The title says it all, I think. Everything has ground to a halt. It’s no longer possible to try and make any plans because everything in the future is now prefaced by immovable IFs. If the restrictions have been lifted, if things haven’t got worse, if the pandemic is over… if, if, if. Our life as we know it is on hold indefinitely.
The first day of us all being at home. I go through the motions, still somewhat in denial at what is ahead of us in the coming weeks. Is this really happening? How is this going to work with one adult working long hours and two children going mental on the other side of the not soundproof office door?
I say a sad goodbye to the 2-month-old office desk that had finally freed me from sitting at the kitchen table. I start the endless daily dance of moving laptops and notebooks from desk to kitchen table, then stashing them around the living room during every meal before returning them to my lonely desk in the evening.
The first video conference work call for my husband goes well as the eldest bursts into the room, and announces that he’s a necromancer. Silver lining is that he’s at least wearing clothing. All participants agree that they also are necromancers. I resign myself to having to guard the office door at all times.
We go to the main street to see if it’s possible to pick up a takeaway lunch treat and are surprised to see that the cafe is open, full of customers, with their regular Saturday live musician playing. I cringe when an old lady comes over to ask if the gloves she has found belong to our children. Have so many people really not got the message about distancing?
People have not got the message. The mayor of Montreal applies 50% capacity restrictions to restaurants. Most cafes close down overnight, leaving only those restaurants that can quickly adapt to delivery of orders. The delivery drivers take their job seriously, dropping takeout bags and running for their car in fear that someone might approach to tip them in person.
The reality of keeping the kids entertained AND quiet so that someone else can work is proving… stressful. The 3-year-old has figured out that the ideal time to launch an attack on the office is when I go for a bathroom break. There’s no downtime at all anymore. The days are relentless. Nights are filled with anxious thoughts that block much-needed sleep.
The 3-year-old will not stop talking. At top volume. Unsurprisingly it turns out that constant loud noise is even more triggering for me when we are home every single day. I order ear defenders from Amazon. For the sake of my sanity, and his life. I don’t use them often, and only when I have been desperately trying and failing for more than ten minutes to write a coherent sentence. They are uncomfortable to wear, but they do lower the volume by about 50%. It helps a little just to know that they are there.
Homeschooling friends that we’ve rarely managed to see so far this year appear to be starting an online group. I shamelessly invite myself into the group because now is not the time to be shy. We join the first group Zoom call to share our Mo Willems doodles. It is chaotic, but it is social contact of some sort for the kids.
We live in a condo building with 6 apartments. Two older single ladies live in the top floor apartments. The AGM this year was a bloodbath. They do NOT get along. I ended up on the condo board as a reluctant compromise candidate. One of the ladies has been on a 2 week self-quarantine after a visit to NYC. She has seen the other lady standing outside the building this afternoon talking to someone and then bringing them into her apartment. She is furious. She wants to send official reprimands. The other board member is ready to pile on at this ‘inappropriate behaviour’. I can’t help wondering if their attitude would be a lot different if it were anyone else at all from the building. It’s not like anyone was licking the front door handle (though I wouldn’t put it past any of the children in the building). I lose several hours of my life talking the board members off their high horses, and reminding them that we ALL get deliveries in the common area. They agree to send a general email to the building suggesting we all apply some basic rules.
The other board members have reconsidered their position, and drop the entire thing. I suspect the exercise of writing an email to a larger group to try and tell them they should do what they are basically already doing, might have eventually seemed rather ridiculous. Condo civil war averted… for now.
It’s bloody freezing in Montreal. It’s miserable outside. Regardless, I begin to enforce a family daily walk rule. 15 minute walk around the block on mornings and afternoons where work meetings or zoom calls allow for it. The landscape is uninspiring, especially on bin collection day. It does count as fresh air and a little exercise. Even the sulky 7-year-old will stop resisting the excursions after a few days.
The skies are at least blue today. I drag the reluctant kids to the canal nearby and let them run in the icy dregs of melting snow until their boots and clothing are soaked through. The biting wind persuades them it’s time to return indoors. A successful socially distant outing.
Husband has started sleep-walking again, on top of the sleep-talking.
Thus we stumbled through a two week transition period into our new version of life. Have we adjusted to this new reality? No, not really. I am still a little shell-shocked. Mostly I am just resigned. Resigned to the fact that this is not a short-term situation, and the restrictions are only going to get worse in the next few weeks. We’ll find our way through it, or around it. Then we will have a different kind of transition period to look forward to. One where we will truly appreciate many simple things we had taken for granted up until now.