I’ve not seen my Mum since Christmas. Since December the 27th to be exact. The last time we were together; we were stuffed full of turkey, wearing Santa jumpers, playing one last game of ‘Catan’. But last week, after 187 long long long days apart… we finally met up again. 🙂 And although it was a socially-distanced, no-cuddle-allowed meet-up… it was fabulous. ‘Cause when the world feels crazy… sometimes you just need to see your Mum to make everything feel right again. 🙂
My Mum and I are close. Wonderfully close. We have similar personalities, similar looks and a similar love of Christmas cake 😛 . She is kind, helpful, loving, thoughtful, independent, strong, determined. I completely lucked out when I got her as my mother. She gave us a fantastic childhood full of love and attention and fun. She has walked by my side -cheering, helping, and doing my ironing!- as I’ve lived my adult life. And has been a real angel since I got diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension. She is the best. Truly brilliant. In fact, for her 60th birthday, my sister and I made her a photobook called “60 Reasons Why We Love Our Mum”. It was easy to fill. 🙂
For the past seven years, we have lived in different counties. An hour and a quarter door-to-door. But despite this, I still know what she’s having for tea and what the weather is like in Leicestershire ( 😉 )… as we speak every day on the phone! We also see each other as often as we can -every month or so. Day trips, weekends away or just hanging out at my house. She always arrives at the crack of dawn, knocking on my door in time for the first cuppa of the day! 🙂
However for the first two months of this year, my diary was filled with visits from friends and family, and so unusually we couldn’t meet up. We’d planned to make up for it in March- a lovely weekend together to celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day. There would be cake and a day trip and far too much yummy food. But then, a week before her expected visit, the coronavirus started running wild, and so Phil and I locked-down early. We needed to shield ourselves from everything and everyone. Stay apart to stay safe. Our get together was promptly cancelled.
So for the past 187 days, we’ve drank tea together over Whatsapp video calls. For the past 24 weeks, we’ve had family meet-ups and socials and arguments through our phones. For the past six months we’ve supported and comforted and advised and helped and cheered-on and cheered-up from afar. And although I’ve previously not seen my Mum, or the rest of my family, for months at a time -when at university or travelling the world or working in Ethiopia- this time apart was different. Stranger. Harder. More difficult. Because this time, when we were separated, the world got turned on its head. Suddenly, normality was no longer the norm, the everyday was not how we were to live. Rules, restrictions and reclusion. Because this time, when we were miles apart, the lives of my lovely parents and siblings became complicated and stressful. Struggling to book supermarket slots, pausing businesses, home schooling. Being furloughed, understanding lockdown rules, searching for hand sanitizer and yeast and flour! Because this time, I couldn’t rush over to see my family or to help my family or even just to give them a cuddle. We were all forced to stay apart at the time we desperately wanted to be together. Zoom and Whatsapp and phone calls have successfully kept us close and connected… but it’s not the same as being in person.
But last week, I was finally able to see my Mum. 🙂 With coronavirus cases falling, evidence suggesting outside socially-distanced meets were safe-ish, and with the chief medical experts giving the green light for extra reassurance… now was the time. Wahoooo! 😀 So we enjoyed a wonderful ramble along the footpaths surrounding my village. We talked and talked and talked for six beautiful and bumpy miles. We spotted sky larks singing, admired fields of wild flowers, and ate our picnics overlooking the valley. We scootered through a forge, toasted our reunion with non-alcoholic champagne, and got surrounded by very inquisitive sheep at an old iron-age hill fort. (A fort that I’ve not been able to access for seven years. I love my new off-road scooter! 🙂 ).
And it was wonderful. Brilliant. Having anticipated this day for months, I burst out crying on seeing her. It was fantastic to get my Mum fix. Exactly what I needed. But it was also strange. The new social norms all felt twisted and wrong and unnatural. Having been shielding inside, I was unused to seeing people but keeping unnaturally distant. So it felt odd. Weird. We couldn’t cuddle each other, had to walk two metres apart, and had to maneuver back and forward to avoid each other in bottlenecks and narrow places. I passed her cake and champagne by placing it on the floor between us, she couldn’t use my toilet or come inside my home, and we couldn’t help when she was struggling to close a gate. The social distancing rules actually felt kinda mean. Kinda nasty. Kinda wrong. Like we were leaving her out, not letting her into our gang. Us on one side, her on the other. Part of me was shouting inside, just let her share your picnic blanket… yet the other side was telling me to keep apart to keep safe. It was hard to get my head around. Particularly as we’re both normally very tactile. But despite the odd new social rules, I had a brilliant day with her. Loved it.
So much so that we met up again on Tuesday! Another six miles of views and chatting and following Lottie. A different route but the same lovely time together. And we have another ramble planned next week too! After six months apart, we have a lot of catching up to do! And I have a lot of footpaths to explore on my new scooter! 🙂