Does anyone really feel that they are doing life well at the moment?
I certainly don’t.
I am acutely aware that I am one of the lucky ones who has a job during this epic global catastrophe. This being said, the teaching profession is completely and utterly under the microscope. While most students are learning from home, and I only have a handful physically present in the classroom, I honestly feel like I have never worked so hard in my life. The role as I have known it for the last twelve years has been transformed drastically in such a short space of time, and I, along with those around me, continue to frantically paddle underneath the surface simply trying to keep up.
Add to this that my own family, myself included, continue to be higher maintenance than usual, and my head feels like it is well and truly clamped in the proverbial vice.
Like everyone else, we are frustrated, bored, restless, and completely and utterly bumfuzzled by this whole ordeal and the drastic effect it has had on our lives.
I have not written for a while – for these reasons amongst others – so I thought I would post an update about what has been happening in our house over the past couple of months.
The noise and chaos, while not directly responsible, has contributed to fourteen year old Miss D deciding to spend most of her time in the more tranquil, less tumultuous environment of her other house.
It seems like the status quo in my house: once you reach the golden age of fourteen you can invoke the ‘Opt out’ clause and hightail it to the less chaotic sanctuary of ‘the other house’.
The up side of having a split family I guess. And let’s face it – any house is going to be more quiet than ours, which is relatively small and has seven people and two dogs residing at it. When I think about it rationally, I know that I would have run screaming from the drudgery of siblings and helping out with them had there been any opportunity for this in my childhood. I know too well the responsibility of being the eldest girl amongst a large family. I have tried not to burden Miss D with this same gravity of personal responsibility, but it just seems inevitable. So, along with her new fluffy puppy at the other house, she can enjoy the quiet and more studious environment that beckons for a while.
I will, of course, survive.
Yes it feels like a knife through my heart, but yes I will survive.
We see Miss D now every second weekend, most of which she spends – as most teens do – in her room. I hate it, yet the reality is that I am honestly working so much right now that I don’t feel like I have much to give anyone anyway. I hate myself for saying this, but it is true. We eat dinner together, have a few laughs and then I return to marking and planning online lessons, throwing the odd distracted comment or reading the occasional book or two to kids in between.
Miss L, who is almost three now and seemingly nocturnal, destroys any chance of peace and quiet Lis and I get by riding her noisy little toddler bike up and down the hallway until all hours singing at top note as we try and steal an hour to watch a show together.
I can’t blame her – she wants attention and doesn’t understand why I could possibly want her to go to bed when I haven’t seen her all day. It doesn’t sit well with me either so I don’t force the issue. It is nothing for her to be awake at 10pm. As I write this I am cringing as I know too well how very short these precious years are and how rapidly they slip by.
Master Z, who is now sixteen, has, like Miss D, decided for now that having only one house is easier. He basically lives with us full-time at the moment. Much to his disdain, he has also returned to school full-time. Currently employed by both McDonald’s and Bunnings, he is making the most of the absence of sports training and games to save for a car. Like others in the retail industry, his hours at McDonald’s were reduced to weeks of nothing until very recently, so during this hiatus and thanks to a wonderful friend, he secured a casual position at Bunnings.
Like most teens, he spends most of his time in his room, so the social impact of COVID-19 was turning him into a recluse. I for one am glad he is back to school.
Master M has shot up and kicked up his eating habits as a result. Feeding and entertaining these kids has become such a mammoth job. Groceries that used to last us a fortnight are flat out lasting a week.
The two little boys continue to grow like weeds – highly active and boisterous ones, and keeping them physically active during the pandemic has involved some very creative thinking.
Without an outlet, they simply resort to bickering and wrestling, where inevitably Master C, the smaller of the two, ends up in tears. Whilst usually a source of intense antagonism for one another, my younger boys have recently bonded over their discovery of ‘Roblox’. While I still feel Master C is a bit young to be playing it, it is hard to deny him when Master M, who is almost ten, talks about it incessantly. He knows all about it as he plays it at his other house. My parenting standards seem to have lowered considerably of late, as I have just given in and let them both play. Without the Ipads, I am ashamed to say, we would not have survived these last few months. YouTube time has become a ‘currency’ with the boys too – one that keeps them adhering to the straight and narrow even more precisely than cold, hard cash.
So as you can see I am far from kicking goals in the parenting stakes right now. It’s more a case of ‘sit tight and don’t lose it’ whilst keeping all those juggling balls in the air.
I’m really hoping it isn’t just me…