Everything feels so tough right now. I feel guilty for making a choice to turn the news off. Guilty I have the option to turn off something that is making me anxious when people are living it, not able to turn it off or escape. Guilty for seeming to care more about this crisis than any others in recent times, just because it’s closer to home.
Guilt hits me square between the eyes for my feelings in general too. A voice inside shames me for being cross when I ask the children to put their shoes on for the thousandth time. They get to put their shoes on and go to a school to learn without fear of bombs falling on their heads.
Every cough or sneeze in the night makes me sit bolt up right in bed, did it have a covid ring to it? Do we have enough tests to test the whole family? How many days do we keep them off again if it is the dreaded “c” word? The winter colds are knocking us off our feet every other week it seems but the relief at seeing that single line on the test is incredible. Relief starts at my forehead and trickles down to my toes as a wave of elation being ridden by a surfer of relief. I even welcomed the chicken pox with open arms a few weeks ago. What a weird world we live in right now.
As the cloud lingers over us all, I’ve noticed the children are darker in their questions too. Wilf references death or dying at least once a day, sometimes in a very profound, philosophical way, other times in a graphic, more morbid way. I’m never ready to parent this conversation but after school read “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst to the children, it is definitely easier. I highly recommend this book as a lovely way of making young children feel more comfortable. It actually even helped me as I have a beautiful image of a string between myself and my grandfather now.
So through my guilt fuelled haze I remembered that in times of sadness and crisis, unplugging from the world can do wonders for the soul. As a busy parent, reading for myself is bottom of the pile and often when there is time, I am far too tired. I therefore decided that whilst my eldest read each night, I would sit in his room and read a novel too. We set the timer for 30 minutes and sit in silence as we both read our own books. We then have a little time discussing what has happened (to make sure he hasn’t just stared at the same page for 30 minutes!) The first night we did it I was so gutted when the timer went off, I will admit I cheated and sneaked a few extra pages alone the next day. I relished that old, familiar feeling of complete desperation to keep reading through tired eyes to know exactly what happens next. My brain making the visual pictures of each character rather than a screen telling me what people look like.
I slept better, I felt less anxious and it was amazing to hold a book in my hands again with my phone out of reach. My eldest absolutely loves our time in “book club” together and it is a really special time for just the two of us to connect through the silence.
So if you too just feel a bit naff right now and then feel guilty for feeling naff when we are just witnesses, this blog post is for you. I urge you to find a quick half an hour to unplug a day, even on those days when you really don’t have time as that’s when you need it most.