Riddle Me This… HOW is the ‘Big Shop’ Suddenly Causing Meltdowns?

So if you follow me on Instagranny, you’ll have seen me having a huge rant/meltdown after doing my shopping yesterday.

Not because of anyone else.
Not because of anything negative.
Not because of the shop.

Just about me.

And the realisation that something as simple and “normal” as doing the “big shop” had reduced me to a nervous wreck.

Yip. Me.

The very weirdo who doesn’t mind being in a bar or crowded place alone, who can happily spend a full day wandering around London on my own, and often, whose very joy DEPENDS on wandering around Dunnays ON MY OWN, got into the car after doing the shopping yesterday and freaked the feck out.

My heart was racing.
I was out of breath.
I had the fizzy fingers that I used to get when my anxiety was being a bitch, and I needed to decompress before I could even think about driving.

It was like a tidal wave of relief CRASHED over me once I closed the door.

What used to be one of my favourite things to do, has become something that I dread.

I hate it.

I hate the silence.
I hate the lack of eye contact.
I hate the absence of small talk and polite hellos.
I hate the heightened awareness of EVERY move made by everyone.
I hate the fear of stepping too close to someone by accident.

I hate the apocalyptic soft voice over the intercom reminding me to stay safe… it reminds me of ‘Children of Men’…a movie which I once taught as futuristic dystopian escapism, but which rings far too true these days.

I hate the whole thing.

But mostly, I hate my own weakness and how something so normal can freeze me to my core.

I hate feeling so weak.
I hate wearing the mask.
I hate the fact that so many of my friends and family are working on various frontlines every day, wearing these masks, and I can’t help.

I hate the fact that I melt down after wearing it for 30 feckin minutes.

I felt weak that I was complaining about doing the shopping. I mean Jesus wept, seriously Maria. Aren’t you lucky you having little else to be stressing about? Poor you my arse.

Yip. Absolutely. And I hate feeling so pathetically weak and I hate that I allowed something trivial to upset me so much.

But then, I read the hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS, of messages from followers last night and this morning.

From women (and men) just as usually confident and capable as me, for whom the big shop has also become a terrible gauntlet run that frightens and stresses them.

And I don’t hate my weakness anymore.

I’m certainly not alone.

And yes, I’ll get on with it, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as it’s deemed essential by the people who are working to keep us all safe.

And I’ll pull up my big girl knickers and keep doing it, (in turns with Himself mind!), because, kids need food and all that jazz.

And I’ll remember that were all in this together, even though we have to stay 2 metres apart.

And I look forward to the day when this is all over, because then, I can promise you, I shall be skipping through the aisles, singing and smiling and hugging EVERYONE.

And there’ll be nothing they can do to stop me!

What We Wouldn’t Give…

Usually, the night before we return to school after a break, the internet is full of funny memes about going back to work and teachers playfully grumble about having to return to reality.

Well let me tell you, today is different.

What we wouldn’t give to be getting up tomorrow morning, dropping our own kids to creche or childminder or school, and driving in the gates of our respective schools.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the lighthearted greetings in our staffroom, with “Here we go agains” and “Welcome backs”.

What we wouldn’t give to be walking into our classrooms, booting up the computers which have been sleeping for a week or two, opening the windows to let some light and air in.

What we wouldn’t give to have the door open and the first of many groups of teenagers saunter through the door, fully committed to the “I don’t want to be here” demeanours, but still smiling and throwing the odd “Maidin Mhaith” or “Yes Mhaistreais” as they find their usual seat.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the familiar voices mutter or announce their “here!” or “Yips” or “Anseo!” as we call through the roll before starting.

What we wouldn’t give to see the faces who in many cases have been in front of us for 6 years, some smiling, some growling, some feigning carefree apathy, some feigning interest.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the voice of the secretary over the PA system, apologising for interrupting the class.

What we wouldn’t give to have our colleagues wave through the window as they pass, or coming to the door to ask a question or give a message.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the bell; the awful, invasive, horrible ringing blast which we curse and loath usually; but which right now, would sound like music on the wind.

What we wouldn’t give to hear the noise; the calls, the laughs, the random sounds that can only be created by a few hundred young people moving from classroom to classroom.

What we wouldn’t give to sit in the staffroom and hear the familiar voices and quips and jokes and laughs from the colleagues we have worked beside for years.

Because you see, teaching is more than turning up and imparting information.

Those young faces that sit in front of us are more than just a name on the roll.

Those young faces have grown and changed in front of us daily, so gradually, that like our own kids at home, we never notice them growing.

We know them. We care for them. We get them. Well, we TRY to get them.

And while there is nonsense and rascality and mischief and sometimes tantrums, mostly our young people are a pleasure to teach and to see every day.

Students are under so much pressure right now. The uncertainty is painful, and it is painful for them and for their families… and for their teachers.

We miss them. We miss the craic. We miss their faces. We miss the personalities and attitudes and talents and challenges.

We were not ready to walk away from our students on March 12th.
We were not ready to say goodbye to the Leaving Cert students who we have known and taught for six years.
We were not ready to not see the kids who we taught and cared for each day.

So yes, tomorrow morning, we would do anything to be able to go back to school.

We’d give anything to see our “other babbies” and to do our jobs in the best way we know how, in our classrooms.

We’d give anything to hear them and answer their questions and laugh at their jokes.

And we’d give anything to have the answers to all of their questions and fears and to make them all feel safe and OK and that everything is going to be OK.

Because we miss them. (Every single one of them…even the ones who I guarantee do NOT miss us!)

Instead, we’ll get up early and do our jobs in the only way we can right now… from a dodgy laptop in the kitchen or spare room.

And we’ll doubt everything we’re doing and worry that it’s not enough.

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know can’t keep up.

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know are in difficult situations at home.

And we’ll worry about ALL of the students, (even those who are not doing state exams.)

And we’ll worry about the kids who we know are under serious pressure, for so many reasons.

Because, they are not just students.

They are OUR students, in whom we invest so much more than just 40 minutes a day.

I have a magnet in my classroom. It says “Teaching is a work of heart”. A student bought it for me in 2001.

I always thought it a bit cliched.

But it is not. It is true.

And for most of us, our hearts won’t be the same until we get to see our students again.

And all we can do right now, is look forward to that day.

teaching

When this is all over Mammy…

“Mammy, when this is all over…”, Mammy will need to have won the lotto.
 
I hear this line at least 5 times a day, from both of the girls.
And I find myself agreeing to pretty much everything that follows this phrase…
 
So far, I have agreed to:
 
Sleepovers with their cousins
A trip to Aberdeen
Dinner in Backstage EVERY night
A trip to Harry Potter World,
A trip to go see Santa in Euro Disney
A trip to Disneyworld Florida, where we will apparently swim with feckin dolphins
To have all of their cousins here for a sleepover
New clothes in Penneys like Arianna Grande
A visit to Uncle B in London
Playdates with EVERY BFF and general acquaintance in the world.
 
In fairness, they are also asking for things that are so heartbreakingly simple and genuine, that I find myself nodding in fervent approval when they say Mammy, when this is all over can we…
 
Go hug GannyGanda
Go play in GannyGanda’s back garden
Go to get icecream in the shop
Go in the car
Go out for pancakes
Go in to see Daddy’s gym
Go to dancing
Go to Glenveagh
Go to the beach
Go to school
 
And these I eagerly agree to because I can’t wait either. Actually, they’ll have to get in line for some of them, because ‘Me first yeah?’.
 
I had a catch up with two mates last night. And all of our kids have taken to using this line. We wondered where they heard it…but we know where. Well, obviously, they heard it from us, because let’s face it, we’re ALL using this line.
 
We’re all dreaming of the things that we once perhaps took for granted.
We’re all dreaming of doing the things that we are not able to do currently.
We’re all dreaming of the places we’ve wanted to or love to visit.
We’re all dreaming of seeing the people we are missing.
 
And it’s perfectly normal to miss and to plan and to dream.
 
Yes, we are all finding our grooves in this “New Normal”. I’ve used that phrase many times. And yet, now, while I am indeed living in my new normal, I know that it is thankfully, NOT going to be normal forever.
 
This new normal is temporary and we must all remember that. We must all accept it for what it is, for now, and look forward to when we can start to move on.
 
Because, thankfully, nothing lasts forever and everything changes eventually.
 
So, when this is all over, and it WILL be all over, we will all have things that we can’t wait to do and places to which we can’t wait to go…
 
We’ll have energy and determination to get or do things that we’ve perhaps procrastinated about or put off until now.
 
And the things that we CAN arrange and afford and aspire to, (mostly the hugs and playdates), will be done with joy and enthusiasm.
 
And while, short of a lotto win, there’s not a hope that I’ll follow through with the full list of things that I’m agreeing to right now, I will continue to let my kids enjoy the momentary dreaming that they get when they start a sentence with “Mammy, when this is all over…” because we all need to look forward and dream of when it is.
shadows

Sacking My Handbag: Service No Longer Required

Re: Postponement of Duties.

Dear M.Y. Handbag

As we enter week 5 of the current situation, I must, with regret, postpone your duties indefinitely.

I acknowledge that until March 12th, you were undisputedly indispensable and quite frankly, my right hand woman.

You were with me all day every day, carried all of my belongings and accompanied me to all daily events and meetings.

I apologise now for the amount of extra work and unnecessary files I dumped in you, and in hindsight, know that I never properly appreciated you.

I also acknowledge that you were my PA, a wonderful one at that, and that I really could not have survived even one day of my pre-covid existence without you at my side.

You carried me; my schedule, my finances, my keys, my snacks… You were the glue that held my daily life together.

It is perhaps true that I took you for granted. I assumed that you would always be there for me. And I know that you would have been had this blasted virus not rendered your post unnecessary.

I never thanked you for your constant companionship and support.

It is with true sadness that I must shelve you for the foreseeable.

Until life returns to some semblance of normality and I have a reason to leave the house, I am afraid that your services are no longer required.

Please take care of yourself during this time. I look forward to reinstating your position in the near future. I promise to treat you with more respect and care, and I’ll try to lighten your load where possible.

I apologise for this pause in your contract. It is unavoidable. I only hope you can forgive me and that we can return to our previous relationship soon.

With regret and deep sadness,
Me.