Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Claire

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Claire. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown.

Life pre-COVID-19 wasn’t sustainable, but neither is this.

Who would have thought, even as recently as the start of this year, that in just three months, we would talk about pre and post COVID-19 worlds?

For those of us old enough, we remember life before 9/11, and 7/7, and knew that life after such horrific events would never be the same again. We all promised to learn lessons from both of these events, to treasure and experience life to the fullest and to hold on dearly to our friends and family. But did we really learn and stay true to those lessons?

I’ve lived in Cardiff for the majority of my adult life and now have a family home in the city where I live with my husband and four year old daughter. I work in Park Place in the city centre and my commute to work is a measly three miles, which I would ordinarily travel by car.

Over the last year, maybe longer, I have often wondered how life in the city could sustain the constant stream of traffic.

A three mile journey would sometimes take me over an hour. The 1.5 mile journey from town to my daughter’s school could take 45 minutes. Journey times like these were not the norm, but neither were they the exception. Cardiff roads were generally jam packed, regardless as to when and where you were travelling.

I would also find myself wondering how we could continue to exist the way we were. Everything was just so busy, for so much of the time. A standard working week was far surpassing my contracted hours, eating into the little time I had with my family and weekends passed by in a flurry of activities, parties and preparing for the next week ahead which consisted of… pretty much the same, apart from those precious snatches of annual leave.

But whoever would have wanted COIVD-19 to be the thing that changed the world again? A threat, not just for a targeted group of people who may have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, but for every.single.person.in.the.world.

As we have heard, the virus has no boundaries, no borders and does not discriminate ( I think I may have to credit that little part to Nicola Sturgeon!). This is not something that those in prosperous countries can look at from afar, feel sorry for and then send help to those affected. This is in our communities, it’s in our hospitals and we live in fear that it will reach not only our doorsteps but also the doorsteps of our family and friends.

That fear is intensified ten fold when you are at home for all but an hour a day, if you even leave then, and there is no longer a “normal” day. Mondays to Fridays in the pre-COVID-19 world used to start for me at 6:15a.m. This still happens in the post-COVID-19 world. But instead of getting ready for work and hurriedly getting my daughter ready for school before having to leave the house by 7:50, I now walk downstairs to my kitchen and start my working day.

That is the first of only two constants in my day. What happens from approximately 8:00 onwards (that tends to be around the time my daughter gets up and comes downstairs) is a mish mash of school work for my daughter, full time work for my husband and I, meals, snacks, playing, pangs of worry and anxiety about the health of my family, and finally, back to a constant at 18:40… bath time for my daughter.

Bedtimes are pot luck for her at the moment, probably as she is completely out of sync, having no structure of a school day to adhere to, and range from any time between 19:30 and 22:00. Where she gets the energy from I do not know.

By ten pm, I’m beyond exhausted. People said to me at the start of lockdown that this would be the quality time we have craved with our children for years. I can categorically confirm that there is little in the way of quality family time at the moment in our household.

I feel more self inflicted pressure than ever to ensure that the repercussions of COVID-19 don’t unleash themselves on the career I have worked and fought so hard to build.

The instinct to protect my daughter, instilled in me since I carried her in my tummy. That’s at the forefront of my mind from morning until night.

I worry that the virus will make its way to my mum, who works at a village Co-Op, and through her to my dad who has had cancer, is a diabetic and is a poster boy for the “high risk” category if ever you needed one.

At times, my home feels like a pressure cooker. The intensity of a day just builds as the hours tick on. Until its bedtime. The house is quiet, the streets are quiet and slowly but surely, the pressure reduces. Life pre-COVID-19 wasn’t sustainable, but neither is this.

That being said, my husband and I have had moments of sheer clarity during these chaotic times – normally during weekends and slightly fuelled by alcohol!

We have made decisions as to how our lives and ultimately, our family life, will change for the better so we can actually live in the post-COVID 19 world, not just exist.

Follow Claire on Twitter @clairewilde30

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