I read a statement this week that has really struck a cord with me, see what you think ? " choose happiness as best as you can, even if its imperfectly done". It made me think! That is exactly what we are all struggling to do. We are all working so hard as parents, carers, as families and as a community to make best of this odd world we find ourselves hurtled into. It also made me consider as a parent of a child with Autism that choosing happiness, even if imperfectly done, is what we do on a daily basis prior to our finely tuned and equally dynamic routines being SHATTERED over night. We adapt and we carefully choreograph a smooth path that hopefully leads to some sort of happiness and it maybe imperfectly done, BUT THATS OKAY !
I have been feeling particuarly stressed about getting my children to do any or some of anything that looks like school work. We have been managing big emotions as our children react to big changes but that has calmed thankfully. As I write this piece the sun is shining, the kids are fed, happy and content doing their things in different parts of the house and garden.We are content and that is an acheivement. As a family we have levelled out. Moving forward the plan will be to "Level-Up" and we will get there, but the emotional health and the resilience of my children is my priority. I will love them today so I can teach them tomorrow.
This week I realised what WE have lost during these last four weeks. We have lost YOU. The faces we see every day at the school , we have lost the "good mornings" the " whats the craic ?".
I miss waving to the St. Mary's Lolly Pop man on my way to work every morning, or waving to the Red Marshall Howes lorry on its way back from Belfast with our fresh fruit and veg.
I miss my Dry Arch Sure Start work family, I miss all the little faces I am blessed to see every day.
Normality is what I am missing, but what is it that I am feeling ?
It's grief! The world has changed and will be forever different. Something big is happening in the world and we are coping with trying to stay normal whilst keeping ourselves safe. We can't tell our children when this will end and as parents we dont have all the answers. This makes me sad, frustrated and tired. I try to remember to stay in the present, I try harder to not worry about those things I cannot control. The kids and I look to connect with those around us in any way we safely can. Going outside to clap for our NHS on Thursday nights hearing the community in unison cheering. The wee man singing outside his house and the world joining in and the neighbours who joined in singing with me as I hung the washing in the back garden . It is these connections and a new appreciation for what I took for granted that will get us as a family through this time of Lock Down.
Lets not forget laughter, we should try to remember to see fun and to raise each others spirits when we can. I was queuing for essentials at the shop at the bottem of the road. I joined the queue and I stood on my yellow painted foot prints. I couldnt help myself the temptation was too great, (I have been home for a brave while to be fair!). When it was time to move forward I had to do it - I had to try and jump the two meters to the next set of yellow footprints. Suddenly a very solemn line became a smiling chatting one and for a few minutes the world seemed like a happier place - we had to queue to get our groceries but we could still find out about our neighbours and have fun doing it.
At present our circumstances and challenges are open ended but temporary. David Kessler ( the worlds foremost expert on grief) tells us in a great article that "now is the time to over protect not over react", he writes that when this is all over we will continue to find meaning, and I believe a fresh outlook on the world around us and a newfound joy in simpler things and the people who make up our days.
So as I said at the start " choose happiness as best as you can, even if its imperfectly done".
So for now, we are a home in lockdown and we are loving each other through it (MOSTLY !)