There’s nothing good about this

I have used the title phrase so many times this week.  We’re all trying so hard to see positives, but you know, this is not the life any of us have chosen.  Fear is a powerful emotion, as are sadness and grief.  

Being bored is hard when you’re a young person, I know it’s supposed to be good for you, but only in that it creates the impetus to go off and find something else to do.  Your teens and twenties are the time to be curious about the whole world, literally and physically.  This is an utterly awful time for those young folk.  It’s ok that they are frustrated and angry and it’s probably fine that they are hiding their sorrows by diving into far too many video games.

If I hear/read/see more articles about how much I could achieve in this lockdown I will go nuts.  I am not going to come out of here fluent in another language, a virtuoso pianist, a self-sufficient gardener, or owner of a handmade wardrobe.  Because I am still me!  I am still a pedestrian and untalented pianist and am now unmotivated to play and missing my weekly lessons madly.  I can s till only learn and practise languages with other humans, and frankly after a day’s work I cannot be bothered to find the time to learn anything new.  My garden is still a haven for wildlife – my euphemism for a large mess – and any produce will not survive my lack of skills and general garden laziness.  My ability to sew a straight line on a sewing machine, has not changed despite the fact the UK government has mandated I should stay in my house.  Why do I have to emerge from this lockdown as someone changed and improved?  I will emerge the same old flawed me thank you very much.

I am scared and worried despite all the breathing, praying, yoga, meditation – ok ok I should be doing much more of all of those, but social media still exists, as does the news and I want to waste time on them. OK?

And I am really worried about friends and family who are dealing with the home-schooling of children which sounds hideous.  Several friends are dealing with mental health problems, their own and their children’s – all so much harder to deal with in these times.  I have friends who were ill before this started and I am deeply worried about them.  Some have unsupportive families, some are alone.  This is just an awful situation.

I am terrified for my medical friends, literally at times just frozen with fear (yes, yes, these ARE the times I lean into breathing, mindfulness, prayer – the whole caboodle and yes it passes swiftly).  And they are exhausted – it is awful to see and hear.

And in amongst it all we are beginning to apologise for crying, for catastrophising, for not saying the right thing at every right moment, for being angry.  I have been scared to rant as it feels like a genie that needs to stay stuffed in a bottle labelled “finding the positive”.  But this is not positive, this is a global pandemic and there is nothing good about it.

PS Thank you letting me rant, I needed to just say all of this out loud.  I am fine and still finding a ton of positives – like the fact a pair of goldfinches have just been spotted in our garden for the first time.  I adore goldfinches.

Parenting moves on

I’ve written about this before, but parenting is changing more and more around here.  Possibly just in my head though.  One of the offspring moved out of his teens last weekend and milestones like that make you stop and reflect a bit.

It is an odd time of letting go at this stage of parenting, which I am very happy to do.  The weekend was great fun:  he came home and we had all the usual family celebrations of decorating the house with banners, a takeaway meal, opening presents together and a family lunch and board games.  Nothing flashy, just the usual traditions.

And then he went back to his own home.  We took down all the birthday decorations on his actual birthday, when traditionally they have stayed up for about a week.  It did feel a bit strange, but to be honest, it felt fine, just unusual.  I had a moment concerned that we were just eliminating him from our weekend as soon as he had left. Only a moment though.

I am proud and thrilled that he wanted to come and celebrate with us at all and that he wanted all the traditions which we have created over the years.  I am equally thrilled that he then wanted to go home and take his birthday with him, because it was his celebration, not mine. It is an odd time of loving two opposites, him being here and him being away, putting up the decorations and taking them down again.  I’m curious to know how this parenting thing continues to develop.

Buying more intentionally

One of my goals for this year was to be slower in life, to do things with more intention and more deliberately.   A surprising manifestation of this has been in shopping.  I am not a  lover of shopping, I found it stressful – there is too much choice, too much expectation to be buying things to make life better.  That never sat comfortably with me.

Somehow this year, I am enjoying shopping.  I have not yet managed to totally overcome the impulse to just buy things mindlessly and then feeling guilty afterwards, but a few things have definitely helped.

A decision to be more ethical in my purchasing, specifically about environmental impact of what I buy has been a transformation in my mindset.  The fashion industry is one of the major environmental culprits, guilty of mass-producing clothing in appalling working conditions, using and damaging a wealth of natural resources and all with the intention of forcing a complete change of wardrobe every month or so.  It seems that a seasonal wardrobe is no longer enough, we now have transition wardrobes, party wardrobes, holiday wardrobes.  I struggled hugely and refused to buy anything for ages and then overbought on impulse. I have found a form of clothes shopping I love – charity shops.  Not just any charity shop, but a specific few close to home, which I visit in a specific ritual involving hanging out with a teenage son, him browsing for vinyl and DVDs and us both having a fortifying coffee before we even contemplate shopping. So, a new wardrobe and a shared hobby with a teen.  Great result.

It is rather odd to realise that I look forward to clothes shopping, but I do.  I changed work hours this year and changed them to make sure I could still go shopping.  Ok, the coffee and hanging out with the teen are crucial parts, but still, there is also weekly shopping involved.

And it turns out that I have so much to say about shopping that this is going to be a two-part blog post – which is astounding me.  Part two tomorrow.

assorted clothes
Photo by Kai Pilger on






Watching them light up

One of the most fascinating aspects of parenthood is seeing the loves and passions that your offspring develop. In my very limited experience of only two offspring, they’re not the things that energise me.  And of course, they change all the time, at a sometimes alarming rate.

Sadly academic study has not always been one of those passions which fire up the offspring here. I say sadly only because they spend a fair amount of the year in academic study.  But some of that study does interest them, and I try and get them to see that in amongst the general complaints about having to attend school.  I guess many of us do jobs which don’t make us passionate.

One of the tricks of life for us all at any age is to indulge in the stuff that makes us feel awake and energetic.   Sometimes that can be the video games or the latest box set – however much I try and deny that in my parenting, there are phases when the newness of a game and the fact that all your friends are discussing it, is genuinely exciting.

That said, the inspiration for this blog is much more active.  One of the offspring gets hugely energised by skiing and we indulged that yesterday as a last-day-of-holidays treat.  The burst of energy he gets from the sport has definitely got him through the last day blues and even out of bed a couple of hours earlier than has been usual over the last couple of months.

It’s one of the most delightful things to see as a parent too – offspring totally focussed and refreshed and enthusiastic.  If only this particular passion were not quite so expensive.  And slightly more convenient in terms of geographic location. This could be yet another reason to consider that migration to Canada.

we were just about the only people who decided skiing is a good way to end the summer holidays