Last week, fed up with the confines and constraints of COVID lockdown, I hatch a reckless plan. I am prepared to break the stringent rules of Stage 4 to visit my 94-year-old mother Noreen, who lives alone in regional Victoria.
Once I tell Noreen, I gather evidence to prove my primary carer status in case the police decide to stop and fine me. A menu of home-cooked goodies is then designed to supplement her bland ‘meals on wheels’ diet.
Before I’m able to shop or cook, I receive a distressed call from her to say: ‘I haven’t slept all night worrying. I don’t want you to risk the huge fine. I’m managing okay!’
When initially told about the precautions we would need to make at the onset of COVID in March, Noreen had said in despair, ‘I don’t know why I have to go through this at my age’.
Seemingly, since then, she has thrived and is far more resilient than I’d imagined. Six COVID months have passed and I reflect on what else I’ve learnt:
The benefits of Facetime:
At the start of the pandemic, we introduced Noreen to Facetime calls which she has embraced with passion. Instead of feeling distant and powerless, our calls are so much more revealing, animated and satisfying. FaceTime requires 100% attention and with that comes a greater connection and laughter.
Hats off to de-clutter Queen, Marie Kondo:
With restrictions limiting our outings, Neil and I compile a ‘To Do’ list to declutter our house during Stage 4. Between us, we’ve ticked off almost every box. Shelving has been built, clothes culled, walls painted, back-shed blitzed, trees lopped, herb and vege patches planted as well as a garden bed on our neighbour’s verge. Pre-COVID, that list would have stagnated.
The value of volunteering:
As a sewing enthusiast I decide that when facemasks became compulsory, that would be the impetus for me to raise funds for a cause related to the impact of lockdown. With Beyond Blue’s focus on mental health and online facilities to accept donations, I involve a small team of volunteer friends to assist sewing. The initial goal of $1,000 is raised within a week, seven weeks on we surpass $12,000. Whilst everyone has contributed time, talent and materials, our commitment has given us a sense of community, purpose and worth as well as an appreciation of people’s generosity.
Cooking is now shared:
I love to cook and I love to eat out, though rarely would that incorporate ‘take-in’. With lockdown, we now look forward to Atlas – a Melbourne restaurant who delivers a box of vege’s and meat, themed menu’s over three nights, and an online masterclass. With sauces and marinates included, the concept is simple and Neil has embraced it. He now takes turns to cook and his repertoire has extended beyond a pretty, perfect risotto.
Hair is tied into my self-esteem:
My hair has taken on centre-stage now that make-up and lipstick seem superfluous under a mask. Rather than sport a skunk-like stripe down my part and see my self-esteem erode, I succumb to DIY. Tidying up Neil’s ‘buzz-cut‘ is straightforward compared to applying a tint to the roots of my hair. I succumb and ask for his assistance to do the back. I now have a greater respect for the work of my colourist and will continue to outsource as she is one of the ones left high and dry during lockdown.
Mental health days:
Usually I’m a positive and upbeat person. But after six months, of which one-and-a-half of those we’re confined to a five kilometre radius, I’ve had my share of dark days. Stripped of what I look to for mental and physical stimulus, my moods have fluctuated from anger to gloom. As I reflect on my emotional state, I can only imagine what younger people feel as they watch their livelihoods crumble.
Does any of this resonate with you? What have you learnt about yourself during COVID?