The Playful Den


The grim family reality of catching covid

My family and I have all just had covid.

Well 2 parents, 1 toddler confirmed positive one very poorly middle child who we assumed had it but continually tested negative and the eldest who seems to have some kind of super immunity and has just had a case of the grumps having missed out on movie days and sunny garden afternoons. Thank god for this sun, actual medicine. We are at the end game of it all now awaiting one more single line test but I have to say, I’m struggling to ‘bounce back’. I don’t know why but I’ve found it possibly more stressful than anything this pandemic has thrown so far. Perhaps it’s the timing of it, our bodies remember don’t they? Its 2 years almost exactly when it all started – it all just a bit groundhog day? Or is the realisation that you think everything is normal and then you see that second line and realise you’ve still been living in the upside down all along. That relentless feeling of it all is what it so draining. I was curious to read this article in the Guardian, titled, I thought I was fine parenting through Covid isolation. I wasn’t, where writer, Celina Ribeiro, speaks about catching covid in 2022 is like unpicking old wounds, unravelling any remaining threads of ‘keeping it together’. Without the sense of a community lockdown, covid today can feel even more isolating. I certainly feel like my resilience has taken a massive gut punch. 

Family sickness is part of life as parent, but I have to say as a working mother, it’s one area I struggle with. And I am one of the lucky ones, I have a fully supportive co-parent, flexible working arrangements and a comfortable home, and it still takes it out me. The stop-start life paralyses me as I struggle without a rhythm to life. This feeling builds like I can’t keep up. My husband and I are now both self-employed, so whilst we have some flexibility to hit pause, it comes at a cost – financially and emotionally. At the start of this year I had good momentum and optimism, especially considering we were in another peak and in deepest, darkest winter. My vision was clear, gratitude high and I had found a calm pace to work, moving in the right direction of building my new business, but not in rush all the time like I have been in the past. We started to stumble on some colds in Feb and then came some sickness before we got served up the triple whammy and covid hit. The stutter and stall pattern with work evolved into a grinding halt and now I feel like I’m climbing out of a big hole where the light is too bright at the top, it’s overwhelming and my footing is wobbly. My perception is a little warped still but my mind can’t help telling me I’ve lost months, opportunities have passed and my good creative has sizzled away. This isn’t fact, but it it’s how it feels right now.

We all react to illness in different ways, and for me, I get sad. Really sad. And covid has made me so lethargic, which as a naturally springy bright person is pulling me down. I struggle with the surrender of these waves, I try too hard to fight and the resistance grinds me down. Whilst I’ve been sick, I’ve also been reminded of how crappy this virus really is, how it has destroyed so many plans and altered lives forever more. It is truly a surreal time. 

I have closely followed the impact of the pandemic on mothers. The mental load has left many on the edge and turned the progress clock backward on equality with many having to leave jobs or forced out and many unsupported and exhausted. I’ve been fortunate to never have an employer that isn’t empathetic to parenting challenges when working, but I know that is not the case for many. I read this article in Forbes this week which details some new research placing empathy as the most important leadership skill – isn’t that just the truth? I hope that might be a positive outcome of this time, that empathy increases amongst leaders and work cultures. 

For me right now though, I have to be my own leader right and set my own culture – I must have empathy with myself. And though I find it so disappointing when I am genuinely trying to do good things – stay healthy, be a present parent, create meaningful work that brings value, and it gets scuppered by germs, I must learn to be compassionate with myself and just surrender to it. I want to role model this to our children, I do not want them to learn that rest is for the weak, I want them to see that rest and self-compassion is what makes you strong.

Our youngest is 2 and has just started nursery, which is likely the root cause of all the extra bugs we’ve had recently, so I really do need to strap in and learn to surrender as these toddler years are full of germy adventures. My vision is clear, even if my timeline keeps taking a kicking and I must hold onto that, culture has a way of making us believe we’re always so behind, but really, behind what? I have told myself I am marinating – always learning and thinking, always moving in the right direction, even if that seems to be a horizontal direction for the time being.

This too shall pass. Good things and sunshine are coming.