As I logged in to the blog today, I couldn’t help but notice how many started attempts I have had at blog entries that are all still sitting in draft form. Some are almost at the point of completion, others are half written and then seemingly abandoned, and some are little more than a heading and an opening sentence. I also have a piece of paper attached to my notice board of 50 other topics I have for blog posts.
But do you know what? Despite all my good intentions of trying to post at least once a week, I think it is fair to say that the weeks of lockdown over the past year have required all of us to make adjustments to our good intentions and plans.
I got a facebook memory appear this morning that announced that this time 365 days ago, I was preparing with my children to embark on home learning. When we prepped the working space for home learning one year ago, I remember hugging them tight and telling them that it probably wouldn’t be for too long and they would once again see their friends, have play dates and enjoy their social lives within a short period of time.
How wrong was I?
I really don’t believe that any of us honestly thought 365 days ago that we would still be trying to emerge from lockdown a full year later. I don’t believe any of us imagined not seeing our family or loved ones for most of that time. I certainly did not imagine spending almost all my contact with people over the past year being on zoom, facetime, google duo, microsoft teams and all the other varied ways that we have managed to stay in touch. The limited contact I have had with actual, live people has involved sanitiser, face masks and a 2m socially distanced space between us. I certainly didn’t envisage that the school work area would continue to be used up until just a couple of weeks ago and that somehow within those 365 days, the far end of my living room would be converted in to a permanent office set up so that both myself and husband can do our work from home. It certainly appears that I will continue this way for a while yet and he is also likely to need a space to work for several months more.
And yet, although I know this has been devastating for many people who have been affected with mental health concerns, loss of loved ones, financial worries, general uncertainty and fear – we have survived! And not only have I survived, my kids have survived and also thrived under these most challenging conditions. At a recent parents evening we were told that our 9 year old Gremlin is reading to the level of an 11 year old and has made progress in both maths and english. She has also developed her creativity which is something that her teacher said is hard to teach and is expanded through experiences and play which she also got to do during home learning. Our almost 12 year old Sproglet has continued to progress in his learning and has not fallen any further behind than he was already, so even having to put up with mum as his inept teacher we managed to hold our own.
In spite of the restrictions preventing so many of our planned trips and experiences and the unavoidable extra screen time both kids have enjoyed while I have endured it, I can now celebrate other achievements. They have both become master builders on Minecraft, they have role played and engaged creatively with friends on Roblox, they have learned sneaky skills while being the imposter on Among Us. I have also watched them both increase their social skills with friends while mastering class zooms, google classrooms, whatsapp, facetime and text messaging. We have baked cookies, made bread, prepared meals together and done household chores and I have seen them become more competent and safety aware in all these areas. We have enjoyed fireside chats, picnic table chats, sitting in the hot tub chats, and I have been amazed to hear some of their dreams, worries, thoughts and hopes for their futures. I have also seen moments when their maturity and deep thinking far surpasses their years and at other times stood there shaking my head and laughing out loud with them at their childish humour which has managed to find the funny side of even the most trying circumstances. I have wiped my fair share of tears in those 365 days from their eyes and mine when frustration has kicked in or sadness has paid us a visit and I have lost count of how many fights I have refereed or intervened in during those 365 days.
I have moments where these 365 days have felt like a lifetime and I have pleaded for lockdown to end and for some normality and routine to return to our lives. At other times I have found a real sense of gratitude and privilege that I have been allowed to spend an additional 365 days with my children that I would never normally have been afforded the opportunity to do. We have spent many hours together reminiscing over the last time we were able to spend so much continuous time together. I realised that the first year they moved in with us following their placement was the most talked about time when they were revisiting memories, and I am humbled when I understand it was our constant attention and presence that has left the most outstanding impression on their small lives.
I will finish by saying that I have not enjoyed all 365 of those days since the 23rd March 2020 but I have felt God be closer to me during those times, encouraging me to keep moving, giving me the strength and grace to face each day and giving me patience when I’ve just had enough.
I am hopeful for 2021 as we ease out of lockdown restrictions. I have a sense that there was purpose in this past year for our family and I hope you can reflect on your own experiences and see that same things in your family. I do believe that these 365 days will be something that my children will remember fondly, with positive memories when they look back years in the future and come to fully understand how they were history makers as they learned all these new skills and got to spend a year at home.
Stay safe people as it’s not all over yet, but know that brighter days are now on the way.