A Reality Check during COVID-19.

August 21st 1942:
“Now our Secret Annex has truly become secret. Because so many houses are being searched for hidden bicycles, Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place. It swings out on its hinges and opens like a door. Mr. Voskuijl did the carpentry work. (Mr. Voskuijl has been told that the seven of us are in hiding, and he’s been most helpful.) Now whenever we want to go downstairs we have to duck and then jump. After the first three days we were all walking around with bumps on our foreheads from banging our heads against the low doorway. Then Peter cushioned it by nailing a towel stuffed with wood shavings to the doorframe. Let’s see if it helps!”
Anne Frank

It’s now the year 2020. Turning on my coloured LED 65” television- I sit back in my comfy leather lounge, taking a sip of my Merlot. I focus my attention to the words being plastered all over my screen, ‘Pandemic’, ‘outbreak’ and ’Covid-19’. As I flick through the stations each network streams the same information. The reality is harsh and the numbers of victims from this virus rise daily.

But I cannot seem to shake something that disturbs me throughout this time. I’ve had to sit and really think on why I feel uneasy. This is definitely not an anxiety from the Covid-19, this is different. A real disappointment in much of the human race. Why do I come off social media feeling flat and sorrowful? Don’t get me wrong, I still see so much good will. I see kindness in the humanity offering free sanitiser kits, meals, songs to keep spirits up. I see people connecting in ways I haven’t seen before. I’ve written some other thoughts on this in my previous post. Yet, there is no doubt a negative side to all that is going on. The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

I have sat on this for the past few weeks. I have watched and listened and observed behaviours. And then I’ve thought about pandemics and crisis’ throughout the history of our earth. 

Drawing questions on all that’s coming about, ‘are we any different as a human race when disaster strikes?’ ‘Do we show deep kindness and sacrifice?’ ‘Did people fight over petty items like toilet paper when say The Spanish Flu hit in 1918 killing 50 million people?’ 

I have to say- human nature doesn’t really show much of a shift over history. We start wars, we fight, we bleed, we offer peace. Some forgive, some still plot in vain and so the cycle continues. I also see and read about great acts of bravery. Sacrifices made by men and women of old. Throughout wars and diseases, so many pull together for the greater good. This gives me a hope. I feel I can take a deep breath and say “not all is lost, not all is bad.”

But there is still this wave that hits me from time to time. Something doesn’t sit right with me reader. I’ve worked out what it is. It’s sweeping our world, mainly the first world countries. A different pandemic alongside the Corona Virus. It’s a ‘I’m hard done by’ mentality. The complaining I’m hearing, and it’s time we get a bit of a reality check!

As I sit back on my comfy lounge and watch the latest rules to come out from our government, a government who are working tirelessly to support all Australians, giving money (which non are entitled to, be thankful for where you live!) to support everyone who’s lost a job (and on that note, It’s been heartbreaking to see and witness those close to me suffer) or while their job is on hold. I am astonished at the vicious comments thrown toward the cabinet. This cabinet are continually listening to the public, trying to help and care for MILLIONS of needs all while trying to flatten the curve. They aren’t going to get it all right but they are trying their best under a pressure we have never felt. 

My goodness reader, I think of my grandparents going through the Great Depression. Rationing out food. Sickness, diseases all happening around them while battling the Nazis. Another reality check from the luxury of your home, a roof over your head, hot running water and with fast speed internet you can order take out, groceries and don’t forget your comfy pj’s to self isolate at home all day. You name it. It’s only a click away… and it ends up at your doorstep. 

I wonder how we in the year 2020 would cope if we were teleported back to the year 1942. How would your mental state be then?

I know some of you out there need social interaction. I get it. I know you thrive and grow in your connections. And you should. We all should. We were made for relationship. But again, I shake my head is disbelief. Let’s get some perspective friends, we click another button and we can connect. There’s Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Messenger, WhatsApp and who knows what else is at our finger tips (Sorry, homeschool mum here who’s been self isolating since 2011). We can get through this. My friend- what about the years of war that saw minority groups in hiding, not speaking to anyone for years. Children locked in cupboards for fear they would be taken from their parents. Imagine the fear you would have to implement on your children in order to keep them quiet every single day!

Shame on us as a society… we ramp each other up with our memes of not coping after three days in self isolation. Yet we don’t hide in the same way. Our fear isn’t the same. We proclaim our insanity from our rooftops and the comfort of our luxurious hot baths for being present at home for a few days. Look at the excerpt from Anne Frank’s Diary… and tell me friend, do your hands shake? Do you look white in the face for fear of sudden death. That the enemy will burst down your door at any second to wipe out your entire family? 

October 20th 1942:
“My hands still shaking, though it’s been two hours since we had the scare… The office staff stupidly forgot to warn us that the carpenter, or whatever he’s called, was coming to fill the extinguishers… After working for about fifteen minutes, he laid his hammer and some other tools on our bookcase (or so we thought!) and banged on our door. We turned white with fear. Had he heard something after all and did he now want to check out this mysterious looking bookcase? It seemed so, since he kept knocking, pulling, pushing and jerking on it. I was so scared I nearly fainted at the thought of this total stranger managing to discover our wonderful hiding place…”
Anne Frank

There it is, another reality check. Here’s my biggest concern, speaking of being present… our children, our families. They are to be our number one priority. However, all I’m seeing everyday are posts on how people cannot wait to get rid of their kids. Don’t get me wrong, the memes can be hilarious. I love posting laughs and I love posting ways to help and connect you as a family, but it’s going too far. So many parents openly complain that they cannot wait until this is all over and the teachers can take their kids off their hands. They (the parent) need a break. The parents are suffering… whinge, whinge, whinge. 

Let’s read this as a wake up call! Maybe, just maybe if you stopped and saw how strong and healthy your children are, how free and happy your children are, you might just stop whinging for a while. Hardly any time has passed and we complain about juggling jobs and children, schooling, cooking… managing this season of life. Yes it’s hard. I’m certainly not saying it isn’t. However, let me tell you. If you are currently reading this you are more fortunate and blessed than over half the world. 

Take a moment reader, look over to your children, watch them as they sleep, play or even bickering with siblings and now put yourself into a time where working, schooling and cooking couldn’t happen because of the poverty, because you would be homeless. So go hug your kids a little tighter. Be thankful for everything you have. We WILL get through this. Put schooling on hold for a moment if you’re struggling, change what you need to and work on your family. Work on hugging and listening and laughing together. Build that bond, because nothing is stronger or more important.

And do yourself a favour. Stop publicly complaining about your children. One day when you’re old- they will click that Facebook or Instagram button and see your complaints about them. How do you think they will feel?

Rather, let me encourage you to write to a friend personally and confide in them. Ask them for help. We are all struggling in different ways. Reach out to each other personally. 

Let the world know- your family is everything! Don’t forget this when you tuck your babies in at night in freshly washed sheets after a warm bath and a nutritious meal. Please, don’t forget the families in those third world countries with the same pandemic right now. And how little they are protected. Imagine what they sleep on at night. Imagine what they are eating for dinner. Imagine the lack of resources they have. Can I hear the words, REALITY CHECK?!

Let’s remember this is just a season. Embrace the sleep-ins, embrace the mess, the cancelled sports weekends and give thanks. Give thanks for those that risk their lives daily on the front line to keep you and your family safe. The doctors and nurses that cannot cuddle their children good night or eat that nutritious meal simply because they cannot take a break. 

Now that’s a sobering reality check if ever I read one.

Jennifer X

Beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
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Mindspot 1800 61 44 34

Family Life in the Midst of the COVID-19.

It’s 7 am on a Tuesday morning, I roll over half asleep, my hand searching for my phone. Trying to wake up, I focus on the screen. I open the news app and check to see how many more cases of this enemy there are. How many more victims has it taken from us. How many more restrictions we must live with. 

I get out of bed and get on with my day with the children. It seems I’ve forgotten what’s happening outside my walls. I’m fortunate enough to not personally feel the brute force of this virus. We school, we play, we are just doing life… then my phone ‘pings’. I pick it up unaware and suddenly I’m brought back to reality again with another announcement from the Prime Minister, or President or a news breaking story. I sit down slowly, engulfed with another article. Another statistic, another plan for action. My children calling my name for attention is drowned out by the photographs I’m seeing of desolate streets in New York City and Europe, the hustle and bustle of the major airports look like a ghost town. 

‘Mum, mummmmmy’ snaps me out of the chill I feel running down my spine. Surely this isn’t for real. It feels like I’m looking at photographs and video footage from a apocalyptic movie, not real life. 

I get on with my day. We get ready for soccer. I hear another ‘ping,’ it’s the coach, explaining soccer us been cancelled. I have to sit down and explain to my son why this is the way it is for the next little while. He seems fine. I’m happy it hasn’t worried him. Now onto the next thing, dinner, baths, stories and Bible, we pray, we pray for our land, for the drought, for our family and friends and the homeless, poor and sick. This time we add something new into our prayers… we pray that Corona Virus will stop. 

‘Mummy what’s the Corona Virus?’

I look to James, I think, I speak calmly. I explain as best as I can…

‘It’s like a cold or flu darling, but it can effect people with low immunity very harshly or the elderly. We need to try our best to keep distance to help the virus to die out.’

Seems like a good enough explanation, the children understand at least to this level. We pray, we tuck them into bed and come back downstairs. James flicks the TV on. He’s watching a documentary about the virus. Trying to become as knowledgeable as he can on the subject. I’m glued to my phone, reading statistics. Reading Facebook updates and statuses. A mutual friend shares a light hearted thought, another shares a funny meme. I scroll on, I then read another status- a sobering one. A warning. I read through the comments, I write some words of comfort. ‘Click’ I send it through and read it. Nope, it doesn’t sound genuine enough, ‘click,’ I edit it and change words around. There, that’s better. That should bring light to the situation. That should help stop the fear. I type the words as if I’m bold and brave as I sit behind my keyboard. Thinking I’m slowly saving the world, one ‘like’ and positive comment at a time. 

James turns the channel over, it’s our latest news report. The crowds of people are lined up to shop. To stock up their pantries. Thinking only the worst. We watch women literally fighting over toilet paper. Empty aisles and shelves are all that’s left for the anchor woman to report on. She stands in front of where the flour and rice would be. It’s all bare- it’s like the Boxing Day sales have come to the local supermarket.

I’ve been ok up to this point. I’m doing my bit, I’m keeping my family at a distance and safe and clean and writing all the feel good social media comments. But now, now I feel a pressure in my chest, I feel that brave keyboard warrior has left. I look over to my husband. ‘ I wasn’t worried.’ I said, ‘I wasn’t worried at all, but now I am, for food.’ 

My thoughts escalate quickly, I realise, it’s not pay week. We can’t get to the shops this week. We can’t stock up for this ‘lockdown.’ We have six mouths to feed, six bums to wipe, what do we do? 

The next morning James races up to the shops to stock up on a few non perishables. An employee approaches the area, ‘Only one pack of toilet paper mate.’ James smiles, takes one six pack while watching the single guy next to him take the last twenty four pack.

He comes home and explains how eerie it feels. People walking around aimlessly trying to figure out what to cook with nothing left. The opening hours are now shorter, he walked past a woman wearing a mask, another shopping in gloves. Later I questioned ‘should you be doing this? Should we be following these ideas?’

The next day I’m driving with the kids. My hand sanitiser is making a ‘tap, tap’ sound as I drive us to the park. It now sits in the cup holder. It’s been promoted from my hand bag. Ready for wherever we go. It’s become second nature now. We stop at the traffic lights. A man pulls up next to us, wearing a mask. We all stare. I tell the kids to just smile and look away. As we drive on Noah asks ‘why is he wearing a mask?’ I remind him of the virus. They seem to forget and are only reminded again when we get back to the car and I’m even more pedantic about using the sanitiser than usual. Will the children catch onto this uncertainty I’m feeling? After playing at the park, they wait while I grab my trusty hand sanitiser, and pump it onto their little hands. As they rub their hands together Scarlet lets out an ‘ohhhhh,’ followed by blowing air on her hands. I ask her ‘what’s wrong?’ She explains she must of scratched herself, ‘the sanitiser is killing germs and it stings.’

That night after our routine with the children we come backdown stairs to what seems like our new routine. Check the news, search for the latest information, the latest statistics. It’s the Prime Minister on channel 9. Addressing our nation. He’s firm, he’s disappointed and he says very clearly to ‘stop it, stop the hoarding, it’s unAustralian.’ He then reminds us that if we do go into lock down we will still have food. The shops will still be open and when this is all over. Our nation will continue under strict rations until our shelves are full again. He estimates about six months. 

I shake my head. I realised I felt that fear, I felt that anxiousness. I read into it. I saw those shelves bare and I thought we had to go and stock up. Once I heard these words from Scott Morrison I was jolted back to a right thinking.

Do I fear this virus? Do I just expect the worst? Do I worry myself sick? Will we be the next to contract it? 

I make a choice, I will not live in fear. There is one greater than this virus. There is one who can annihilate this enemy. There is one that says, “Put your trust in Me.”

I choose to be wise and act accordingly. To be kind to all people and show consideration. I choose to not be afraid but stand firm in the face of adversity. I choose not to run with hysteria but calmly face this as it comes.  

I stop. I pause. That’s enough. That’s enough worry, that’s enough what if’s, that’s enough what do we do? I live in hope.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay Kind,

Jennifer X