That Woman in the Mirror: Rediscovering Ourselves in the Coronavirus season

COVID-19 and proning, motherhood in times of coronavirus

Thanks to coronavirus, I am a new self. And I am quite scared of confronting this person in the mirror. Because she is this maniacal woman who was lying dormant for all these years, and now, perhaps thanks to excessive sanitiser usage, she has surfaced from under the skin. Like many others, am constantly envisioning the worst-case scenarios in my head – some to do with coronavirus around us, many others to do with all the measures (real and emotional) we must undertake. Motherhood in coronavirus times is tough, being yourself is even tougher.

How will the world emerge from this? Will we just grow back all the fat eating industrial biscuits, as gyms have been shut, we have stopped soccer, and are focusing on social distancing? Will we soon run out of surface disinfectants and since many factories are shut, we may not get much more? Hugging will never be the same again, perhaps it will be called socio-medical assault or something?  Mental health? That anxiety in general and then the fears of what anxiety am I adding on for my kids and family by being so anxious in the first place. The virus hasn’t just hit our physical and headspaces, it’s killing our bank accounts too. Markets have crashed, investments are down and so even online retail cannot be therapy.

Ordering in is down to zilch. The only saving grace for me is that my husband is the cook in this marriage. So when all takeouts are on hold, I can still order biryani.

Like many working women, I am the one in my house with a work from home full-time job. And this does not include my household work. This means I not only have the privilege of the entire family unusually staying home but it’s also for me to schedule (reschedule) the house help, what the children will do today, browse YouTube for a DIY video that kids can work on sans much help from me, check levels of sanitiser and soap left. Even if one tries to catch a five minute power-nap, there comes your two-year-old with her musical rocking horse that sings, ironically, “If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands.”  Angry, groggy and some lethal mix of your latent disgust with corona life, you get up to shut the toy only to discover that it comes with one button that’s programmed to repeat or move to the next song. In less than thirty seconds of that discovery, I remove all batteries of all such toys. Grumpy, I sit down and ask myself, “What’s wrong with you. God help.” Pat comes the answer, “I am sending a new set of batteries for you to power up.”

The new everyone-work-from-home life also includes scheduling the musical chairs with my husband on the use of my home office room for the many calls we both have lined up since our man is now working from a turf I alone am the queen of. We are still learning how to be patient with each other about our calls, who is too loud, and how can we actually distribute that long list of to-dos with kids and staff. For work from home has its perks, and its responsibilities.

Motherhood in Coronavirus times has been tough. We are rediscovering our lives, our environment and a part of our selves

When I get short breaks I spend a lot of my time browsing new data on coronavirus, chatting with friends on social distancing measures, sulking about most of them leaving for their farms near and far and questioning the logic of stocking up. I made a quick trip to a store to shop for some yogurt and saw a friend of mine wearing gloves and mask shopping for monthly groceries. I was wondering if it’s a sign to load up the kitchen store. Suddenly my head’s wired to think of everything as a sign. Ordering in is down to zilch. The only saving grace for me is that my husband is the cook in this marriage. So when all takeouts are on hold, I can still order biryani.

Parenting in times of coronavirus is not going to be easy at all.

My friends in China have been self-isolating for months now and I am exhausted on day seven. Truth be told, our kids are unsettled just as much as us. They would love to return to their cubby holes and sand pit in school rather than having to OD on their parents (now that the novelty of seeing them both around has worn off). To get through this, we all need to bring some order to this disorder and also remind ourselves, that this is an opportunity to just chill.  An idea we have lost to believe exists in the din of our lives. My parents can’t believe we need DIY kits or web series to enjoy downtime. All the mushy forwards about making the most of family bonding are momentary warmth, cause soon enough everyone ends up talking about the virus and “when will we…go down to play, take that vacation, leave for the summer, order takeaway …and so on.” But indeed the board games are out and dusted. The Diwali-show-up, card set is also out again. We are all at that moment in our life, where we are finally willing to admit, “routine will be heaven”. And for the woman in the mirror, I am trying hard to counter her personality. I am slowly warming up to accepting that two chocolates a day is okay, a few extra hours of TV won’t corrupt the children, and finding a moment of peace by giving into ‘can I open that big toy present in your cupboard from my last birthday?’ quite so alright.