mixed feelings of sadness knowing they would no longer be coming through our door. I’m heartbroken even though I’m at peace with it. When someone is old, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to say goodbye. They loved us so much, as we did them, and things just seem so gloomier without them. My mum, in trying to put into words how she felt about Pa described him as the sunshine in our life and it sums him up perfectly. Now the sunshine is somehow gone.
Now that vaccines are readily available, lockdowns have lifted, school is back and visitors are welcome at home it feels like things are looking up even if many Victorians are fatigued and resemble zombies dragging ourselves about as we re-enter society. I’m still an everyday exhausted Mum and I still have plenty of tears from missing my grandparents, juggling kids and missing my old self but things are always easier when you can see loved ones, pop by the neighbours, hug a friend, or visit family. So I hope dear old friends that if in this last 18 months you seem to have lost yourself a little bit (or a lot!) too, that seeing the people you love and going the places you felt at home, help bring you back a little more. xx