I had to sit down and have a long cup of tea with Mum today. It is almost the third anniversary of her death, so that featured in our discussion. I also wanted to know what Mum would think about COVID-19 and all that is happening at the moment.
The most recent COVID-19 developments in Germany
Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a large Zoom conference with the Heads of the German states, to discuss what was happening and work out how best for Germany to move forward. They wanted to avoid different rules applying for COVID-9 in different states and instead pushed or a united approach. The conclusion was the adoption of updated lockdown measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some things are changing, relaxing a little. Shops with an area below 800 square metres will be able to reopen, providing they can put safety measures in place to prevent further COVID-19 infections.
Our schools, kindergartens and child care centres have been closed since 15 March. They were supposed to reopen on Monday, but it has now decided to keep them closed for another two weeks (at least). The Chancellor and State Heads are going to meet on 30 April to discuss the measures again, so there are no guarantees that things will go back to normal then.
When they do go back, they are going to start with those students who have exams, who will have exams next year and those who are about to change schools (primary to high school). There are a number of social distancing challenges that schools have to implement before they can open.
All large public gatherings such as concerts, festivals, etc are also all cancelled until after 31 August due to COVID-19. It is nice to have some certainty, but we are sad that some of our plans are now on ice.
I wonder what Mum would think of all of this. She put health first, so she would be one of the first to accept it. I can hear the cogs in her brain turning quickly as she is already thinking of what she can do to make things easier for others. She would be wishing there could be more certainty for parents though.
How are we going?
I will be honest: I am coping, but only coping. I think it it mostly the uncertainty of it all, not knowing when things will return to normal. It is difficult to explain it to kids when you don’t really have a handle on it yourself.
I’m getting frustrated with the list of things I’m not managing to get done. I know I normally work from home, so I have it easier than many people. Working from home with a child who is there all the time is different from working from home with a child who still leaves the home for school or kindergarten.
We’ve gone through the stages, too. At first, we were frustrated, but still willing to go to three or more supermarkets to get what we needed for our normal shop. Then we moved on to trying to use as much as what we already had in the cupboards so that we didn’t have to go shopping and making do with what we could get. Now we’ve progressed to flipping a coin to see who gets to leave the house just to take out the recyclables.
I felt that I was not always getting the support I need. Peter and I had a big discussion about it and things are better now. He has had so much work to do, but it feels like we have seen him even less than normal – his commute time has significantly reduced, but he spends all the time on the phone anyway. I’m not getting what I need to get done accomplished for my work or to keep our house running, but he hasn’t had much time to give me the relief I need. We’re both changing a few things up to see if it works better for us both.
It’s also the disappointment of various concerts and parties being cancelled. We understand, but it is still disappointing.
But most of all, it’s the uncertainty.
At least it looks like our zoos will be able to reopen soon. We can’t wait to see the new the baby elephant (though we have been watching him live) and the newest enclosure, ARAlandia, for the macaws.
What would Mum think…
…about how I am doing?
Mum would give me a chance to vent, then tell me to put on my big girl pants and just get on with it.
She would ask me what I am doing to continue Miss M’s development during the COVID-19 school and kindergarten closures. She would help me come up with a few simple activities that would be both educational and fun. She would also give me a list of 10 books to buy so that she could read them to Miss M via Skype or zoom – virtual babysitting in the time of COVID-19.
I wonder what Mum would think about Peter’s and my approach to these strange times. She would know that it is not particularly easy at the moment, and we have good days and bad. But I think she would praise us because Miss M is still doing well and is not particularly anxious or needy, so we must be managing to find some balance.
She would ask me what I was doing for my health during this time. When I fumbled with the answer, she would give me the look. Yes, Mum, I know.
… about the rest of the family?
She would have daily Skype sessions in her calendar for each of her grandkids so we wouldn’t be asking ourselves what Mum would think about how we are doing, we would know. She would be asking me whether I thought Dad could help their granddaughter, Miss S understand the maths she is supposed to be learning at the moment (Mum could teach him herself, but she would want to give my Dad something as a distraction).
My Dad would get a telling off for not strictly following the health recommendations. I don’t need to ask what Mum would think of the Australian males of a certain age who think they are He-man. They don’t like the thought of ageing (who does) and don’t want to admit that they are now in a risk group and should be more strict about their social distancing. “It’s for your own good, Matthews, just do it!”
Mum would be worried about Grandma. Like many elderly citizens, she is in a home and we can’t visit her. Granny is not enjoying life much anymore – has not really been enjoying it since Mum died – irrespective of the coronavirus. I would love to suggest that Granny have a cup of tea with Mum, but I am afraid that her reality would be even more skewed than normal.
… about schooling?
As an educator with many years of experience, Mum would be on the phone to colleagues, helping develop concepts and finding new ways (not the right, way, not the wrong way, the Mum way) to ensure that children can keep learning during the COVID-19 school closures. I wonder what Mum would think, and what she would come up with. She would no doubt want to test it out on the grandkids.
Though she would have retired already, she would have made care packages for her kindergarten families. They’d have instructions and what they needed for various experiments and art projects, as well as an explanation for the parents of what the children were learning. She’d probably need my help with formatting or drawing.
… about Tea with Mum?
I wonder what Mum would think about this blog.
She would critique some of my recent recipes and tell me which ones she wants me to make for her as soon as we no longer have to practice social distancing. She would want the naked chocolate carrot cake, the mini stroopwafel cheesecakes and the maple ginger tarte tatin, as well as some of the ice cream we’re working on, though not necessarily in that order.
Mum would also welcome the fact that I am planning to teach myself to make macaroons. She would be the first to come up with flavours that she wanted to try. And the colours. Or could I do that in blue, with raspberries and chocolate? What flavours would you suggest?
She would also want to know how my cook book is coming along. I wonder what Mum would think if she knew how little I have accomplished on that one.
She would also ask me what I was going to do for travel post inspiration, now that many places and borders are closed. I have a few ideas, then we will have to see how many zoos or dinosaur museums we can find.
…about the world?
I wonder what Mum would think and how open or reserved she would be of her criticism of the handling of the situation in some areas. Mum would be impressed with how well Germany is handling the COVID-19 pandemic and dismayed that the late response in some countries has made things more difficult. She would praise the innovation of some educators and be secretly pleased that she had retired and did not have to master another platform to teach her kids (though she would master that platform with ease just to talk to her grandkids).
Secretly, I think Mum would be glad that she had missed this episode of our history. She would put health first and would be annoyed at some people who were not following the COVID-19 health recommendations. Mum had a great imagination and I know she would be coming up with ideas about what people were doing with all that toilet paper – and the empty rolls.
Adapt and adjust was her motto. Mum would be fine. And I guess I don’t really have to ask what Mum would think – I know.
I am no longer stumbling
I still miss my Mum terribly. Yet having a place to discuss what I am feeling and sharing tea with Mum regularly has helped make it hurt not quite so much.
I don’t think we really ever move on from the death of someone we love. With time, it becomes less of a stumbling block for us.
Things at the moment are particularly trying. I think if I was not at the point where her death was no longer a stumbling block on most normal days, I would have more difficulty with the uncertainties of the situation today. Mum would think I was doing okay, everything considered.
If you know someone who recently lost someone close and may be stumbling at the moment, sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea with them. Virtually. Just knowing someone cares and will listen is a huge help.