Last week in Victoria, people across the state waited on tenterhooks to see if the State of Emergency restrictions would be lifted by Premier Dan Andrews, whose recent Coronavirus playlist was so on point it made me feel fleetingly grateful for the creativity the virus had unleashed.
Top of mind for me during his announcement was whether schools would be reopening.
Wholly focussed on this news, so important for a family with a child who thrives on routine, I’d completely failed to factor in that we might also be able to socialise.
Watch: Horoscopes homeschooling their kids. Post continues below.
Up to five guests allowed to visit, he said. And it absolutely threw me. In a confusing mix of cognitive dissonance and a cortisol high, I realised I wasn’t mentally ready.
I’m a social animal, I adore my friends and regard them as my lifeblood, along with my family. But when a friend asked if she could come and visit with her son on the weekend, I said I’m sorry but no, not just yet.
As I drove home from a grocery shop on Saturday night – a rare trip outside of the household bubble created on government advice – I couldn’t help but notice cars parked outside houses and music blasting from a neighbour’s place as I unloaded the boot. I can only assume they’re celebrating the end of the lockdown as we know it.
But is there much to celebrate? Is there much to talk about other than processing the grief that comes from having the rug pulled out from under us? Did I have FOMO seeing everyone out socialising? Nope. Not a jot.
So much and yet so little has happened over the past two months in lockdown. I’d lost a beloved job as a direct result of the virus’ hit on the organisation’s projected income.
I’d learned that remote schooling a neurotypical and atypical child is not for the fainthearted.
I’d started to embrace Zoom quarantinis as the ‘new normal’. And I’d also realised that without time to grieve and process all this change, another change in the form of government-sanctioned socialising was too much to bear.
It’s been one challenge after another for so many people – whether it’s the juggling act of working from home while keeping school-aged kids engaged, spending more time with housemates than you’d ever anticipated, concerns about the virus’ direct health impact on vulnerable loved ones or losing a job but not having the luxury of time to process the news because other family responsibilities wait for no one.
JobKeeper and JobSeeker, as well as the Coronavirus supplement, are lifelines for those who qualify but there’s also a forgotten group that doesn’t qualify for any support and are now reliant on their partner’s income for perhaps the first time ever, including me.