Isolation Day 8 – behind closed doors

we are getting used to this new life.  I have the office set up in the back bedroom, work is work, home is home, all is well.  We are at times getting tetchy with each other, little things that are unimportant suddenly feel large.   Time without others focuses us on each other I guess.  We are still laughing though so all is well.

We have been spending time in the garden, potting seeds in preparation for planting, and planting up potato sacks, these acts give us faith that Summer will follow Spring, that, in the end, all will be well.

It is lonely though, and a bit odd, each morning I look out onto our street and see no one moving about.  Cars that are usually gone in daylight remain sat on driveways, this is good, people are doing what is needed, but everyone seems to be invisible.  Online life goes on, a few new groups to join, positive posts, music and friendship across the WiFi, but isolation is isolating, we do at times feel alone, the lost connection with others obvious in it’s absence.

Last night we settled, as most nights, to watch the updates from government, to see how this story is developing.  I am reminded of Mum telling us how the whole family would gather around the radio to hear the news from the front.  Is this a war?  It feels a little like it, here we all are, behind closed doors, keeping the germs at bay.

The news reader at seven o’clock is talking about a national clap and cheer for the front line warriors in this battle.  Our nurses and doctors, and all the helping services, fighting on the front line to help those who are poorly.  These are our troops, in this war of our time, the people who will make the biggest difference.  Stand in your garden, at your window or on your doorstep and cheer, he said.  Show our appreciation for the troops that heal not harm.  I wasn’t sure, hubby less so than me.  It won’t happen here, he said.  Thinking about the closed doors and the empty street I was inclined to agree.  But you never know.

At the appointed hour I duly opened the front door, ready to cheer or retreat, doing it alone would be weird, right?  I had no idea what was about to happen.  The noise came from all around, darkness meant the people were unseen, but the cheering and the whooping and the clapping, well it was just joyous.  Hubby joined me and together we clapped and whooped and made a noise, our noise joining with others making a magnificent sound, suddenly our street was not empty at all.  Instead the blank front doors and curtained windows were hiding people, just like us, and in a moment everything felt like it was going to be ok.  The emotion was extraordinary and unexpected.  Tears falling I found myself laughing and crying at the same time.

Later back in our living room we watched as the same experience was shared from across the country.  Dozens of messages, videos and posts showing the same emotions at the same time.  It really made me think.  This country of ours is divided as never before, families have struggled with each others views, nationally the fight for who we are and what we want has played out across the media until most of us are unsure which way is up.  Then here we are, all alone and actually all together.

No one knows how long this will last, but this morning when I looked out at the street, instead of feeling lonely I realised that behind each door is a family just like us, and maybe just maybe this shared experience will bring us closer together the longer we are apart.

Keep safe everyone, and wash those hands.


Isolation Day 6

Day Six dawns, sunny as yesterday, it is as if the world is showing off, telling us that despite mass pandemic fever amongst us humans, well nature has got this.  Seeds are sprouting, flowers are colourful, it feels like every other Spring, only perhaps a little brighter.

Meanwhile I am alternating between feeling sunny and joyful at this weather and the time at home to enjoy it, and totally losing the plot.  One minute I am completely convinced I have the virus, it is sitting dormant, waiting to explode and infect my lovely hubby, and the next I am playing old tunes and dancing around the kitchen as if I have not a care in the world.  There is no logic in this, it just is how it is, perhaps I shall get used to it.

Working from home, I am learning about conference calls; you need the right numbers or you end up in the wrong meeting. You have to pay careful attention to voices as you work out who is speaking, with none of the usual visual clues, and many co workers with the same accent, this is tricky, but doable.  I am learning about routines or more importantly the lack of them, about how the twenty minute commute to work was a time of preparation, when I would leave home behind me and focus on the day ahead. As my current commute involves coming downstairs and into the dining room there is less transition time!  I am up to date with all the daft tasks.  My inbox is ordered, tidy folders holding all the useful stuff and messages from two years ago finally deleted.  I am doing the important stuff too, but somehow without colleagues to chat to and share information, without regular brews and contact with young people, well it all feels very odd.

Hubby is doing ok,  yesterday he began mowing the lawn, the first cut of the year, and usually a time of great hope, summer is beckoning we are getting ready.  I checked on my seedlings and rearranged the patio chairs so they would catch the most sun.  It struck me that we only need two chairs, for I have no idea when we will once again fill our house with friends.  That feels a bit odd

Well, work won’t do itself, so I am off to fire up the technology and carry on, it is all we can do.  Except look after ourselves and each other, keep our spirits up and wash our hands.


on Isolation – Day One

It is a beautiful day here in North Wales, the sun is streaming in through the windows, the trees in the garden are looking green again as the Spring growth is replacing Winter’s sleep.  It is Friday morning and normally I would be on the road by now, driving alongside the coast waiting for the moment I turn the corner and see Snowdonia lay in front of me.  I am sure this morning the sunlight will be bouncing from the peaks, perhaps a little of the snow is still on the top like frosting on a cake.  Sadly I will not be making that journey for some time.

A few weeks ago, self isolation, was used only in terms of those introverts amongst us, and I admit at times I do have these tendencies.  To stay home with a good book, what can be better?   Overnight our language has changed, panic buying, isolation, social distancing, this is now normal life.

Yesterday I did my last session in school, health concerns for me and my family mean I am to stay home in safety for many weeks.  Luckily I can work from home, the world is electronic, we can all communicate, just in different ways.  We have food enough in the kitchen, and a lovely house.  We have got this, it won’t be hard.

My first afternoon and I had the disinfectant out.  Manically scrubbing every surface, I want to wipe away the outside world, make all new and safe inside.  Hubby seems somewhat confused, it is not normal behaviour from me.  I have always subscribed to the the ‘good enough’ mode of housekeeping, but not any more.  The threat of a virus sitting on surfaces has sent me into meltdown. On waking this morning I was struck by how clean everywhere smells.  This is good thing.

The day progressed well enough, lots of work to be done, people to talk to, to reassure that even in this new world order, they won’t be forgotten.  Tonight we get the news that social places are to close, I am glad for that, the sooner everyone retreats into safe places, the sooner we will get a hold on this.

We have at least another twelve weeks of life apart together, keep safe everyone, keep washing your hands!!



for mothers everywhere

Today is the 36th year I have been a Mother on Mothers Day, and the 37th year I have not had a Mum myself to spoil on the day. Becoming a Mum within six months of losing a Mum was a difficult thing to deal with.  A first baby is as terrifying as it is amazing and to not have the one person who has shown you what a Mum can be beside you is a challenge.  Those first months of the ‘happy/sad’ moments, anniversaries without Mum, and firsts with darling son, all are jumbled and mixed in my memory. I got through it, made up as much of the Mothering I could, and eventually managed to raise four wonderful children into functioning and thoughtful adults.  This alone amazes me.  Today, on Mothers day we will be together apart, messages and phone calls will suffice.

One year my daughter sent me a card which read, ‘sometimes I need a Mum and sometimes I need a friend, thanks for always knowing which one I need you to be!’ This made me think about the value of a Mum who can also be a friend, and how this can be so.

When I became a Mum I was always clear that I did not want to own my children, that I did not want to control them, beyond the necessary controls to keep them safe and well.  I was influenced by The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran, who says, ‘your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself, they come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you,.. you are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

This has always made sense to me, the thought that I can influence and inform, can care and comfort but the belief that I must let them be their own person.  This has proved challenging over the years.  Maybe I should have been firmer, I could, perhaps, have stopped them making some mistakes, but then they would also have missed the learning that surely follows each wrong choice.  I have been there to mop up tears, to celebrate success and in truth I wouldn’t change a thing.

My Mum’s mothering was very different to mine, and I understand totally her need to keeping us safe and instructing us in the ways of the world.  She did a great job.  Every time I am faced with a difficulty, which has been often over the years, I can hear Mum’s voice telling me to keep trying and to never give up.  When I have been challenged beyond my imagination, I have felt her beside me, calmly and patiently helping me through.  Memories of childhood are all about Mum and Nina, Mum’s mum who lived with us.  They had a tempestuous relationship, but between them they ensured that my sister and I had a real sense of how women can achieve and how we can be the people we want to be in the world. For this I thank you Mum, you gave me a great gift.

So this is being a Mother.  Sometimes you are a Mum, and sometimes you are a friend, Always you will be the one who loves unconditionally, who forgives and forgets, who supports and celebrates success.  You are also the one who spends hours thinking about your children, who pointlessly worries about each of them, for in thirty odd years I have learned that me worrying does not alter anything at all.

You are also the one who can stand in your kitchen surrounded by adults, all taller than you, and listen to the discussions, the laughter the friendship between those people who are your children, and you can feel the love in the room.

Happy Mothers Day to all the amazing Mothers out there.  It is a tough gig, being a Mum, but one that pays more than all the treasure in the world.