It is coming to the end of a week when I am sure that many people are feeling life isn’t fair. The whole situation is mind blowing and the emotions are overwhelming, it’s something we have never had to face before, and we don’t know what we are doing or how to process it. On top of this we don’t know how long our lives will be limited for, who we might lose as the virus spreads and how we will be affected financially. Life truly is not fair.
We must accept that social distancing is the only option to safeguard our local community and bring this pandemic to an end. The evidence is now overwhelming and the more we mix with other people the longer it will last, and more people will die.
The truth is that there is very little we can do but make the best of it. Accept our situation and face the coming weeks in the most positive way we can. A bit like that epiphany you experience towards the end of pregnancy when you accept that labour will happen when you stop willing it to, or the moment you accept that no matter what action you take your baby cannot be programmed to sleep at a designated hour or for a certain amount of time. Acceptance really is the key. When we stop fighting our new reality and redefine how we are going to live our lives we can move forwards.
Humans are loss averse. I have written about this before. Successful humans are the ones who have avoided danger long enough to reproduce. We pass this tendency down through generations to the point where we now have an extreme reaction to potential harm. That is what we are experiencing now. When we can accept our reality, we can move forwards see the positives in our situation and make the best of the opportunities this new situation is giving us.
It’s true it is easier said than done when you are the parent of a young child and you face the immediate future in isolation with only your immediate family for company, or if you are pregnant and walking a life changing path without the support of other women in the same situation but women throughout history have been in the same situation that we face now and survived, even flourished.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be a walk in the park, or that I haven’t had moments when I can feel anxiety rising within me but actually I’m ok with where we are as a family – I’m ok with being alone with my kids and partner for the foreseeable and I am fairly sure that I am ok with it because I have experienced similar before and survived, and in fact look back on that period as one of happiness and positivity.
In 2007 I fled an abusive relationship with my daughter who was then 18 months old and my eldest son who was 3 1/2 . We arrived in Suffolk with only the clothes on our backs and thanks to the support of Waldringfield Baptist Church found a cottage to live in on the outskirts of the village
We lived in the middle of a field, our nearest neighbours were pigs and we used to get very excited on Sundays because we knew we would have a basic conversation with the members of the church. It was a tough time; we could go days on end without seeing another person. We had little money and I spent my evenings planning how I would keep two pre-schoolers occupied for the next 24hrs.
It was during this time that the seed of Suffolk Babies began to germinate, and still now every day when I teach a class or reply to a message from a member of our community I know that I am preventing another woman feeling the level of isolation I felt in those days, strangely today when I remember those days it brings me happiness and I was lucky to have those months alone with my children, I missed them enormously when I returned to full time work.
Since Wednesday Katie, Mel & I have been working our socks off creating an online program to provide you all with structure to your days, with our award winning classes streamed straight into your houses and in time there will be a library of practical activities that you can do with your children in your own homes that are cheap and easy. Many of these I used myself thirteen years ago. We will have online coffee & chat groups and breastfeeding support as well as our antenatal program. We are so lucky that technology is going to give us the social interaction that we are used to without increasing the risk of us spreading the virus.
We will get through COVID-19 as a community, Suffolk Babies was born as a result of social isolation and together we will be strong enough to come through this. We have now an opportunity to reconnect with our children, slow our lives down and focus on the basics. Let’s not focus on what we are missing out on during this period of reducing social contact, let’s instead focus on how much we have to gain and how much we will cherish this time when we look back on it in the years to come.