There is nothing normal about life in quarantine, about growing up in isolation, about parenting in a pandemic.
This is the message Melbourne nutritionist and mum, Michelle Daga has for us.
And it’s hitting us straight in the feels.
Mum’s lockdown letter
Michelle, owner of BirthWrite – Holistic Prenatal Nutrition, Hypnobirthing & Natural Health is one of the countless mums who lives in an apartment, who doesn’t have access to a backyard and who is on the strictest restrictions the country has seen.
She recently shared an open letter on Facebook reflecting on the first year with her almost one-year-old son.
But, unlike typical first birthday reflections (such as the one I shared about my daughter turning one), this one isn’t about the many milestones and adventures. This isn’t about playdates and picnics, trips to the beach, family gatherings and favourite outings.
Instead, it’s a poignant reminder that this year has been anything but ordinary, especially to those in Melbourne where restrictions have yet to lift. And not only for parents, but for our children, and our babies as well.
Have a read of the lockdown letter post below:
Yet to meet most of his family
My baby is turning one this week. He’s spent half his life in lockdown. Isolated at home with mum and dad, for six months now, and counting.
He’s never played with another child, patted a dog, or had a chance to dig in the dirt.
He’s yet to meet most of his family, visit a shopping centre,or spend a day in a playground.
The only other faces he sees are hidden behind masks. And he has no idea food grows on trees or sprouts from the earth, just that it arrives in bags and boxes, left by a man in a mask at the front door.”
A knowing that something isn’t right
To look at him, you wouldn’t know of his sheltered little life. He was a baby when lockdown began, not even able to crawl.
Now he’s a walking, talking toddler, with a whole lot of personality and a toothy smile. He’s happy, healthy, vibrant, full of curiosity and laughter. And yet I feel a sense he’s longing for more, a knowing that something isn’t right.
That was confirmed just last week, when he hurriedly crawled across the floor, pointing to the window, squealing, laughing, shrieking with delight. I turned to see two pigeons, perched high on the roof of the building next door. A look on his face of pure joy, and then I realised, these are the first birds my one year old has ever seen.
And so we sat there and watched, his smile lighting up his face, as these two birds went about their day, so peaceful, so free, and then they flew away. Leaving us alone again, in these four walls.
Far from easy
There is nothing normal about living half your life in quarantine. There is nothing normal about parenting in a pandemic.
And although I’m well aware things could be worse, this is far from easy.
Millions of others are sharing this strange new reality with us every day. And I’m here to remind you, you’re not alone.
Here’s hoping we can all spread our wings, and teach our young ones to fly, very soon.
Happy birthday, Baby.”
The new normal isn’t normal at all
For many new mums with babies born in 2020 and late 2019, especially those in Melbourne or overseas where restrictions are still tight, this will feel all too familiar.
The sense of loneliness, of restlessness, of disconnect. The sadness of knowing your little one is missing out on those little things – like meeting grandparents from interstate or going to a playgroup. Seeing birds, feeding ducks, going down slippery dips, patting dogs they meet at the park. Such mundane experiences until they are taken away.
While many parents are lucky enough to be able to do those things again, it’s not like this for everyone. Many families are still living in lockdown. Going stir crazy with active toddlers.
Many new mums are going through the fourth trimester without any support from their own parents or friends. Could you imagine this?
Many children have compromised immune systems and it’s just not worth the risk to leave the house just yet.
But it’s reminders like Michelle’s lockdown letter that help us get through it and remind us that it will get better soon. We hope this lockdown letter has helped anyone who really needed to hear this today.
Sending strength and support to all of those who need it.