After a year of multiple Lockdowns, social distancing, and isolation…. we are almost free to gather in groups again in our gardens…. But do we want to? Yes, is the first answer. But upon more reflection: are we really ready?
This has been a time of forced-upon reflection for many. Some brave souls have had to address immediate living situations which needed to be changed. I send my strength and respect to those victims of DV and hope they find peace and support they so deeply deserve.
It has become evident to me that many others in my 50+ segment are caught in their own minds: spinning in a maelstrom. This frustration which naturally compounds at 50+ - why do GPs automatically prescribe anti-depressants?-, grows exponentially more when in a forced upon lockdown. Is this really the partner I’m spending the Next Half Century with? When will my kids stop moaning? Are my kids moaning (i.e., communicating) enough? What about MY OWN needs: my job, the career I yearn for, my dreams and aspirations…when can I address these issues without the chokehold of a house that is full of family members and their needs?
For some the maelstrom is the hollow sound of nothingness: of living alone and the painful din of silence and choke hold of loneliness. Lockdown has drained us all.
Natural generational pressures of parents ageing, teens growing and leaving home and mid-life questions of contentment have magnified for many during lockdown. You are not alone. We all know- or are- the woman who left her career and is trying to figure out how to return. Some achieve this with success. Many do not. The lucky still-employed are facing the burdens of managing their “day jobs” whilst balancing their responsibilities of being a good xxxxx (fill in the blank: mother, child, partner…all of above). The pressure is at breaking point.
Lessons from Lockdown:
Do we need reflection and time to make our own goals before we jump into socialising again? The answer is yes. Let's use this time to reflect upon what we've learned during lockdown. What is important to you individually? What are your values, goals? Label them, know them, and carry them into the now re-opening society. Let us also recognise the world outside has changed.
Whatever habits we developed for mindfulness and peace, remember to continue them when we leave lockdown. I discovered a love of paint by numbers and will continue this forever. Its may be seen as trite an babyish to some, but I find peace and contentment in it. That is key to me.
Let's also examine our individual friend networks. Remember quantity is not necessarily as rewarding and re-energising as quality. Over the last year of lockdown our own personal values and priorities have most probably become clearer as we have all had lots of "thinking time". Does your friend netwrok align with and support your values? If not, is it time to expand, reduce, tweak that "circle of friends"? Let's think about our individual betterment before jumping back into our old habits and way of life. Let's focus on relationships that are mutually beneficial, that make us feel good, and help crystallise and achieve goals.
Emerging Trend Towards Blanket Blame is Dangerous:
As we emerge from lockdown we will see how the waves to improve our society have affected us. Hopefully, these movements will be constructive and start to correct the unjust discrimination that has permeated our society. However, sometimes movements have innocent victims. The last few weeks has seen a wave of accusations being hurled at all male private school boys in London. Added pressure now for many women aged 50+ is the Misogynistic label - or worse - thrown at their innocent sons. Yes, it is obvious that improvements to behavioural processes in schools’ culture are necessary, and fast. No group should ever feel unsafe at school. I am a clear and vocal supporter of this.
However, two points need to be said loudly. One, this is not a private school only issue. It is a state school issue as well. This is a societal issue. This is another necessary correction facing society as a whole. Addressing misogynistic behaviour is a wave in the stormy sea of social improvement. But the pendulum has gone too far. I argue that values start at home and should be reinforced at school. I will say again: This is not solely a private school issue. This is a whole societal issue. Labelling an entire sector as the primary perpetrators is naïve and destructive. Change must happen, but not at all our sons’ detriment.
Secondly, there needs to be a balance between instilling change and protecting the innocent. Every boy that attends private school MUST NOT be labelled “Guilty until proven Innocent”. Many boys are respectful, sensitive children raised with social awareness, high EQs and respect for women.
Innocent 15 year olds stumbling to their school in the morning with unbrushed hair and books falling out of their overpacked bags whist they are focusing on seeing their friends (who are both boys and girls) that they have desperately missed over lockdown…or those reviewing for the day’s tests. These children should not have to face strangers waving their fingers and screaming “Rapist!” simply because their (not tucked in) uniforms bear the crest of an accused Misogynistic school highlighted in the newspaper that day. I have personally witnessed this and that is too far! These innocent individuals have rights too.
These accused boys come home confused, scared, anxious. Is this the result we want?
They return often to the (aged 50+) Mothers for help. We are needed again. But our personal improvement goals will have to wait another day. Our sons need us now. Our daughters need us now. A conversation about behaviour and values must recommence.
Let's go out and socialise if ready. But let's make sure we have identified values which are understood at home beforehand. Values for yourself and your family members. Let's tell our circles we love them. Let's continue our mindfulness activities that make us better, stronger individuals! It is then time to socialise again.