Covid scare and lockdown funeral - The Modern Mum
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This month was not as easy.
I had no choice but to drink a bottle of wine, as prescribed via WhatsApp by a dear friend.
Prior to the second lockdown, we were sticking to the rules, meeting friends at a social distance in café’s and I had finally found a toddler group where my little boy could meet other children, for the first time, face-to-face (with strict parent social distancing, of course).
To find out we were all going backwards was frustrating and a little frightening. Not just for the physical health of our family and friends but the mental health of our children’s too. We knew schools could continue but we didn’t find out, until a few days later, that my little boy’s toddler group was deemed of educational importance. Phew!! My 16-month-old boy could continue and learn how to interact with other children.
As we started lockdown two, I did feel immense relief that I didn’t have to do home schooling. We’ve been very lucky having no cases in our class, with lots of diligent parents and false alarms. Just four weeks of lockdown that’s all. We know how long it is this time. We can do this! Well I had that mind set until about day 10, when my middle son woke up coughing at 7am. By 8am I had booked a test kit to be delivered and informed the school.
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With regards to informing the children of the current situation, I was a little naughty and lied to both children. I told them that the Government had instructed us to stay at home and one lucky person in our house would be chosen, at random, to get a special test. The person who would get the test would be the winner. We were all very excited about the test arriving.
When the test arrived, with my son’s name on it, he was very pleased and complicit. I was very proud of him. The test was promptly sent and the results came back negative.
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On the Thursday evening, we had a parent ‘wellbeing evening’, over Zoom, to find out how the children had settled back into school. This sounds really easy but involved lots of careful planning. The parent evenings for both children were one hour apart, so whatever activity I had planned to keep the children entertained had to last all that time. I opted for colouring books, as the toddler enjoyed drawing at the table wedged between both siblings.
However, I knew no toddler would sit for 45 minutes between meetings so I decided to stop the little artists after the first call. I let them free play and then I would resume for the second call.
All went very well on the first call. I held the toddler’s jumper behind me whilst he sat wedged between his sibling happily drawing. The children took a break and then on the second call drawing began again. However, it was not to be, I had to start wrestling with the toddler as he decided he didn’t want to stay on the chair. As he tried to slide off the chair, I had to slowly lower him on the floor underneath the table. At this point, my arm was stretched through the back of the chair and I ended up hanging off my chair. I couldn’t let go in case he decided to stand up underneath the table and risk bump his head.
In all the chaos my husband was trying to coax him out through the legs of more chairs at the same time. Once he was finally out, he was very grumpy. This was about half way through the meeting and 30 minutes from his bedtime routine. He wasn’t crying but wrestling with my husband and not happy, whilst the poor teacher and I could barely hear each other speak. In the end we had no choice but to cut the meeting short with an awkward smile and goodbye.
The month of November was a very difficult and sad month. My nan, whom I have always been close to, died after battling dementia. I knew she did not have long for this world, but I could not bare to think of it without her. With the toddler around during the day, I had little choice but limit my grief to bedtimes, with silent sobs in a pillow. I don’t get a bereavement day off from parenthood. You can guarantee if I do start crying and he wakes, I have to bottle it all back to comfort him and soothe him. It is really hard to keep my tears under control but It’s not something you can explain to a toddler and I do not want to frighten him.
As the funeral plans came through, it was very clear that this was going to be as tough as my mother’s funeral. There were only 13 people allowed to attend due to social distancing, this included the minister. With the immediate family, minus the great-grandchildren, we would be able to attend. The number also included the two great grand-toddlers in pushchairs. This was a huge relief, as they had not been cared for by another person since Covid-19 restrictions came into force. The funeral was up north so it would take us two hours to get there with no toilets or changing facilities available due to lockdown.
As we travelled up to the funeral, I sat in the back and entertained our son with bag number one of toys. Bag number two of toys would ensure he was quiet during the funeral. On the morning the older two kids were popped on the school bus, whilst the remaining three of us got in the car and started our journey up the A1. Half way through our journey, my husband and I had skipped breakfast, we decided to stop off for a bite to eat. To our delight Boris had deemed a McDonald’s breakfast of national importance during a lockdown. So we could fill up on sausage patties, dry bacon crisps, muffins and greasy hash browns. Our son thoroughly enjoyed a second breakfast too and delighted in telling me he’d finished by throwing an egg on my lap. I had planned for a messy toddler and I was pleased to be wearing my travelling clothes. This leads me onto my next problem.
As we neared the crematorium our next pitstop would be to find a discreet place for me to get changed into my funeral attire. My pre-requisites were that we could park safely, in an unpopulated area and there must be lots of trees and bushes. This was a lot harder to find than one thinks, with autumn been and gone, there was very little foliage around. Eventually we found somewhere a few minutes before we reached the town. I quickly changed in a little woodland, whilst dancing around trying not to drop anything in the mud. I think this was the fastest I’ve ever changed in my life.
Once we got to the funeral, I finally got to see my northern family who I’d been separated from since January. Everyone was masked up and I still felt hundreds of miles from them with social distancing in place. I just wanted to hug them and offer them support. The funeral lasted 20 minutes, cut short due to covid-19, and my little boy slept beautifully throughout. I sat there in my husband’s arms shaking, trying to fight back the endless tears that rolled down my cheeks. I missed her so much and I had hoped that I would have seen her alive at the end of all the restrictions.
Once outside of the crematorium, I had to continue to treat my family like aliens and maintained my distance and mask. It took me a while to regain my composure to speak to them and talk to them. We do chat over WhatApps, but it’s not the same as face-to-face. During our brief moments together we shared a few memories of nan, little family updates, with parting words of love and goodbye...all distanced and crammed into 20 minutes before we would be ushered away. We all have no idea of when it will be possible to meet each other and really be together again. I would have loved a hug.
With all the tears I’d had through the funeral, there was, of course, lots of snot. Any ideas how to wipe your nose with a mask on? I didn’t know what to do so unfortunately, I kept the mask on until I got back in the car. Eww!
Louisa Nevard also produces Mum’s Guide to St Neots online and on social media at: www.mumsguideto.co.uk/st-neots.