I’ve never been so glad to be a full-time mother as I am now living through this crazy time called the ‘Covid 19 Pandemic’. Last March the country closed down. Our schools, restaurants, many shops and services, bars, crèches, gyms and all sporting events and activities shut their doors and stopped operating. We were told we weren’t to see or speak to our friends face-to-face.
It certainly was all very strange, but never once did any of our children feel worried or anxious about what was happening around them, nor did they feel lonely or scared they’d be one victims of this virus. Life went on as normal. I was still there just like I had always been.
I taught them their lessons at our kitchen table just as I had before all this craziness kicked off. I still cooked and cleaned, washed the floors and our clothes, sang songs to them, read stories, listened to their woes and comforted them on demand just as I always did. They still squabbled and played with each other as before. There was noise and games, great new games were invented and played and many, many artistic masterpieces were created. The house was full of life.
My husband worked from home, hidden upstairs in our cramped bedroom, and nobody was ever bored. One of the many great benefits of being a child in a bigger family! We certainly missed our music lessons, GAA and dancing classes. We missed our friends and nobody came to visit us. We missed granny and granda a lot and we looked forward to their letters and video calls. It didn’t compare to our visits to their house every other day but it was the best we could manage.
The biggest impact lockdown had on us was that we were deprived of the Blessed Eucharist for so long. We craved it but we couldn’t have it. We prayed as a family more than ever before. We watched Mass ever morning, all nine of us, and made a Spiritual Communion. We made a Crucifixion scene in preparation for Holy week. We learnt new hymns, old hymns, Irish hymns, Latin hymns.
As a family we grew closer to God and to each other. We observed our children, especially our eldest three children, developing a deeper love for their faith. They read more. Asked more questions. Listened more. And when the time came for us to enter back into the Church doors for Mass, they were truly grateful. We celebrated our 4th child’s Holy Communion that week.
Things slowly got back to normal. Sports and music lessons resumed and granny and Granda came home. We prayed in thanksgiving. My pregnancy became a bit more of a challenge and I had to take a lot of medication to get through the days. I was reminded, far too regularly, on my very frequent ante-natal visits, that I was now an older mother and ‘high risk’. But I was glad and content that my baby was growing and was strong.
Then the second lockdown came. It wasn’t as harsh as the first one. Everything seemed to remain the same for our family, except for one thing. We were again forbidden to go to Mass. What a heartbreak for the very many Catholics in Ireland. We could get our nails and hair done. We could go for a pint and enjoy a cigarette in the beer garden. We could do a workout in the gym (if we were bothered). But we could not attend Mass.
Sports continued. Our schools all remained open. Our teachers stood at the top of their classroom of 30 children, yet if that teacher were to die, only 10 could attend their funeral in the church. We could swim in a public pool with dozens of others, but we couldn’t dip the tips of our finger in the Church’s holy water font. Nobody spoke up for us and we felt abandoned by the hierarchy.
But life went on.
It took a Pandemic for us to realise what’s most important in our lives. God, marriage and family. All in that order. We have been blessed with 7 wonderful (most of the time) children and are now awaiting the arrival of our 8th.
I have been gifted a husband that appreciates all I do in mothering his children, even though I often fail miserably, and I complain about my ‘job’ far too often. I am so fortunate that I never felt any pressure or urge to leave our children to enter paid employment.
If this Pandemic has taught me anything, it is that I am rich, even if we struggle financially sometimes. Our wealth is our faith, our marriage and our children.
I recently read that the job of a full-time mother is worth €50k per annum. I think it’s priceless, but if I had some of that 50k I think the first thing I would invest in would be some sort of a ‘Super Mute Button’ that would give me half an hour of silence after dinner.
Gosh my house is noisy. It’s the first thing one of my neighbours informed me of on one of her rare visits. She then proceeded to tell me with a smile, that my house will be quiet like hers in years to come and I will yearn for these noisy years. I doubt it!