At home with a toddler, during a pandemic...
I squeeze the sponge. Soapy water runs over my hands; hands so clean the skin is wearing away. Eyes stare into space through the kitchen window. The sunlight plays tag with the clouds, back and forth: ‘You’re it!’ and then away again. The wind blows in and catches the washing. Shirt sleeves and trouser legs flap in the air like a Mexican wave.
The washing line is full of little man’s clothes. Tiny pairs of trousers and cute colourful tops brighten up the dull wash of our adult attire. I’m so happy that he is too young to understand what is happening. He misses his nana but he gets to see his mammy and daddy everyday which you would hope more than makes up for it. He is also loving all the handwashing. ‘Hands! Hands!’ he says with obsessive delight as he grabs the little step and stretches up to the sink.
Time has broken. It doesn’t work how it always has. The last three weeks have dripped slowly like a knackered tap that won’t tighten no matter how hard you turn. Long days and longer weeks. For his and for our sake we have developed a routine. Long walk after breakfast, our allowed daily exercise, followed by lunch and his nap. Potter around, writing, playing guitar, trying to hold off the drink until Boris is on the telly at least and then we’ll have a gin. It’s difficult to watch that man without a drink.
Evenings pass much as they have always done, since he came along. A mad march through Tea Time, Bath Time, Story Time and Bed Time, always with the hope that at the end of it there will be some Us Time.
At home with a toddler, during a pandemic, in a state of national lock down: it is, on the whole, quite nice. For the people who live by themselves, I wish I could lend them his smile in the morning, even just once in a while, to give them all the reason they need for to get out of bed.
For anyone who is afraid and can’t see how life will ever be the same I would share my hopes and dreams for his future. Will he be a musician, an engineer, an artist, a chef? Will he be happy and safe? Will he love and be loved?
Hopes and dreams which are full of optimism for the future rub shoulder to shoulder with more immediate thoughts: Will he ever get to see his grandparents again? Will he remember them if he doesn’t? How will we explain this time to him should the worst happen?