My column fell silent last week. Not for any reverential reason, but because, it seems, I have let everything go.
I just called one of my creative pals (whose brain I pick in times like these) to ask her advice on what I might write about during my current bout of creative (and life in general) impotence. She suggested, “Maybe just write about exactly that: the lack of effort to even want to try in all of the parts of our lives that we’re expected to ‘at least try’ in right now."
Now we’re cooking with gas! Hold my beer! Does this look done to you? (That last one was mine. Am I correct in assuming the best “here comes my area of expertise” transition sentences are backyard barbecue-related?)
My teacher hat fell off weeks ago. So, too, ended our morning schedules written in whimsical lettering, each item accompanied by adorable doodles. My efforts to teach the three-year-old letters and numbers (with the help of my seven-year-old) ended at G and seven, respectively (he may never be able to tell time, but Gosh Golly he can Giggle like a Green Gorilla Galloping through a Grassy Gulch). Our geometry legacy consists of mediocre knowledge “circle” and “square”. And that, my friends, is all the academic savvy my child will be taking to junior kindergarten this fall. That is, if “school” is even still a thing (is school still a thing?).
I am also done being a big kid. Who’s the guy that famously said, “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent!” I relate to that guy. Hard. Because, in addition to all my efforts to keep my offspring healthfully alive and as unexposed to trauma as possible, I am expected to “dance, monkey, dance!” on command. And, oh yes, mama's been dancing. But mama is tired. And has developed plantar fasciitis.
Do I want to play jungle animals? Not even a little bit. I could think of 97 things I would rather do in this moment than pretend to be a jungle animal. And I’m not even talking about fancy things like “sleep in one of those lavish, tropical ocean huts on a private island” or “wash my hair properly.” I’m talking simple stuff. I would like to make myself breakfast for a change, rather than eat cold, abandoned, saliva-laced, toast triangles, as I stand (who needs to sit to eat?), braless, on the front step like some cantankerous, middle-aged lifeguard, so I can make sure these guys don’t get hit by a car. Because, yes, they feel it’s necessary to do every outdoor activity they can envision before I’ve even de-crusted my swollen eyes.
Likewise, before the pandemic ends, I aspire to finish at least one flippity-flappin’ cup of coffee. To absolute completion. While it’s still hot-ish. In retrospect, maybe I should bring back the daily schedule; the kids seemed to (marginally) respect “mommy’s coffee time” when it was written in bubble letters.
And no, I don't want to go on the trampoline either. As much as our backyard neighbour must love seeing a grown woman gleefully urinating in her sweatpants before 10 a.m., I'm not feeling it anymore. My 140-pound, deconditioned frame has no place volunteering itself for bouncy, unpredictable terrain, no matter how much laughter and lifelong memories my lumbar disc bulges have been providing you.
I could finally address all the paperwork I complained about back when I was working some vast expanse of time ago. But no child of mine is gonna let that happen; not on his unreadable watch. Plus I couldn’t give a rat’s hind-quarters worth of mental energy for paperwork right now either.
My child just walked in on me in the bathtub, as I dictate this into my broken phone. Don't worry, he didn’t see anything, as my pandemic posture resembles that of Sméagol (to be clear, for those of you unfamiliar with the Lord of the Rings character: my naked, bathing self is a giant, loose-skinned, forward-folded baby). It is well after his bedtime but, despite the stories and multiple tuck-ins, his belly “still feels weird.”
“What could it be?” he asks.
I don’t know, man, I'm not a gastrointestinal specialist; if a heating pad and defecation didn't work and you're not in distress or feverish, I got nothing.
Pandemic mommy, you see, isn’t the most sympathetic mommy. Especially since this “weird tummy” seems to crop up every time we make him sleep in his own bed and not our bed, where there's a television that we pretend to not hear him watching, because it’s finally peaceful, and we’re finally rid of them. So my level of concern for his “weird tummy” is a 4/10 at best.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely heartless. I don't say any of that stuff aloud to him. I just think it. And I say really sweet, mom-appropriate things as my blood pressure rises and pulsates furiously behind my eyebrows.
My passion for cooking has also fizzled. Sidenote: when this is all over, I have much to share about the culinary versatility of weiners.
Even good-natured alcoholism has lost its appeal. Yes, dear readers, I’m back to water. Perhaps to match the flavour of my creative juices, of late.
I think my phone-a-friend’s suggestion to share my dwindling drive in all avenues of my life was a timely one. Recently, the CBC broadcasted a nation-wide, virtual singalong to Blue Rodeo’s “Lost Together”. Have you ever tried lip-syncing while ugly crying? Imagine a retriever with a mouthful of peanut butter, trying to suppress a sneezing-fit. Anyway, it was beautiful (not me, the video. I was the retriever).
Indeed, right now you may feel frazzled, overwhelmed, creatively uninspired, restless, lonely, or, like yours truly, desperate for a moment alone. In these unprecedented times, none of these feelings is wrong. We’re all a little lost.
But fret not. Keelor and Cuddy and hundreds of Canadians (singing proudly from their respective caves) have assured me: if we’re lost, we are lost together
Heather Huybregts is a mother, physiotherapist, blogger, YouTuber and puffin whisperer from Corner Brook, N.L.