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Mama Said with Emily Martin

Emily Martin is on lockdown and really wishes there was something she could say to make it better

So since we last met, we’ve slid horrifyingly into a global pandemic and emergency. All of our lives have come to a short, shocking halt and, when this is over, nothing is likely to ever be the same again. That’s a sentence I never thought it’d write in this column and not even a smidgen of a joke there I’m afraid.

But it’s now more than ever that I want to make you smile and make myself smile too. Right now, I’m on about two corona-cries a day, which is down from four when it all first began.

It’s hard to believe that only a month ago I was tapping away writing this column, looking forward to spring and getting our kitchen done finally, complaining about my children and our happy life together, and now it’s like that was all another lifetime.

Mama Said's Emily Martin on the ups and downs of life in lockdown (32666949)
Mama Said's Emily Martin on the ups and downs of life in lockdown (32666949)

By the time you read this, we’ll be well into our new way of life on lockdown, but as I sit at the table in my hallway (we’d just started the kitchen so our garden is a building site and our kitchen table is now in the hallway, yay), we’re about to embark on Day Two of Home School and Day One of Lock Down.

Like everyone, I’m swinging almost hourly from laughing at a funny meme on one of the many, MANY WhatsApp groups I now belong to. And then just sitting for ages staring at my own leg until the tears come and I can’t believe this might go on until June.

The children are missing their grandparents terribly. And I’m a high-functioning child-woman who still relies totally and utterly on my Mum for everything, even though I’m 37 years old. I literally do not make a move without running it first past my Mum, so this has left me feeling lost and like there’s no way I can possibly compensate for all the love and cuddles the kids get from seeing our families. Or the way that when I run out of toothpaste and coffee, Mum usually brings some round for me and now I have to sort that mess out on my own.

I’m seeing everyone I know and love on social media (the only place I can see them) going through terrible things with money, losing jobs, not being able to see sick family members. It’s all just so sad and horrific.

Wow, have I made you smile yet?

Things that are fast becoming the new normal are a massive surge in WhatsApp groups. Being in a WhatsApp group with all your aunties and your mum and seeing that you’ve got 18 notifications and it was only five minutes since you looked.

Seeing pictures on Instagram of little kids crafting away beautifully at tables with the caption: “Academic work done, gardening, baking and now we’re making a rainbow mandala to put in the window.” My Home School vibes are way more like when there’s a teacher you all suspect is secretly drinking in their stationery cupboard.

But as I wipe my tears and swig from a bottle of white wine, I say to myself, “The kids seem OK so far don’t they?” It’s just us who are flailing. And at least we’re all flailing. Except for the craft-mums who would always be OK no matter what life throws because they can craft.

And it’s little bit like the flailing we did when these kids were first born and our lives felt like they’d been suddenly thrown in the air and nothing would ever be the same. Before we worked out routines and support networks and then, one day, we realised we felt in control again.

The children won’t remember the WhatsApp groups or the PM briefings where more of life gets shut down daily and the adults look at each other, raise eyebrows and do a low whistle. They’ll just remember when their parents and siblings were all home all the time, and mummy was literally forced to make jelly (my kids have wanted to make jelly for such a long time, and for some reason we’ve never done it).

We can chat and read and watch TV together, and celebrate like mad when we manage to find some pasta at the back of a cupboard. We can FaceTime grandparents and then go for a lovely long walk. We can drop off emergency groceries for our elderly neighbours and emergency wine for the self-isolating single mum down the road.

We don’t really need to see anyone else. We’ve just got us, which is all we really had before anyway. It’s just going to take about 12 weeks for us to all realise that.

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