My mind is blank. I have no idea what I’m going to write about for the next 2 hours. It’s been such an emotional rollercoaster of a week that I’m struggling to compose something tangible.
Nothing bad had happened in fact, quite the opposite. Being in Regional Victoria we are able to send Frank to school for the first time in 3 weeks! I can imagine Matt at home right now making Frank's lunch while barking orders…
Go brush your teeth!
Get your school uniform on!
Put the cushions back on the couch!
No Nintendo until you're right ready!
It’s a routine that we are normally very good at but it takes a while to get back into the swing of things.
This is the third lockdown we have come out of in 8 weeks for Regional Victoria however instead of getting better at it, which is what normally happens when you repeat an activity over and over again, it feels harder each time.
Before I go any further I really have to acknowledge the extremely fortunate position we are in - we benefit hugely from daycares being open and prep-grade 2’s being allowed back at school. There are so many families, everywhere, that are still in a hard lockdown or even in Regional Victoria, who will be sending one sibling to school today and keeping another home. I wish everyone gained as much as we do from these restrictions being lifted.
When I watched Dan Andrews announce the lifting of restrictions in Regional Victoria on Wednesday this week I cried. I felt like a burden had been lifted. Matt and I have been trying to do our absolute best with homeschooling and balancing parenting and work but it is getting hard. My work has been picking up and so has Matts which has caused a few mega arguments about who is going to work and who will look after the kids. Neither of us can do both at the same time without sacrificing the quality of work or care so we’ve been parenting in shifts. It sucks.
Yesterday was RUOK day and I spent the whole day with the kids so Matt could get some quality hours in at work. I thought that the kids being able to go back to school and care would mean that our last full, lockdown day together would be fun! The sun was out and I was looking forward to the day.
However when I woke up I was angry. The kids were up and asking for the iPad at 6.15am. Alice refused to eat her breakfast. I had a quick meeting that was pushed out by half an hour. While I was in the meeting, the kids watched the iPad under the fitted sheets on Frank's top bunk while eating a blood orange! I then had to do an extra load of washing on top of the two I’d already done that morning. Frank refused to eat his lunch and they basically destroyed every room of the house they went into so I sent them outside.
Outside they made clay paint and painted Alice's legs with mud and Frank found an old saw that he used to attack a tree. Alice climbed up a tree, got stuck and then peed herself because she couldn’t get down. Fourth load of washing goes on. By this stage I’m over it. I stop folding the washing, cleaning up after the kids and sit on the porch in the sun to read a chapter of my book. I get about two pages in when both kids start to build a fort around me out of boogie boards and folding chairs. I literally scream.
I decided that perhaps a change of scenery is what we need, a walk to the supermarket to get lunchbox food since we are back on school lunches. The walk is pleasant enough, both kids have been warned that I’m not handling the day as well as I’d hoped so their best behaviour would be greatly appreciated. We all agree that if everything goes well then an icey pole when we get home will be the reward.
At the supermarket Frank insists on pushing the trolley with Alice in it which lasts for about 2 aisle before they accidentally crash into a shelf. I’m cross at myself for having let them do it in the first place and cross at them for crashing. After leaving the supermarket I need to go to the other side of the carpark to the bakery to get bread for the school sandwiches. The kids insist that they want to sit out the front of the supermarket while I go to the bakery. I agree, leaving them with a full shopping bag. I can see them from the bakery and it gives me 2 minutes to myself. I practice my box breathing.
When I return the kids have taken everything out of the shopping bag looking for something to eat. All the groceries are strewn across the grubby tiles covered in ciggie buts and god knows what else. I’m livid.
I calmly pack up the groceries and place them back in the bag, taking note that I have to double wash the tomatoes before using them for tonight's dinner. I pick up the bag and just start walking home. I don’t ask the kids to follow. In my mind I’m running away. I get as far as the driveway into the supermarket and wait so I can make sure the kids cross safely. The kids don’t care. They're horsing around giving each other piggybacks that last for a second before they collapse in fits of laughter. My silent protest and 4 minute runaway hasn’t affected them at all. They’re kids, why would it.
When I get home I ring my best “RUOK” friend and wait for her to ask me if I’m OK. I’m embarrassed because I’m not. I feel like I’ve just been gifted to ‘great relief’ with our restriction lifting yet still I’m so furious. Why am I still so angry?
Anger and anxiety are both caused by a loss of control. Anxiety left untreated often presents itself as anger. This is something I’ve discussed at length with my therapist considering anger was the reason I started to see her in the first place! I think what surprised me about yesterday was that my anger was caused by a seemingly positive change. The loosening of restrictions. We are finally able to send Frank to school and Alice can go to daycare next week - this is huge for us. Matt and I can start to work more regular hours and hopefully be a bit nicer to each other in the process. It's the going in and out of lockdown that is doing my head in. Even now as I write this I’m not convinced we won’t be back in lockdown again by the time school holidays start.
The one thing I did yesterday that really helped me was reaching out to a friend. After my hour and half long conversation I could laugh at the ridiculousness of the day. In my headspace app they often use the analogy of a blue sky. You know it’s always there but sometimes you have to see through the clouds or at least know that they will pass.
RUOK day is over for the year but I think it's something we need to ask each other more regularly. Reaching out for help when you need it or ringing up someone you haven’t spoken to for a while is really important right now. I consider it a vital part of maintaining my wellbeing and furthermore the wellbeing of others. If you're not OK then please tell someone. There are some great resources here.