My muscles hurt from exercise (thank you, Joe Wicks) and my head hurts from all the words that have been spoken to me all day. In this week in 2020, I count these as the blessings that they are.
We pull our clothes on before 7 every morning and head outside while there will only be a dog walker, or 4, to avoid. I have told the girls that the interlocking paths in the park are like a computer game, they cannot share a path with anyone else. They cycle joyfully, swerving left and right. “I’m on level 12!”, Imogen yells.
They spend an hour one morning scooting through puddles and under drips. Water is filling Olivia’s hood and running down her neck and she is happy. Last week I might have discouraged her. This week I see no better way to start the day.
They wonder at the early morning strangers I suddenly seem to ‘know’ – the ones who smile at me as they step off the footpath, the distant nod of solidarity, the wave across parallel paths.
My husband leaves for work, which is to say, he gets out of bed and sits down at a desk pushed beside the wardrobe.
My mum misses my phone call because she was on a Zoom meeting. These are very strange times.
The Art trolley becomes the Home School trolley. Imogen organises it. She is our commander-in-chief. Her teacher’s voice plays into the kitchen, giving her her instructions for the day. Olivia veers off topic every other minute, but we get there, in the end. They upload their work and sneak in emojis to their teachers before I catch them. They check the iPad later to find coloured ticks and stars and encouraging comments. On Friday they watch a video of their teachers on repeat.
I leave WhatsApp groups every other day. Feel guilty. Apologise. I learn from a friend that they can be muted. I didn’t know.
This is not a time to judge each other as we figure out our rhythms, our routines (or lack of them), our capacity for virtual interaction. This is a time for permission, and the distant nod of solidarity.
Stay in your cell, the Desert Fathers said, and your cell will teach you everything.
We do not know yet, all the things we will learn. But we stay, and nod, and pay attention.
(And maybe today, I’ll figure out Zoom).