We are all well versed at this now. The cases start to rise, the government watches, and then when it’s almost too late, they react. It’s not that I’m denigrating the government, even though Boris wasn’t my choice for PM, I’m observing. It’s an observation, and I’m not saying I would do any better. I would like nothing less than to be leading a country during a pandemic. It just looks like a poorly executed plot from a budget movie that leaves the taste of fear and disbelief in the viewer’s mouth.
Since moving to Montgomeryshire in August, life has seemed almost normal. In a small, rural community along the borders, there’s a feeling of isolation. It is almost like we’re neither one thing nor another. The fact that each road out of this small Welsh village leads to Shropshire emphasises that we reside in a non-place. Half of the homes here pay council tax to Shropshire rather than Powys. As it stands, we have not seen a single case during this second wave and the school has run pretty much as usual with two bubbles, not that I expect it to remain so.
Last night’s announcement by BoJo was not unexpected. I had been half-heartedly following the rumblings that an English lockdown was on the cards and he would delay the return to school. What I was not expecting, however, was the significance of the length of time schools would remain closed. Wales is somewhat slow off the mark and is still anticipating returning on the 18th January, four whole weeks earlier than England.
This situation is where border living comes into its own… During the Welsh lockdown in October and the English lockdown in November, life continued pretty much as usual once the children returned to school after the October half term. The biggest issue for us is the differences in rules – Shropshire surrounds us on three sides. This difference in guidelines means it has all been a little confusing (therefore it is easier to stay at home).
Education is a whole different ballgame though, with one child attending secondary school in England and the youngest four in a Welsh primary school. My oldest is worried that he will not be returning until after February half term in his most crucial school year. Exams are, thankfully, cancelled. However, the cancellation provides little comfort following the previous nine months. The youngest four, as it stands currently, will return to school on the 18th January.
For me, the anxiety is real. Wales will inevitably follow England, particularly with Sturgeon’s announcement that schools in Scotland would remain closed until 1st February. For me, Wales following suit means that I will inevitably struggle. I am fortunate as I have no concerns over money or work as long as I remain registered as self-employed. There are far worse things than feeling overwhelmed. Honestly, though, I know I will struggle. Work, Uni, those things will still need to happen. I will need to care for the children; I will need to keep on top of the house. My children attending school, afforded me some space, time in which my house remained tidy for longer than 15 seconds.
I know I am not alone in feeling this way, and sharing my exasperation at the situation does not mean that I doubt the pandemic. It does not make me a COVID denier or conspiracy theorist; it merely means I am an exasperated human learning how to navigate a world that is somewhat alien to us. You are the same; you, too, are weathering this storm. You may not be in my boat, but you are navigating the same storm.