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Lockdown, Motherhood and Furbabies

It has been over 18 months since we first went into a lockdown. I made the conscious choice then not to home-school my two older boys. This was back in March 2020 which seems like a lifetime ago now.

Sahan had only just started school for the previous month. If I add up the lockdowns and school holidays since, both him and Arjun have spent more time off school than at school. This is the same for so many. Right now, children are starting school on Zoom with no end for when this will end. This is our longest stretch of lockdown to date.

The variables I am juggling as a business owner and mother of three are still the same. If not higher, as the boys individual emotional needs are greater. Ray was just a baby at four months old when this thing first hit. Now he is a fully fledged two-year-old. My oldest son, Arjun has struggled the most. He is a highly sensitive child feeling everything at full volume. Overnight all the things he loved and looked forward disappeared into the COVID vortex….and I have been unable to tell him how long it will be for. School, friends, basketball and even his birthday all got cancelled. I navigated his birthday as best as possible but there was still a moment when it all came out. He has told me how angry, sad, frustrated and upset he has felt. How much he misses his friends. My heart breaking as he tells me….and yet also relieved that he can communicate this to me…..letting it out even if it hurts my very core to hear it. There is no blueprint how to navigate this pandemic as parents.

 

My business and work are classified as essential. I am beyond grateful for this. While my massive 20 city tour was cancelled it feels a small price to pay compared to what other businesses have had to endure. It has meant that I still get to work as well – and work not in the home. The flip side however has meant the tear between work and home has become enormous. There is no balance. No juggle of the puzzle pieces that fit. It has been constant sacrifice on all sides.

As this lockdown has dragged on and the reality that my older boys might have six months or more off school I have wondered if I had made the right choice in terms of homeschooling. All those motherhood fears which never seems to go regardless of how old my boys get, have creeped it – will they be behind? Will they miss out? Is everyone else still managing homeschooling after all this time? How do I keep proritising all three of their different emotional needs? How do I keep a business going, staff employed, a household run and somehow keep my own fatigue in check too?

That feeling of failure in every area so palpable.

Holding true to what works for your own child or children and family is one of the hardest parts of motherhood. More so when that path is against the social norms or expectations. As a working mother and someone who has taken little to no time off work after giving birth this is a path I am familiar with….and yet it still gets me.

Last night I got the reassurance I so desperately needed.

As many of you know I got a new puppy, called Chloe just before lockdown happened. She has been a slice of hope and joy through all of this. Arjun and I had attended one puppy training session when we first got her, and then, like everything else, this got put on hold. Last week, we finally got the green light these could continue outdoors again. To be honest they are not just about providing puppy training but the structure of this and more importantly time for Arjun and I to have together. This is more so now as it is virtually impossible for him to get time with me on his own without his brothers during this lockdown and while I juggle work too.

It was everything I hoped it would be. Summer nights meant it was warm and light. The half an hour drive there and back meant more time for us to just talk. The stimulation of learning something different was good for both of us. In all honestly it was also good for me to have a break from the house that was not work.

Oh, and yes it was helpful for Chloe too!

The real magic of this came when we got home. All on his own accord Arjun started writing out a story about puppy training. He checked some spelling with me as he did this. He spoke about certain descriptive words and things his teacher at school would suggest he do with his writing. All I could hear in this was that his education was not lost. He was not behind or missing out….all the things I had been worrying about. He did some writing about something he was passionate about and found enjoyable – in his own time and at his own pace.

As a mother and as someone who has been writing for over a decade now, I wish I could tell you just what this meant to me. It was not about the writing but about how happy he was doing it. It was even just seeing him so content. I knew in my heart of hearts then that the choice I had made – the choice which ultimately in Arjun’s case prioritised other needs and other forms of learning that work better for him outside of school – was the right one.

You do not get a lot of moments in motherhood. But the ones you do get mean everything. Earlier this year I also wrote about running with Arjun. These two things – running and our furbabies have kept both of us going through this time.

Doing what is right for your family is so hard. I keep thinking that one day it will get easier but as I keep going down this motherhood journey, and like many of you are now stumbling through motherhood in a global pandemic….perhaps we just have to keep doing those right things and that in turn will help teach our children to do that too.

x Dr Julie


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