No alarms clock needed to wake me up for work anymore. No rumble of the incoming early train, no shuffling sounds of people settling into their seats and taking out books or iPads or headphones for the duration of the commute.

No sounds of morning greetings of co-workers; instead I hear the morning greetings of my new office occupants. Aged five and three, they talk far less sense and demand far more of my time, but provide much funnier moments of office banter.

The whoosh of the letters arriving onto the hall floor, the gentle knock on the door of delivery workers bringing some excitement to an otherwise uneventful day; the excitement of wondering, what did we order again?

The reversing beeps of the waste collection trucks, manoeuvring themselves around all the cars that would normally be parked at offices or train carparks, instead, all at home.

The sounds of imaginations flourishing, games being invented, cardboard boxes being transformed into various vessels of adventure. The sounds of cries and shouts when someone plays the game ‘wrong’ or someone has a toy that might have been ignored right up until this very second, but is now the only toy in the house it seems.

Shouts of ‘Maaamaaaa I need the toilet!’ followed by a frantic run to the nearest bathroom by everyone, as we wonder again about our wisdom in deciding to toilet train. Another change of clothes it is.

The whoops of joy when it’s time to watch a movie, their favourite, followed closely by the sound of peace and quiet as I can savour a bit of calm for myself.

The sounds of quiet from all around… birds outside…were they always that loud? Neighbouring trampolines being bounced on… lawnmowers getting dusted off after a winter of hibernation. Barbeques being fired up in the evenings as we thank the skies again for another gorgeous day.

The ping of another news alert.

A different type of ping to welcome you to a virtual meeting. Shouts, mimes and gestures to ‘turn on your microphone……..!’ Now you have it.

Tears of frustration as demands are made of you from every direction. How many hats can one person wear?

Feelings of ambition as you decide to try a new project, and of triumph after you attempt it, even if it doesn’t look anything like the Pinterest version.

Thoughts of having days stretching out in front of you with no plans, and somehow, the days get filled. Hearing all the things you would have missed while the kids were in creche or in school; little conversations, ten thousand why’s, teaching them in more ways than one.

The feel of their little arms wrapped around your neck, squeezing as hard as they can, reaching further now than they did even a week ago. Growing up before your eyes. The feeling of happiness that you got to be there when the first tooth fell out, and got to share the excitement of wondering just how will the tooth fairy find it?

The sight of grey hairs appearing, where colour would normally hide. The feeling of not being as bothered as you thought you’d be… although knowing you’ll still beat a path to the hairdressers when the doors open again.

Sights of queues to get into shops, faces covered by masks. Socially-distant waves to familiar faces as we quickly move through aisles to only get what we need. No casual browsing

The thousand questions a day… ‘can we go..? can we visit…?…but why..?’, the feeling of wonder again at how amazing kids are. ‘Ok Mama’. Not really understanding, just fully accepting.

Lists being ticked off: books that had been on a list of things to read, movies and shows no longer in a wait list to be seen. Time to be still.

Walks in the woods, breathing in the smells of spring, watching the bluebells carpet the ground, the squirrels running up and down the trees, finding new paths in a familiar place.. noticing.

The sudden suspicion when the shouts and laughs and giggles suddenly go quiet.. deciding between enjoying the peace and not risking whatever it is that’s causing the sudden peace. You go and check.

The disappointment for the all things we don’t get to do now, the people we don’t get to see. The realisation of all the people, things, chances we took for granted.

Everyone at home. A new normal.

The wondering of what sort of life waits beyond these lockdown restrictions, and which old normals are gone forever?

And yet… a wary sort of gratitude for new realisations. New focus. Renewed priorities, new efforts to not take things for granted. New resolutions to focus on today and try not to worry about tomorrow. New abilities to see, feel, hear, listen..

..to staying 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.

3 replies on “Learning A New Normal

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