Where to start.
I wrote recently about putting things off, like going to the dentist. I don’t like going to the dentist. Who does, I suppose? I’ve had a handful of kidney stones and three babies on gas & air but it would appear my sensitive teeth are my achilles heel.
Anyway. You all know how it goes. You put the dentist on the long finger and next thing you know you’re facing into the jaws of a root canal mid global pandemic.
Although a month ago I mightn’t have thought so, I can now atest that having a root canal, in the grand scheme of things, ain’t all that bad. The world’s perspective is both gradually and abruptly changing. My main concern was protecting both myself and the surgery staff from Covid 19 (they are doing a fantastic, fact-based & conscientious job and the Government still says it’s OK), because we are and have been taking social distancing extremely seriously. It is our number one moral imperative at the moment and the best thing we can do to stop the spread of this scourge, keeping more people healthy for longer. It’s the only bit of power we have, and power is everything in a time of utter helplessness. A lot of us are stressed – you don’t need me to spell that out here. And every stress, no matter how ‘small’, is valid. So any bit of power and empowerment is important.
The last week or so has been all about the memes, Mother’s Day with a bit of blue murder thrown in for good measure. The memes are starting to kill me (they’ve already obliterated the creaking memory on my phone) but they brighten up my day no end and are a great icebreaker when we fancy reaching out to somebody without starting a What’s App message with the side-head-droop ‘U ok hon?’. Mother’s Day is a strange one this year as we do the opposite of what we usually do when we want to celebrate loved ones – we will stay away. Most of us are feeling cooped up, fed up and oftentimes wound up – leading to the blue murder part amongst siblings, couples and housemates the length and breadth of the globe. So kind of like looking for the perks of a root canal (also a nice break from the house and kids I might add) you gotta look at what Mother’s Day can teach us in 2020.
And maybe it is this; that right now all we can do is be.
For those of us who are mothers to a young family, the kids are all home all of the time and over the course of a week we’ve seen a predictable arc of parenting play out – from hardcore homeschooling and crafting; through entertainment-exhaustion and shock at the demands for snacks; to the ‘let them at it’, who-cares-if-the-house-is-gone-to-pot phase. And let this be the phase we value most. Especially if you are one of those doing the super-human task of working from home while simultaneously attempting to keep the kids ticking over. An ex-work colleague of mine told me that everyone was getting accustomed to the sounds of children and dogs in the background of most work calls. How wonderful is that? How humane? Imagine if that peek into humanity behind the job became the norm? (Not the double-jobbing part, I mean more the flexibility to do your job while getting more balance with home life without fear of being reprimanded or undermined or side-lined. Imagine that!).
Look, it’s difficult not to ‘do’, because that’s what the modern world has taught us. We’re constantly being told to ‘do’ it all. But today, and for God knows how long, we will have little option but to focus on just being – being at home, being a work colleague, a partner, a neighbour, a parent or somebody’s son or daughter or friend. Be there, be available, be supportive. Rather than lunches or elaborate gifts and outings, this mother’s day there will be chats over gates and through windows and over the phone and much missing and fond wishes and promises for when we next meet. Mainly, there will be mothers being there for their kids and sons and daughters being there for their mothers. It’s all we can really do at this time – and yet never think that ‘being there’ is not more than enough. It is plenty.
Maybe, in the enforced stillness of our new reality, we’ll even be more cognisant than ever of those who have lost their mother.
True, this habit of being is a habit that we’re being forced to adopt. But we might just learn to appreciate it and take it with us beyond the time of this horrible, segregating virus.
If Covid 19 can teach me to have a fresh perspective on a root canal, anything is truly possible.
Social Distancing at Kilmacduagh. Right now all we can do is be.