Silver Linings In Dark Clouds

I’ve been trying to stay positive today. I’m sure you have too. I feel better prepared for home-schooling now and will blog about that when it kicks off on Monday. Two of my children finished school today. One is in Year 11, which is GCSE year in the UK. She is worried about the exams being scrapped and sad she will not have a leaving prom and all the other rites of passage events that happen to mark this time. We will keep her busy and get her through it. I had a spooky trip to Tesco which was odd to say the least, mainly because of the social distancing enforced at the tills by tape and the constant announcements about only being allowed two of each item and verbal and physical abuse of staff not being tolerated. Talk about an uneasy shopping trip. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the possible positives that could come out of it when we get to the other side. I think it’s helpful to try to find silver linings so here are six of mine;

  • Mother Nature will get a chance to heal. There have already been some incredible and uplifting scenes of this happening. Clear water, less pollution, dolphins swimming in the waterways in Venice due to the lack of tourists, blue skies in China and so on. Where I live I have already noticed a remarkable reduction in traffic. I can only imagine the benefits to air quality and to wildlife.
  • We will realise how precious our planet is and look after it better. I really hope so. Perhaps while we are all forced to slow down and just stop what we are doing, we will realise that we can change things and that for all our sakes, we should. Perhaps with no work, no school , no rushing around, we will find the time again to hear the birds, to notice the trees, to smell the flowers as Spring starts to blossom. I hope a new appreciation for nature starts to build.
  • We will realise there were parts of our lives we didn’t like and we will change them. Often, we don’t have a choice, I know that. You need money to pay the bills, to keep the roof over your head and food on the table. But maybe this whole experience will allow people to work out what they like and don’t like about their lives. If they enjoy working at home, maybe they can make the case for doing this? If they prefer home-schooling their children, maybe they will switch to it for good? If they find themselves less stressed, less tired, less worn out by life itself, who knows? Maybe some of us will change our entire lives.
  • We will live healthier lives. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Have you seen the empty shelves in the shops? It’s all the healthy stuff being grabbed and stockpiled. If you go down the crisps, chocolate and sweets aisle, there is plenty of that! People are grabbing the fruit and vegetables, the tinned goods and packets of pasta and rice. They are leaving the bars of chocolate and packets of crisps and sweets. I know that’s probably because they want to stay healthy to have a better chance of fighting the virus, but who knows, it could change things. Maybe people will notice how much better they feel without eating so much sugar and they will endeavour to have a healthier diet after it’s all over. I imagine being in isolation or lockdown will also make people realise how essential and therapeutic exercise is too.
  • We will recognise the true heroes in this and treat them better. I’m talking about the teachers who have been so amazing throughout, offering support and guidance preparing packs of work and online content, so many of them giving time on the Internet to provide free resources. We would be lost without them. And you know what? Give us parents a few days of home schooling and we are going to have a new found appreciation, hero worship even, of our children’s long-suffering teachers. I’m talking about the care workers and NHS staff, utter heroes who have been underpaid and overworked for so long now, yet here they still are, risking their lives to help us. I’m talking about the police, the firefighters and the army, also doing all they can to keep us safe. And what about the postal workers and the delivery drivers? We are becoming even more reliant on ordering online and these often very poorly paid workers are saving our arses and our sanity. And not forgetting a group of people who are also poorly paid and often looked down on by society; the shop workers, shelf stackers and till workers. I’ve done those jobs before and believe me, the general public can be extremely obnoxious towards them. But look now…these people are running themselves ragged trying to keep the food on the shelves. My husband is one of them and I can tell you, he is shattered. I hope that when this is all over we respect these workers more, we pay them more money and we realise that we are all connected, all reliant on each other for survival and we are all important!
  • I hope we become kinder and realise and remember that we are all in this together. In recent years, we have become less kind. We have turned inwards, thought of ourselves and feared others, while we have allowed the true demons to run amok. The politicians have done a super job of turning us against each other, haven’t they? This is, of course, to distract us from what they are up to, but we won’t go into that now. Let’s just say I hope this brings us closer together. Perhaps now we have feared for our lives, been separated from our loved ones, lost our jobs, had to queue for basic food and feared for our homes, we will have more empathy and understanding towards those who flee their countries to seek a safer life.

That’s me trying to find the silver linings and I truly believe there will be some. Of course, we have to get through this with our health and sanity intact first! What about you? Do you think this event will change things in the long-term? Feel free to leave a comment!

From Summer to Autumn, From Baby to Boy

You can’t see changes as they happen.

You only really see it once it’s gone. One moment it’s glorious summer. The grass is dry, the day is long, and everywhere you go it is bright, and green. From the twisty lane, stuffed tight and expanding quickly with ferns, nettles, sorrel and blackberry. To the rows of Oaks and Sycamores, filling the skyline, creating a wall of green, a canopy of leaves. And then suddenly it’s Autumn. The nights are drawing in. The mornings begin to chill. And it’s the same with you. Because there is no straight line between baby and boy. There is no sudden, glaring realisation, only a season of subtle, bitter sweet changes.

As August made way for September, it seemed like the leaves were in a hurry to come down, as was the rain. On the first day of the new Autumn month, we picked leaves up from the lane. You carried them one by one and placed them in the bottom of the buggy. I told you we could stick them to some paper when we got home, to make a tree, and you said ‘yes, mummy’ and ‘deedo, mummy.’ I’m not sure when you will start saying thank you, but I do know you will forever be remembered for saying deedo.

I told you that the leaves were slowly falling from the trees, and you listened and said ‘yes mummy’. Blackberry season is in full swing, the lane bursting with their ripe, purple black colour. We picked some on our walk. You helped me fill a small, round tub, and on the way home, you stood on the back of the buggy and ate half of them. I watched your little hand go in time after time, and when I lifted you down, your lips and cheeks were smeared with purple. You kept saying, ‘one more, one more!’

And I realised how much you have changed over the summer.

My little baby has become a little boy.

Out in the garden you wanted more leaves for your picture. I hung out the washing while you picked them up. Then we stood and watched as the huge sycamore released them, one by one. I picked you up and we listened, hearing the rustle and the shush as each leaf fell in turn through the others, to land softly on the grass. I think we were both amazed by how quickly they fell, by how abruptly Summer must make way for Autumn.

I looked at the deflated paddling pool lying limply over the roof of your playhouse. It’s waiting to be washed and stored away. It made me think of all the long, summer days of bare feet on dry grass, of sticky ice cream faces and water fights.

Already there is a chill in the air first thing in the morning. We await the first frost. The vegetable garden is still producing, but we sense a panic. We marvel daily at the size of the biggest pumpkin and look forward to picking and carving it for Halloween.

After you finished your picture, you helped me make a fruit crumble. Apples and pear and rhubarb and blackberries. The smells of early Autumn bubbling on the stove. ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ springs to mind, and yes everything seems full and ripe and bursting with life, determined to beat the Winter clock. To remain outdoors for as long as we can.

This summer made so many changes to you, and next summer will make even more.

You entered the ┬ásummer a baby and you left it a boy. You started to say mummy, instead of mum-mum. You decided you didn’t want to wear nappies any more, so now you wear pants like a big boy. And then last week, you decided to go to sleep without being breastfed, something I had once thought impossible! You seemed restless, confused, then giggly. So I suggested we cuddle instead, and we did, and that was…that.

Another moment moved on from, another memory formed. Another time of our lives we will never get back again. I lay there every night after that, holding you tight, smiling while I blinked back tears.

You know all of your colours, even grey, purple and black. You try to count things. You like to point at letters and repeat back what I say. You just want to grow up so quickly! You say you are ‘gig’ because you’re not too great with ‘b’. And you like to pack your little bag and declare that you are going to ‘dool’, like your big brother and sisters.

In a few more weeks the trees will be bare. The lane will be covered with dead leaves and the weather will be colder still. The blackberries will be over and the acorns gathered by hungry squirrels. The trees will look so different, always black and silhouetted against the winter sky, beautiful and haunting in equal measures. Summer will seem like a distant memory, as will your babyhood.

Sometimes the hardest thing about life is that we can never go back. New days lurk without warning, new seasons push their way forward, and we never have any choice but to go keep moving. You can’t ever go back, that’s the thing.

 

I love the change of seasons. The end of something and the start of something new. Now is the time I start to feel the childish tingles of Christmas anticipation. But first there is Halloween and Bonfire Night, and I’m already getting excited on your behalf. So much more fun to be had. So many more memories to make.

I can’t help looking ahead to next summer. Wondering how much clearer your speech will be. Wondering what sort of conversations we will be able to have. Wondering what you favourite toys will be. And it seems impossible! Yet I know it will be here in a blink of an eye.

And it’s always sad, yet wonderful and magical, watching you change with the seasons.