Lockdown #5 – Day 100

Today marks 100 days since Lockdown #5 began for Auckland. For more than 3 months now we have been living with restrictions on our day to day existence. Finally this week, Mitchell has returned to almost regular school hours and is attending from 9 am to 2.30 pm 4 days a week. As I drove our regular route to school this morning, he sat in the back seat, red honda cap on a bit skewy, signing to ask who would be coming to pick him up – and today it is Larnelle. After 5 months away while finishing her last year of nursing training, she is returning to work the holidays while she waits for her exam results. Next year she will leave us for good as she begins work as a Registered Nurse.

Each time a home caregiver moves on that has been with us for a long period of time, it is a big adjustment for Mitchell and for us. It takes time to get used to moving around your own home with another presence. Each caregiver brings a different energy to our home as well as their own little quirks and mannerisms. Larnelle is one of the most calm, patient and unassuming of the caregivers we have had, and Mitchell has always responded in kind. She has worked with our family as a casual for 6 years now, and the last 3 years, she has undertaken full time study at MIT. I hope that her experience here, has in someway helped her gain understanding and empathy around living with long term chronic illness in the community. I know we have seen her gain so much more confidence and knowledge while she has been learning and we are all happy to have her back, but will be sad to see her finish next year.

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “change is the only constant in life“. This year has been constantly evolving and this year will mark such big changes in our family’s life that I could have done without a lockdown on top of the life transitions we are experiencing. Holly has completed her Cambridge exams at ACG Strathallan and today is undertaking the first of three NZ scholarship exams. As a mother, I had a heavy heart today as I could feel her anxiety of going to a different school with a group of people she doesn’t know, a different place and sitting in isolation to complete a 3 hour exam, based on the NZQA curriculum. She is the only student from her school who has chosen to take the scholarship exams this year and it is brave enough to give it a go, without having to do it in a covid restricted environment. Today is the Classics exam, and she is also undertaking English Literature and History in the next couple of weeks. I find it difficult to say the right thing in times where I can sense her unease, and at the same time I know that we can’t protect our children from the hardness and cruelty out there in the world, only hope that we have given them the tools and resilience to deal with it. But, boy do I wish we could reduce the hurts at times. It reminds me of a line in The Scientist by Coldplay:

“Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard”

While the song lyrics may be about love, I think the same can be said of life.

All I can say is what a crap final year it has been for her to finish school. So many of the positive activities reserved for your last school year unable to be experienced. Now that school is able to go ahead again, the students have been invited back on Monday 6 December to say their farewells. I have no doubt this will be bittersweet, after months of being isolated at home.

We are now in the 2nd month of Phil’s trial to work reduced hours and with only 6 weeks before the trial ends, we are really not much further on deciding our future. I have been in contact with our Needs and Service Co-ordinator at Taikura Trust about long term options for where Mitchell could live long term. With a fortnight left between now and his 18th birthday, I know we are looking at long term plans, but I also know how long it takes to get the wheels in motion. We are in the process of looking into options via the Choice in community living, residential care, or moving to accommodate a different living layout at home that gives him and his support workers a more independent space. The third option is possibly a transitional way to move to the others, but like all decisions this big, we have to consider all of our needs, and our desire to stay near our parents and how to afford to make that change. It’s at this point in life when you realise how living on 1 and a bit incomes, rather than 2 incomes throughout the last 18 years has impacted your reality for the midlife and beyond years. Knowing we also need to have plans for his future past the ends of our lives is also a huge worry and very emotionally upsetting to talk about.

Well, I haven’t got any creating to share today, but I finished reading The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley and have to add that completing the Seven Sisters series (apart from the book to be released next year) has been an achievement through our lockdowns. I have really enjoyed the series and loved that the last book was set in New Zealand and Ireland – as I write this the Cranberries have come up on my playlist. How apt. I learned a lot about Irish history and ‘The Troubles’, my understanding of the history about Northern and Southern Ireland, Catholics, Protestants, the IRA and the role of the British has been expanded by reading this. It has also reignited my interest to travel to Ireland one day but at the same time given me perspective on just how lucky we are living in todays environment – pandemic or not – we have progressed a long way from the 1920s.

On the way home from school this morning I stopped off in local Papakura to pick up a few items from Farmers – it is the beginning of the Black Friday sale period and I thought there would be more people out and about, but it was thankfully quiet. Tonight I am off to work at the mall and I will be nervous to see whether the sales increase traffic to the shops despite of the restrictions in place. So far, at work it has not been super busy in the mall, but there is nothing like a sale to move people into the shops.

In todays news, there have been 178 new cases identified, the leader of the Opposition (Judith Collins) has been ousted and the hairdressers finally reopened. Just another day in lockdown.

Take care.

Cherie x

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