Well here we are.  As I write this we are in the beginnings of Melbourne Lockdown 2.0.  Stage 4 restrictions have just been enforced.  I still remember how I felt back in the beginning of March, chatting with other parents in the carpark about this mystery virus.  Someone said that they thought schools may go into lockdown for Term 2, if not before.  I laughed, even scoffed.  Surely not.  It all sounded so absurd.  Shutdown life as we know it, all because of a version of the flu?  And yet within a week, the school holidays were pulled forward and it was the new landscape of remote learning for 5 kids plus another 3 pre-schoolers to boot.

Secretly, or not so secretly, I was kind of excited about all this forced change.  I was done with the hectic pace of life.  I needed a break and an excuse to stop. Being a teacher, I had always liked the thought of homeschooling my kids but was never quite brave enough to launch.  I think it was partly because I thought the responsibility of their education on top of their physical, emotional and spiritual well being would just be too heavy. In actual reality it was fomo, that held me back…. “Fear Of Missing Out”, not for me but for my kids.  I wanted them to have a wide range of friends, experience being part of sporting teams and to be in touch with modern culture.  I wanted them to be included.  Being included means not being rejected right?  And isn’t possibly the worst pain for a parent is to see your child rejected? So of course, when everything shuts down, there is no need for the striving and  the driving that goes along with it.  To be honest, there was some sweet relief……my babies were all brought home, tucked away, safe and sound.  No opportunities to experience rejection, failure……just in our little protective bubble.

So with energy and vigour, I created schedules, organised dance breaks, even ran our own bootcamps.  The kids seemed to relax and play games, it was sweet to see.  However as the weeks ticked over and Remote Learning kicked in, it was like our enthusiasm just drained out of us.  The kids needed to be on screens for their learning, but then wanted to get back on them for socialising and downtime.  I know we were, and are, all in the same boat here.  It was an exhausting battle to try and keep them buoyed or engaged in anything else.  Card games and walks around the block were just not quite cutting the mustard.  Like everyone, we rallied ourselves to make the best of it….. all for the greater good. I was a bit of a crabby mum by the end, but it was okay because the end was in sight.  I knew there were a few things we could have done better but overall I figured we’d made some nice memories, done our bit to flatten the curve and we’d be on our merry way.

Well no, perhaps not.  We underestimated this slippery virus. We relaxed a little early.  We thought that businesses had already made the sacrifices asked of them, no more lives to be lost.  The numbers were starting to get down to zero and we were starting to do that funky little victory dance out of our front doors that you see on YouTube.  Our kids even got the taste of being back at school, playing carefree at lunchtime and not keeping track of online assessments.  It is for this reason, that the announcement of Lockdown 2 winded many of us.  It was like a trapping net released from the sky, restricting us again. We questioned our capacity, our endurance and whether our great country would ever recover financially. I think many of us saw some beauty and positives in the first round, but the second?  It just seemed like a great big dark cloud.  The hardest bit was grasping the fact that we don’t really have a definitive date to work towards this time.

Many people have responded in anger.  Many have felt utter despair.  Many have become bound in fear…… that the beauty of the world has been lost in the threat of this invisible thing.  All understandable emotions, valid even.  The challenge is to not become stuck here, and even more so, when little eyes are watching.  Eyes that are searching for clues of stability, assurance and safety.  For me it was the feeling of grief that took me by surprise. I had a good cry and I sat in it for a bit.  However, after some soul searching and prayer I realised I had to make a decision.  It was time to let go of these plans. I had to let go of the events that may never happen.  Some may say its letting go of hope, but I would say its letting go of what was, to make way for what is. I realised I saw this whole season of being caught in a net that I couldn’t get out of.  I had to get out of thinking that I was trapped. Feeling trapped just instills feelings of fear, of resentment, of bitterness.  I didn’t want to remain here.

A few days after the announcement, it was one night while laying in bed, that I had a shift.  I was experiencing that familiar heaviness on my heart that has ebbed and flowed throughout this ordeal.   As I acknowledged the butterflies of uncertainty fluttering in my stomach, it was five words that popped in my mind that caught me off guard.  THIS IS AN HISTORICAL MOMENT.  It was no longer just “unprecedented times”, we had long passed that explanation in round 1. This is an historical moment and it has chosen me (us) to be part of it.  This little shift in thinking gave me a new perspective on this season.

What if we stopped looking at this time as something that “just happened”, that we are victims of? What if we started looking at this time, as something that we are called to? As horrible as it is, maybe this will be the making of a generation that bears the kind of fruit that can only come from adversity.  I would even suggest that we entered this period raising a generation that was prone to apathy and self- gratification, and we may leave with kids who know how to persevere, adjust easily and make sacrifices for others.

This is a moment in time that generations to come may very well be learning about in History class, creating timelines and memorising statistics about.  When we realise this and shift our thinking that we are called to withstand this time, rather than be victims to it, we can find our purpose within it. We can stop struggling and wishing it away, to being present and poised in it knowing we (and our kids) are strong enough to persevere and conquer, understanding the significance of our call.

Thankfully, unlike those who lived through wars that went on year after year, we know there will be an end to this.  We have brilliant scientists and medical experts banding together to create the vaccine.  Unlike wars, this microscopic enemy does not turn nation against nation, race against race…… it actually turns everyone in unity towards the same goal.  This historical moment is not built on seeking power, or hatred, or money.  It is not turning humans against humans.  With this battle, we all collectively play a significant role and there is beauty in that. 

Once I started to make this shift in my thinking and talking to the kids about their role and purpose in this time, I saw their demeanor change.  We started to consider that maybe this year wasn’t about all the potential memories and events they’ve missed, but the fact that this might be the year that they remember the most about their childhood.  This year might be the “Hallmark” year for the rest of their lives.

In no way, am I discounting the pain that has been experienced.  It has been excruciating to see the amount of lives, businesses and livelihoods lost.  However when we give weight to the significance of this moment, it gives weight to the sacrifices that have been made.  Some sacrifices we haven’t even begun to see yet, such as the devastation to our economy.  However, through talking with the kids, we are wanting them to know that they are built and called for the landscape to come.  We want to empower them to believe they are strong enough to rebuild our nations after the fire of Covid19 has passed.  We choose to believe that  they are not victims, instead they are the chosen generation who have the perseverance and creativity to navigate the changing landscape ahead.  Not victims…. they are called for such a time as this.

It is around our dinner table that we have started these discussions.  Amidst the noise, interruptions and the mess, we have been trying to empower and challenge them to reframe this time.  Now we are not having to rush off to commitments we have been able to delve deeper at the table. Our conversations have been starting with asking them how they are feeling, what are they REALLY feeling, allowing space and validation for it.  However we have been trying to shift their focus across to what we are grateful for.  How blessed we are to have a home and a space to feel safe, and a school that is going above and beyond to support them. We want them to see and acknowledge what a supportive government and leaders we have, doing all they can to keep families and businesses alive.  We want them to feel and have empathy for all who have difficult frontline roles, refraining from criticism and choosing to believe the best. Above all, we want them to know the significant role they are playing to save lives, by sacrificing the year they had planned.  We want them to know that they are strong and resilient, and that they can be a source of hope and joy to those around them.

We may never know if these little discussions are “sinking in” but even talking like this boosts our morale in this adversity! I truly believe this is like a cocoon period.  In many ways we have been drawn into our hiding places.  Just like in the cocoon process if we struggle against it, allowing resentment and bitterness to disfigure and contort us, we may not be able to emerge as an improved version of ourselves, or as a family.  Transformative times are often the most painful, but looking back we can often see the glimmers of beauty and purpose in it.

We will emerge from this differently, that much is certain, but different worse or different better is up to us.  I am tending to think that this adversity may just very well be a wonderfully formative time for the character of our kids, if we can keep intentionally shifting their focus outward and upward, with grateful hearts.

Having said all this, we do hope that this time in our cocoons won’t last too much longer and that we can resume that funky little dance out of our front doors.  I will be the first to high-five everyone on the way out and shuffle these kids off to their beloved school.  Gracious homeschooling mother I am not.

Biggest ISO squeeze to all,

Much love, Greta….. The Butcher’s Wife xx