Getting through the day

Recently I read someone say the way they are getting through lockdown is to think of themselves as 70 years old, and how they would probably do anything at that age to come back to just one more day of the kids, the hugs, the chaos, the noisy house.

I appreciate the sentiment but I think my 70 year old self will be too busy enjoying taking up smoking and knocking back whisky cocktails at 4.30pm to yearn too much for these limited days. Looking after a toddler is hard. Looking after a baby is hard. Looking after a baby and toddler is very hard. At the moment I miss my sisters desperately. One in Melbourne and one in Queensland, while I’m in Sydney. We are all banned from seeing each other, by our governments! I would like to hug them and I would also like to hand them my kids for a morning. For a night as well.

This time in my life would have been tough whether there is a freakin’ global health pandemic or not and I am using a variety of tools to get through the day. Sometimes I ignore my kids and read a book. Sometimes I eat six Tim Tams at 11am. Sometimes I simply say “I can’t” to my husband and stay in bed. I have just finished Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. It is in one of my favourite niches: books about ordinary people doing ordinary things. It is the type of book that makes me look a little more closely at the world after I’ve put it down. I notice things more. I notice the way the leaves move in the wind. I turn my face to the winter sun and close my eyes for a few seconds. I notice the kayakers on the dirty river, calling out to each other, being a bit competitive even though it’s Sunday.

After a morning of arguing with my toddler (“You can’t tip the coffee down the sink!” “why not?” “it’s my coffee!” “Why?” “Because i like it” “it’s my turn for coffee!!!”) he grabbed my hand in the back seat of the car and pulled it roughly towards him. I thought he was going to bite me and I was trying not to yell at him. Instead he held my hand against his face. “There you go mum,” he said, pulling me closer to him so he could look at me. I really noticed this.

When my toddler falls over he clutches his knee screaming at me “KISS IT KISS IT KISS IT” then when I do it is cured and he skips away happily immediately.

I know this time in my life will be very easy to romanticise one day. The physicalness of it. The smallness of my children. The pleading to lie next to them in bed. Their hot breaths on my face. Always on top of me, in my space, with no concept at all of ‘my space’.

I am trying not to write about my kids too much, but all I think about at the moment is my kids. When I am 70 I will be glad that I did these years, and I will be glad that they are over.

The other way I am getting through the day, these days, is letting my older son have a shit ton of screen time.

What I’ve been reading/watching:

  • In 2008 Vanity Fair put a heap of teens such as Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohen and the Olsen twins on the cover and interviewed a heap more with this weird Q&A that everyone kept responding “Brad Pitt” to.

  • I loved this as an account of loose units suddenly getting extremely famous. It’s an oral history of the Jersey Shore (which I did not get into when it was on air), it has a compelling narrative arc and left me with a lot of affection for the cast

  • I’m pretty sick of reading experiences of lockdown but this essay by Nyadol Nyuon invigorated me and gave me a lot of hope for the future

  • I love Spike Lee and I love his enthusiasm

  • Like a lot of other people who are not into basketball at all I loved The Last Dance. A few times a week I keep looking up this video of Michael Jordan on the floor sobbing after winning the title on Father’s Day when he had come back to basketball after his dad’s murder. I don’t know why I keep watching it, I probably shouldn’t include it but it is the kind of true emotional display – of love and grief – we rarely see.

  • The Other Two (Stan) and Difficult People (SBS On Demand) are densely packed sitcoms with real jokes set in New York City and have filled the hole left by Schitt’s Creek for me

  • And finally, this piece on writing and creativity is near perfect to me. It’s also about art after children, but there is something in this for all of us

“For centuries, writers have sung the virtues of staying connected to the routine and the mundane. Real creativity should feel like a game, not a career. Having to hang out the washing or get up and make breakfast helps you remember that your ‘work’ is actually fun. And for it to stay fun, you have to be unafraid of failure. It's very powerful to be surrounded by people who love you for something other than your work, who are unaware of the daily, painful fluctuations of your reputation. I discovered recently that my youngest child thought I spent my days typing out more and more copies of my book Millions, so that everyone could have one.”

This has been dashed off after a traumatic morning at the park with my kids. I doubt it will be frequent, please forgive grammar and typos.