Wednesday, 23 December 2020

2020 Stories: Corona, Tier 4, Exhaustion and Gratitude

Assalam-alaikam to anyone reading this and especially to those who make an effort to stop by and read despite my inconsistency in writing.

I have taken two weeks off work and a quarter of the way in, my head has cleared enough that I am motivated to write again.

It’s a curious time with Tier 4 Lockdown, winter solstices and the “Great' Conjunction” of the planets. I am off work; the kids are home from school and hubby is on his travels in Pakistan.


I hope sisters and brothers reading this are keeping well and are not suffering too much from the physical or mental effects of corona virus or a year of lockdowns and isolation insh’Allah.


It has been a curious time for the children, my oldest two have A ‘levels and GCSE’s in the coming year and so have been studying without knowing if they will have exams.  My younger son has missed a lot of school between lockdown and bouts of an ear inflammation that made him too dizzy and nauseous to go school.  Thankfully after multiple doctor’s consultations and finally a trip to emergency, he is now well and managed to get back to school before the holidays started.  I can tell he is well because he is back to annoying his little sisters until they scream and teasing me non-stop. The youngest two have been playing catch up at school, with their teachers making sure they know how to use google classroom in case schools can’t open in January.


All of them have been inundated with homework and tests, but alhamdulillah have just got on with it. I have tried to focus on how they are getting on emotionally as much as on their studies and just make sure they have what they need. My work has really made me realise how many children are going to fall so far behind that they won’t be able to catch up. For reasons as varied as not having devices, or enough data, having to help with taking care of siblings when they are home, parents that don’t understand how to get their children online, or just the stress of households that have lost income or are dealing with sickness, mental health issues or domestic violence. I noticed when Darling’s class had to go online for the first time, only 6 children showed up (one spent the entire time shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and had to be put on mute by the teacher). Lots of the children in her school are from newly immigrated families, I suspect a good number from families that don’t have a right to stay in the UK yet or much income to provide a phone or tablet for the children to use.


Hubby left for Pakistan in early November, he worked throughout the pandemic but by that point in the year I could see how down he was and how much he needed some time to focus on his faith. He travels for dawah for six weeks every year, this year there are no dawah groups (or jamaats), so he stayed in one part of Pakistan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. He has finished his six weeks stay and is spending a few days with his parents before he flies back (if flights are still running…). We have the annual list of things we have broken ready for him 😊


Mum and dad-in-law didn’t come to stay this year due to the Covid situation being worse here than in Pakistan. That was until things got really bad there too, but by then the flights were grounded.  We will have to see about next year, it is always good to have them, but it was also a break for me from caring duties and the constant squabbling between my opinionated oldest child and her equally opinionated grandmother.


Work has been a non-stop fiesta of long hours, new projects, intense learning and often just sensory overload. It has left me fit for nothing for months but evenings of binge-watching rubbish or scrolling through social media. All of my focus, creativity and mental space has been used up working on projects as varied as youth participation, community engagement, sourcing translations for covid information, looking at how we support people with no status to be here (no recourse to public funds) during the pandemic, improving access for people with disabilities, work around racism and women’s experiences – you get the picture…lots of things to fill my brain.


I kept going full speed with work, home and the kids until about autumn and then started to lose sight of why I was bothering to do any of it. I found myself waking up every day sad and then spending the day sad and then starting to feel ok by about the time I got to bed. This went on for weeks and weeks of me feeling miserable and telling myself I have everything to be grateful for, to be positive, to pull myself out of it.  In the end, it took to the end of November and lots of prayer and being still and allowing myself to feel the misery, for me to find my mojo again. I slowly found my heart lifting and seeing the good in the day again alhamdulillah.

 

At the moment I am taking it easy, going through my to-do list of things I have been putting off (what I call “life admin”) and organising the corners of the house where bits and pieces have been accumulating. I am cooking whatever the kids want, having way too many movie nights with the youngest two and have started journaling after a very long time. I intend to spend these two weeks running in the morning, going for walks, filling out my Filofax like a geek, journaling and reading. More importantly, I want to spend the next two weeks reflecting on the lessons from 2020 and dreaming up my plans and intentions (Allah SWT willing) for 2021 insh’Allah.


How has the last year been for you? What has helped you cope? Do you have an intentional end of year process?


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