One Thing or a Mother: Things I’ve learned in lockdown

Almost exactly a year ago, I walked out of the Herald and Gazette offices, 300 toilet rolls under my arm, for the last time.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:14 pm

Since then, the whole team has been almost exclusively working from home, only leaving our houses for interviews and stories that couldn’t be done without venturing outside.

On that last day, we even joked to each other saying ‘bye, see you next year’, but I don’t think any of us really believed it would, or even could, be that long before we would see each other again.

On Monday, it will have been a year since I saw most of my colleagues from the waist down (that sounded a lot less rude in my head!). Twice-daily Google hangouts have now become the norm, along with an ongoing message stream for queries in the interim (which is only occasionally hijacked by me stating I have a craving for cake or sharing what I had for lunch – food is king in lockdown, didn’t you know?).

Before Covid, we thought toilet paper was precious, now we realise it's hugs. Shutterstock image.

We now have a plan in place for getting out of this third lockdown, but there’s still long way to go before life will really feel relatively normal again.

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So, what have I learned in this, the strangest year of my life so far?

Aside from discovering more varieties of gin to savour and the fact I’m not actually that enamoured with banana bread, there are other things to take away from living through a global pandemic for a whole year.

Katherine Hollisey-McLean's new column is called One Thing or a Mother SUS-200917-065003001

Living through is probably an apt way to describe it, because I actually just feel grateful for surviving this year. I feel enormously glad not to have contracted this potentially deadly disease so far. I know so many other people haven’t been so lucky, and it’s definitely made me stop to smell the roses a bit more.

That was a bit deep. I try be fairly light-hearted when I’m writing this column, but I didn’t want anybody to think I don’t fully acknowledge the seriousness of our current predicament.

I still don’t like arts and crafts. It feels like everyone else is relishing the opportunity to start ‘projects’ in their home and garden, but nope, that’s still my nightmare. Drawing a stick man remains the extent of my artistic ability. I left the renovations to the professionals who redid our downstairs, and my husband, who created a lovely covered seating area at the rear of our garden.

I have no patience. My brief foray into the world of homeschooling during the first lockdown taught me I’m not a serene parent, who can cope with any challenge without getting flustered. No, I get shouty and frantic when you don’t understand my complicated ‘lesson’, and will end up giving up and letting my pupil eat biscuits. All hail teachers!

Eating excessive amounts of treats and drinking during the week might be fun, but just because people can’t see you from the waist down at the moment doesn’t mean the lockdown ‘bloat’ isn’t there. (Better log on to a few more home exercise classes before I start seeing people in person...!).

Working from home hasn’t been too bad, but it’s no comparison for office camaraderie. A little bit of banter and in-person discussions get my vote every day.

I need human contact. I miss my family and friends so much. I can’t wait to be able to give them all a great big hug. My children miss them so much, too. We can’t change the fact we’ve all missed out on so much in the past year, but we can (and I know it might sound super schmaltzy) make the very best of the more hopeful times ahead.