Mothers in lockdown: Meg

Name: Meg

Children’s ages:
5 & 9

Location:
Altrincham

What were your initial thoughts about how lockdown would affect you?
My initial thoughts were disbelief about what was happening really. I am constantly on a mental see-saw and decided that the only way I would cope with lock down was to try not to think about why it was happening and by doing this I “pretended” it wouldn’t effect me too much (even though 100% percent of my PAID work stopped). I don’t think I actually had the mental capacity to think about it, and the people dying. I did watch a few daily press conference updates and that did hit home why it was happening. 

What was the reality of those first few weeks of lockdown for you?
Oh my gawd, never being alone. I hadn’t realised how much brain space I’d taken for granted since my youngest had started school. I think this was the biggest shock, absolutely no brain processing time. I use running as a way of coping with my rollercoaster emotions and usually go for around 3 four mile runs a week so that’s around 50 miles a month. In April and May I ran 140 miles, which I think shows what was going on mentally. 

Has lockdown changed over time for you as the restrictions have been eased? 
There was a part of me that enjoyed being in lockdown, no pressure to go anywhere and even though enforced family time did feel very over whelming at times it actually felt like we were all getting to know each other better. It was like being on some kind of weird retreat. The children are constantly evolving and it was interesting seeing them hang out together (and the usual fighting obviously) but they’ve played so many card games and board games together. Whilst having breakfast even!

Have there been easy/positive aspects of lockdown?
It has made me realise how much I need to slow down. I have realised I don’t function in a main-stream way and I always feel like I am letting everyone down because I find “normal” things so unbelievably overwhelming, I rebel against “a list” but it is the only way I am actually able to function.

A great example was the week when the homeschooling began and I felt literally petrified about the whole thing. I am very dyslexic and flourish in a non-academic world so the thought of the academic side of home schooling was awful. Anyway, Phil my husband (who just went self employed in November, so is also working from home) suggested we do a timetable and try to stick to “school time” – well my inner child internally hit the roof – thinking I want the children to use this time to be creative; structure, who needs structure? Well after day two of doing it “my way” and us all ending up in tears (even Phil) we tried it his way.

Me and Aubrey who’s in reception “do” maths (we play games using the dice and FaceTime grandma to play genius squares). Phil is working whilst being “on call” for Maple who is also doing her maths, but she’s in year 4 and Phil actually knows what she’s doing – I haven’t a clue. Then we swap after lunch time, the only problem being I do creative stuff with Maple which is much more hands on and means I end up working again after putting the kids to bed until very late.

Generally though it works. Family Bike rides! Mindfulness art class on zoom. Gardening. Actually finishing a photo project! Usually I’m a so many ideas to little time person, but I’ve realised it’s been a creative block. I’ve been having a weekly zoom with some other creatives which has helped me more than they will ever know!

Have there been difficult/negative aspects of lockdown? 
I know everyone will say this, but not seeing family, and not knowing when if ever it will be properly safe to do so for those that are high risk. My Dad passed away in 1997 and I found in the 1st few weeks I thought about him so much it was as though the slow down in life was allowing him to re-enter my brain and I was allowed to feel sad.

Has your work been affected? I mentioned before, all commissions and wedding photography gigs came to a standstill. We had 24 weddings booked in this year and they have all bar a few being moved, we’ve fitted most of them in for next year, but at a cost to us. Flights have been cancelled and insurance won’t cover it. It’s a real Bummer but it’s only money and if I freak out about it it’s not going to help anyone, least of all me. Something always turns up when you need it to!

What has helped you get through lockdown? 
Running and the lovely conversations with special people. Getting to know Maple and Aubrey at this moment in time and being here for them. Ah ha! That’s it….. that’s one of the things I’ve loved – not feeling like I’ve been split in two.

I can’t work because there isn’t any, and anything photography-wise I’ve done has been creative and there hasn’t been any time pressure. I’ve been a Mum, I’ve played games and done daily exercise and not had to do drop offs and late pick ups and feel guilty. Don’t get me wrong I bloody love my work, but since being a mum I feel like I’ve not given my whole to those who I love or to what I love doing (taking pictures).

Have you learnt anything, during lockdown, that you will want carry forward as it is eased? Are there things that you might even miss?
I’ve learnt that it is ok to feel crazy, there are things you can do to help yourself. You are allowed to say, I am not OK and I need some support. I’ve learnt that it is not always the things or people you expect to help that actually help you to feel more ok. You just have to ask, which is the hardest part. Every day is different and we do not always feel able to “perform” to our own (not anyone else’s) expectations.   

I’ve loved not having the feeling of missing out on things and I think lockdown has helped me to stop looking outwards as much (comparing myself) and that actually it really is what’s going on inside that counts as cliched as it sounds. I’ve started meditating and realised it’s something you have to learn to do and I’m not giving up this time. Every day is different but even on the days that your brain chatter just won’t stop, even sitting for 10 mins and letting your brain chatter makes a difference to how you feel.  I’ve discovered my favourite apps are Audible and Headspace, they are brilliant. 

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