Yesterday a chat with a friend about some reactions she had to having a moan gave me cause to pause and think about what we’re grateful for.
My friend had been told to stop whining about how hard things are for her – she’s looking after a 4 year old who has little interest is learning and a 1 year old who doesn’t sleep while her partner works full time. She’s geographically isolated and they’re trying to renovate a house too. She has every right to moan, its really tough on her. Sure she’s lucky that everyone’s healthy and they have outside space, but that doesn’t stop it feeling overwhelmingly difficult sometimes.
However, talking to her made me realise how different our situation is. Yes it’s hard, but I have so much gratitude for the positives in our lives.
Practically, we’re so lucky in our home. We have plenty of space so that himself and I have our own workspaces and the boys can learn in the kitchen.
We have a smallish garden, enough to keep the boys engaged although the lawn is suffering. There’s even a little vegetable patch we’ve planted some cucumbers, courgettes and beetroot in.
We’re also lucky that I still have an old work laptop that I should have returned this spring. That means no fighting over screens when the boys need to use PowerPoint presentations for their school work.
In some ways I can imagine that if boy3 had been born at the right time and I was still on maternity leave right now, the home learning would have been less pressured. We wouldn’t be organizing their learning around work meetings. But instead I would have been as sleep deprived as my friend and trying to juggle two older boys learning with a small one feeding and weaning and toddling. That wouldn’t have been easy either.
Our boys’ ages probably aren’t the easiest – if they were each four years older they’d both be able to learn independently and working and learning would be less fraught. However, I’m loving watching the process of small boy learning to read and write first hand. He’s doing it all by himself and I’m amazed by how quickly he’s improving.
We’re a family of routines and habits. We’re used to not seeing our relatives for weeks or even months at a time. So while we are of course missing them, its not the same as for our kids’ school friends who see their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles every week. I know those children are missing their families like crazy. For us, its not unusual to be video calling grandparents every week.
When we started home learning we stuck to our old routine as much as possible. The boys still don’t get TV first thing, they do maths first thing and get breaks together. They finish learning at 3pm and then have free time just like at after school club. We’re so lucky to be able to do that.
Himself and I are both so lucky to be able to work from home. I’m used to it and he’s adjusted. We’re still being productive and our employers and managers are sympathetic and supportive.
We are so lucky that our boys get along, more than that they’re great friends. Sure they have their moments of shouting and crying and fighting. But they can also spend hours together on their own, negotiating and bouncing their imaginations around.
Himself and I have been through intense times in the past, living on top of each other when writing up our PhDs as well as the incredible pain of miscarriages. We’ve also ended up living 2 hours apart Sunday to Friday for 6 months when large boy was a toddler, due to job changes and house moves not coinciding. So being in the house all day together isn’t proving too taxing. His scalextric habit is mounting and my discipline with the laundry is wilting, but we’re ok.
Overall we’re very lucky
When you take all these things into account we really have a lot to be grateful for. Neither of us (or both) is working outside of the house, we haven’t had our income affected, the boys are willing (mostly) with their school work, and we have plenty of room.
So, when I’m feeling frazzled and torn, pulled in three different directions at any one moment and dozens over the course of a day, I need to remind myself that so many aspects of our lives deserve gratitude.
What are grateful for?
What lucky circumstance of mine makes you want to give me a good slap? I don’t mind, so long as its just virtual.