I woke up one morning and realised that my thoughts are constantly swinging between the things I like, the things I don’t like, the things I miss, and the things I don’t miss in this strange new world. So I thought I’d write them down.
I haven’t included ‘I don’t like that coronavirus exists and that people are suffering because of it’ on this list. Hopefully that’s obvious. I’ve focused instead on the more trivial, everyday highlights and low points of living through this time.
I found turning them over in my mind and noticing how closely they live alongside one another a useful, grounding process. I hope it makes for a nice read for you, too.
I wonder – what would your list include? Sending you much love and strength for the coming months. Here we go:
I like having a dishwasher.
I don’t like that emptying and refilling the bastard will probably qualify as my most consistent form of 2020 exercise.
I like going to the park.
I don’t like only going to the park.
I like looking at the plants we bought when lockdown began and knowing that, with the right levels of sunlight and hydration, we’ve all got through this together.
(I don’t like to talk about the fern accidentally scorched to death on the bathroom window sill during the heatwave. I let everybody down that day.)
I like being a mum more than ever.
I don’t like how frequently I’ve heard myself say ‘Soon!’ to my daughter when she’s asked when we can see her family and friends, despite having no idea what ‘soon’ means.
I like that, thanks to all this time at home, I’ve finally managed to put together a proper skincare routine.
I don’t like that it hasn’t taken ten years off my face yet. To whom should I address my letter of complaint?
I miss having a diary populated with things to look forward to, and the confidence that each one will happen.
I don’t miss living in such a fast-paced, demanding world that time at home as a family felt like a luxury rather than a given.
I like that there are so many ways that we can connect with people these days.
I don’t like that, at the moment, there aren’t many that don’t involve a screen.
I like working at home, not having to worry about public transport, knowing I’m going to be able to collect my daughter on time, and having ready access to all my biscuits, all day long.
I don’t like never having the option to go and do my work somewhere else, hang out with nice colleagues, read a book all the way there and back on the tube, and experience the novelty of returning home again.
I miss going out for nice cocktails in nice bars.
(I have a child, I’ve been missing that for years.)
I like that I no longer feel daunted by empty days ahead at home. We’ve found a new rhythm and learnt that just a handful of components make up a good day. If we can have some play time, fresh air, music, stories, space to ourselves, and parenting support from Hey Duggee, most of the time, that’s enough.
I don’t like to think about the impact that hours and hours listening to the Peppa Pig playlist on Spotify during lockdown will have had on my ‘Most listened to’ list for 2020.
I miss hugging my family.
I miss hugging my friends.
I don’t miss not quite knowing how to make physical contact with acquaintances, getting it wrong, and having the embarrassment wake me up every night for a week.
I really miss my nephews.
I like the excuse that cooler weather (and my now eight-month long sense of entitlement to consume ANYTHING I LIKE if it makes living through a pandemic easier) gives me to drink a hot chocolate packed with marshmallows every single day.
I imagine I’ll miss my teeth when they’re gone.
I like evenings where I leave my phone upstairs and spend a few hours pretending it doesn’t exist.
I don’t like that every time there’s a change or bad news, I descend into a scrolling frenzy, like perhaps the answer to all this is in my phone somewhere if only I could find it.
I like the incredible impact that just a few minutes with a book before I go to sleep has on my sense of calm.
I don’t like the insane effect this year has had on my dreams. Can a girl not take just a few hours off this chaos?
I like how much more time we’ve spent outdoors this year and that it’s made me stop and appreciate the incredible beauty of trees, flowers, blue skies, squirrels, autumn leaves, reflections in a river… I’d better stop before I break into song.
I don’t like having to cross an outdoor catch up with a pal out of my diary because the weather’s decided to be a TOTAL DICK and make it impossible.
I like that my husband is now here every evening to help get our toddler ready for bed and to have time with her at the end of a working day.
I don’t miss receiving a text message from him at least once a week to say he wouldn’t see her before she went to sleep.
I miss the freedom to have my mum to stay, to go to the café near me that she loves, and to see her fall asleep on the sofa with her arm around her granddaughter in front of Stick Man on the TV when we get home.
There’s nothing I don’t miss about that.
I like that we grabbed at precious opportunities to spend time with some of our favourite people whilst we could and that they felt exactly that; precious.
I don’t like worrying about whether my friendships are still going to be there when all this is over.
I miss believing that the only thing standing between me and an orderly home was more time in it.
I don’t miss being upset about having a messy house. Why not get every toy in the world out at once? We can’t pretend we don’t have plenty of time to put them all away again.
I like that one of the most unexpected discoveries of 2020 is that our daughter cannot get enough of dancing to Think About Things by Daði Freyr. No matter what else is going on, that always makes me smile.
I miss dancing at weddings.
I like going for a walk around our local area first thing in the morning and feeling 3000% better for it.
I don’t like how few opportunities we’ve had to wander around the rest of London this year (but I do know that we’ve appreciated it so much more when we have).
I like that months without childcare showed us how much our toddler likes going to nursery, how much more content she is when she has time doing her own thing, and that we don’t need to feel guilty for doing the same.
I don’t like that just as she’s starting to really enjoy playing with her friends – and I can start having slightly more substantial chats with their parents whilst she does it – playdates are off the table.
I like how much more acutely aware I feel of the amazing ways our little girl has changed during this period, because we’ve slowed down and had time to notice.
I don’t like that there have been days and moments this year that I’ve wished by, but I’m sure she’ll understand. It had nothing to do with her, 2020 has just been a bit odd.
I like every second of every day that we’re safe and well.
I don’t like it when the grind of living through this time makes me forget how grateful I am for that.
I like that there was a boiling hot day in the summer when my husband and I managed to drop our daughter off for a day of fun at nursery, drive down to a pebbly beach, swim in the sea, eat fish and chips, down an ice cream, and then drive home in time to pick her up. We’ve not had much time to ourselves this year, but when we have it’s been wonderful.
I don’t like that it sometimes crosses my mind that only seeing my face/hearing my voice/tolerating my anecdotes about the trouble I had locating the correct bin bags in the supermarket might drive him up the wall, but I really haven’t got time to worry about that on top of everything else.
I like how firmly all this time together, these highs and lows, and all these lessons we’ve learnt about what we each need to be happy, has bonded us as a family.
I don’t have a downside to share to that.
I like that despite the relentless madness and sadness of this year, there have still been so many lovely moments, and how much good it does us to stop and notice.
I don’t like to focus too much on how long it’s going to be before we can share more of them with the people we love, but instead on how good it’ll feel when we do.