As the curve flattens I realise I'll miss my kids when they go back to school
It appears we've reached what they're calling the "third quarter" of coronavirus lockdown. It's that time that we're all still knee-deep in lockdown lifestyle, which has become our new normal, but there is an end in sight in the middle distance.
We're in the daily swing of home schooling, but we know that within a couple of months, our kids will most likely be going back to school. Perhaps it will start with one or two days a week, but soon everything will return to the way it has always been, with our kids going to school five days a week.
The idea brings forth an unexpected emotion in me – it's making me quite sad.
It's a feeling that surprises me. I would be the last person to put their hand up to home school their kids, and have always quietly thought those that do so voluntarily are a little bit odd.
I mean, I love my kids, but why on earth would you volunteer to spend all day, every day surrounded by people who just want stuff all the time and, let's face it, don't care too deeply about what you want?
I'm someone that has always enjoyed going to work because it's an opportunity to sit still and drink coffee while it's still hot (and, you know, there's also the argument that it's more intellectually stimulating than talking about which Monopoly token would do you the most internal damage if you ate it).
I went back to work when my three kids were between four and nine months old, and each time, it wasn't a moment too soon.
I have never before found enjoyment in the domestic lifestyle, but this period of isolation has done something profound to my brain. It's slowed me down. It's stopped me spinning so fast from project to project, and it's made me look up from what's keeping me busy and focus on what's more important.
I haven't spent my time being overly concerned with home schooling. We've done our best here to adhere to curriculum, but I've taken a relaxed approach, in the belief that my kids are learning all the time, from a range of activities. We've played games, we've cooked and baked, we've gone for walks to the park to play tag and chase other people's dogs (so much easier than having your own). We've laughed and joked, and we've had lots of conversations we're usually too busy to have about a vast range of life's minutiae.
And through all of this I've discovered something that has shocked me to my core: I genuinely like my children as people.
I know, right?
Not because it's my job to like them, as their mum, but because each of them is an interesting, unique and endlessly entertaining person.
As someone who is usually busy, and who functions at a reasonably high stress level at all times, this period of COVID lockdown has provided me with an opportunity to slow down and to reconnect with my family in a way I never would have otherwise. And one I certainly never would have chosen.
So, even though I seldom get more than 15 minutes of work done at a time right now, and I can rarely hear myself think over the school videos and chatter among my kids, this period of isolation together has taught me to embrace a bit of instability and uncertainty, and to focus on what's directly in front of me (often literally).
The connections I have with my three children have become stronger than ever and, while I hope we can maintain them when they go back to school, I fear our busy lives will once again take over and we'll become like ships in the night as we rush through breakfast to get out the door, or race around between extra-curricular activities.
And while I won't yearn for a time when a global pandemic wreaked such havoc and caused such loss for many, I will always remember this slowed-down time with my children fondly. And for now, I'll keep savouring each moment as much as I can.