Life

Lockdown: it’s okay to not be okay

Welcome to day 140+…and this is my story (thus far)

I was planning to write this post for ages, and I’ve even rewritten it in my mind so many times, but I just haven’t had the time to actually sit long enough to formulate my words into actually typing…

So, let’s grab a coffee and have a chat… how are you? How are you coping?

To be quite frank, and I feel like I’m playing a major role in the movie Groundhog Day (you know, same routine, different day).

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Mentally, some days I can handle it, other days I feel so claustrophobic even in my own headspace and home. Yes, I could go out, but the idea of going out in a mask, or that I have to be mindful of where I go, let alone the stress and anxiety, if I want to take my kids out for some fresh air and then being faced with the guilt of them getting sick or the sombre looks on people faces once I am out, is just really depressing when you trying to look out for the rainbow amongst the dark clouds  – is something that doesn’t help anyone’s state of mind really.

For me, after coming out of 5 months of maternity leave, I was really looking forward to being back at work – getting to be amongst people I wasn’t related too, being in an environment where I was learning new things amongst so many other positives…who wouldn’t be excited to get back to work – but two weeks back in the office, my happy reality came to a complete halt as I was thrown into lockdown with my entire family.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my little family but adjusting into my new work-from-home life, with a baby and now I also suddenly had to put on the hat of home-school teacher was definitely not how I saw my 2020 pan out.

Besides having to compute this new reality, I had to deal with my 8 year old not understanding what was happening and her emotions; and my husband who went from hardly being home due to his job in the tourism industry, to suddenly being stuck at home as the tourism industry was closed down with immediate effect (I’ll get into that later).

Add in my eight year old being diagnosed with hypersensitivity ADHD (that’s for another blog post), my nanny abruptly leaving as she wasn’t “feeling the whole work thing”, Ramadaan and two Eids where I was not being able to see family and friends to celebrate, and you can say I am definitely livin la vida loca (living the crazy life).

If my life was a song, the beat, feeling and vibe of The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights is what I’m currently about…

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Where are you, Ulpha?

I have been asking myself that question a lot lately… I seemed to have lost myself in lockdown – sense of self, dress code and just being. I showed someone a picture of me pre-Rafa and I just told her, “I miss this Ulpha”… It feels like I’m mourning her loss. It wasn’t just the fact that I was way skinnier, but I miss the frame of mind I was in. Lockdown has hit the wind right out of my sail and for me, it feels like I can’t get to that headspace and be that person again no matter how hard I try. Guys, I freaking cut my hair short and I needed someone to say “I prefer you with your bob or even your longer hair” before it hit home that I really jumped into a spiraling rabbit hole, and my hair was the last piece of my identity I got rid off…lesson: I will never cut it this short again as I really do miss my long hair…

Will it ever be normal again?

Every day I’m reminded in small ways I much I’m not a fan of lockdown. Last night I needed a friend to say “I really miss our coffee catch-ups” and he was right. Sitting in a coffee shop, talking to him bout life, kids, work, hearing about new industry dynamics and everything else or just a spa day with my girlfriends’ sans lockdown protocol is what helped me make who I am.

Mom guilt is real AF

I have never once said I’m the perfect mom. Jeez, most days I feel like I was knocked over by a 4-ton truck when it comes to parenting. Gone are the “my kid will have limited screen time” comments. Some days even Rafa catches some Pepper Pig or Boss Baby just so I can have breakfast in peace.

Lockdown knockdown to our marriage

Now before we have ignorance jump on the bandwagon and make a world of stupid assumptions – I suggest you don’t! And rather read this part with an open mind – You know I’m always as honest as I can be, and I’m never one pretend to live in unicorn land. Lockdown is the first time in the 3.5 years of my marriage that Zunaid and I have spent so much time together and so long in each other’s company. And let me tell you, it’s been a bitch of an eye-opener. More days than it should be, I was ready to throw in the towel and told Zunaid this. I am glad we can have these conversations. I’ve been very open and honest about this – as this is who I am. But it seems many couples are enduring lockdown marriage blues. I think what majorly contributed to this is that he has been home since March 2020, and we’ve been living off my salary alone – thanks to the tourism industry being shut. It’s been a massive shock to our lifestyle, our systems and our entire being, especially his… but something Zunaid has yet needed to accept (which has been okay some days and not so accepting other days) – is him not being able to provide for us and that his life can’t be as boujee as it once was. It’s been hard, emotionally taxing and exhausting on him but for me as well to say the least – being the uplifting and vibe of positivity for both of us on the days he couldn’t face the world so that the kids can still feel everything is perfectly fine. But hey, we are still married and it’s the early days of the 7-year marriage itch period… and we agreed that as much as he is enduring this, I need to remove myself from what he is dealing with and focus on myself and the girls – because I am their world…and this was the best advice he has given me as it seems to be working for us…

And we actually realised, we forgot to do things that make us…well us:

  • Communicating – sans kids
  • Date nights
  • Time outs from each other and with each other

So, let’s be honest, what am I really missing…

I really miss seeing my grandparents without worrying if I’ll make them ill (I’m their eldest grandchild and my daughter is their eldest great-grandchild so they play a vital part in our lives), I really do miss coffee dates with friends, being at work and getting to interact with industry greats, interacting with people who aren’t related to me, going to yoga, boxing and, gym (gyming at home just isn’t the same), Amra having playdates at our place and inviting friends over for dinner. Rafa being raised with friends and family… and yes, I really am missing a lot of the superficial things that I found joy in (where I dont need to be extra cautious) – spa visits, hairdresser visits every 3 – 4 months without financial guilt, kinesiology sessions, blogger meet-ups and you know, just being… without the stress and anxiety that I could bring home a disease that can hurt or kill my family.

The silver lining

I’ve never beat around the bush, I was never one of those girls that dreamed of staying at home to raise her kids. I was raised by a career mom so that’s all I know and can relate too… as soon as maternity leave is done, head to work. And I have no issue paying for someone to look after my girls. Amra was raised by a nanny and then off to school she went at 1 ½ years old. With Rafa, I’m raising her. Man, its weird AF. As she is developing, it’s like I’m discovering so many things for the first time…since I can’t remember half the stuff that I had with Amra since it happened so long ago. It’s crazy fun times.

Where to from here…

I needed to make peace with the fact that its okay to not be okay at times during lockdown. This is really an unexpected, unprecedented time. I can’t make everyone happy… I’m not a happy meal. I also can’t use my already very little spare time fixing the world – as much as I want too…This is one time, where I need to really focus on me and my needs. First up, grow my horrid haircut out (and one day live to tell the tale). I have an amazing job which I love, girls that I’m getting to raise myself (no nanny).

What lockdown has taught me what the world needs?

One thing lockdown has made me realise is that women need each other. No we really do…There are far too many women who I feel:

  • need motivation (in all / any aspects of their lives)
  • need to know they can speak to another woman without judgment
  • need someone to adjust their crown without hatred and to do it with a true heart and good intentions
  • need to know it’s going to be okay (no matter what they are going through)

I find there are far too many women who:

  • don’t stand with their fellow women in a true-hearted way
  • judge…
  • gossip
  • passes really shit comments on other women and find utter joy in the hardship they are enduring
  • hate on other women (for their achievements, marriage, family, success, happiness, looks, dress, etc)
  • and especially hate when one discusses these aspects because its hitting to close to home

My advice to these women are:

  1. You can’t extract water from a rock – so really, drop the God-like complex
  2. While I can tell you that that other woman is someone else’s child, mother and partner, it probably won’t matter to you. But what I can tell you is the following – you will die, you will be buried the same way she will be buried…only difference is the hurt you caused her, will be returned to you in your grave… are you ready for that?

So much love and lockdown living… Here’s to level 2 and the new normal

xoxo

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