As the fiftieth chorus so far today of ‘Happy Birthday’ rings through the house as the kids wash their hands, I can’t help but think yet again of how strange our lives feel, and how quickly the change came. The new normal, apparently. New ways of doing things, a new way of living, an overnight gift of time together, whether we wanted it or not. Strangers to our own lives.

Slow mornings are now the order of the day, followed by slow afternoons and evenings too. Slow, and somehow chaotic at the same time; nowhere to go and yet the days are full of energetic kids, bouncing off the walls and asking ‘where are we going today, Mam?’

Slow, unknown, surreal.

One day, things were normal. Rushed, fast, packed full of I’ll Get Around To That’s and I’ll Do It Someday’s. I’d give anything for a day off, I used to think. How we’d love to lock the doors, and

Let’s Stay Home.

The sounds of these strange times – singing handwashes, questions of Why Can’t We, and When Can We on repeat.

Sounds of kids in gardens, grass getting cut. Windows opening and closing, conversations over fences.

The quiet of no alarm clocks waking us up for work, no rush hour traffic.

Noises of the incoming scary news alerts – alerts and warnings, stats and pleadings – protect yourselves, protect eachother…

Let’s Stay Home.

Sometimes it even feels nice. Being forced to slow down, reconnect, go back to basics. And then you remember why it’s happening, and it doesn’t feel any way nice at all. Jobs are disappearing overnight, people are dying.

The worries that follow us now, at the backs of our mind, flow over us as we think about our most vulnerable, our friends and families.

Past promises of, we’ll do that soon, we’ll catch up again. How casually we took things for granted! Giving hugs, calling in. Inviting over, eating out.

A gift we thought we wanted, and even sometimes that we’re a little bit glad we have, even though it comes with a heavy price – a constant tightness in our chest, fear and worries following us overhead, keeping a close eye. A threat to all of us, and yet still, a gift of time together.

Sights of…cars in driveways. Queues for shops, empty schools. People waving to eachother from across the street. Sights of headlines, stats, questions, directions telling us…

Let’s Stay Home.

Thoughts of… how will I do this today? What will I tell them? How can I do it all? Full time mother, part time worker, teacher, all at once. Thoughts of… did I do enough? What else can we do?

Let’s Stay Home.

Feelings of… how we’re living through something historic. Years from now we’ll think of these extraordinary, unfamiliar days, but what will we remember of them? The stillness and quietness, the uncertainty and fear. We’ll remember where we were the day the schools and offices closed, the day we were told to just..

Stay Home.

The silver linings… the kindness and absolute bravery of others, the willingness and selflessness to help. The gift of time we otherwise would have missed – the conversations to have, the things to learn and re-learn; what is important and what is not. The new perspective we’ve all been given, the privilege we had and the arrogance to not even know we had it.

It feels as if the world is restarting and that nothing will be the same again. What sort of world will we have when this is over? I hope it will be one where we finally know what to appreciate, and who. The front line workers in this, all of them. All of them taken for granted before all this, striking and fighting for things just to be fair. I hope that never has to happen again.

I hope we learn – and remember – just what is important, and who.

Thoughts of… what will they remember? When the kids don’t even understand what’s happening, or why, what will they remember of this? I hope they remember the time together, this new normal. A strange window of time that none of us have ever experienced before, the feeling that we’re all in it together. That time we hugged eachother, played games, read stories, watched movies, painted stones, went for walks, minded eachother and just…

Stayed Home.

Posted by:Jen Ryan

I'm Jen, 30-something, married, Mam of two little Munchkins, 2 dogs, Irish, red-haired and actual genius. (May not be true). I love Photography, cheesy stuff (including the music), fond of a cup of tea or two, although since the Munchkins arrived and taught me that sleep is for the weak, coffee is currently in top position.

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