I’ve been overcome by a great fatigue this week. It’s a tiredness that’s affected both my body and my mind. The thought of a socially-distanced future with nothing to look forward to has sent me into a nose-dive. And even our Marvel-film-watching-bonanza has just seen the evil Thanos defeat both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. So, what’s the point?
I simply can’t be bothered any more. I get up late, still feeling exhausted, and slob down for a breakfast of chocolate bourbons and cake. Thank goodness I don’t have to home-school small children or else they’d all be addicted to day time soaps by now.
Grunting Teen, though, is getting concerned. ‘Mum, you haven’t made me play basketball for four days now, or bullied me into going for a walk, or checked I’ve done my assignments.’
The Nearly-Beloved is also on my case, ‘Are you ever going to change out of that pair of trackie bottoms? And can we please not have fishfingers and chips for tea again. Or at least give us some peas with it!’
I nod uncommittedly as they disappear off to their various workstations for their busy days. I, on the other hand, sweep aside several empty crisp packets from the sofa and plonk myself in front of the telly. I ignore the cobweb hanging in the corner, the biscuit crumbs on the carpet and the film of dust on the window ledge. I mean, at the end of the day, does it matter whether we perish from Covid-19 or an overdose of domestic dirt?
I must have dozed off again as the next thing I hear is my boys whispering in conspiratorial manner in the kitchen.
‘Mum,’ says Grunting Teen, shaking me, ‘I need you to take me for a walk.’
‘I’ve already been for a walk to the shop to get some fishfin… to get some tea,’ I say ignoring him.
‘Yeah, but now you’re allowed to go out more than once a day for exercise.’
‘Are we?’ I say.
‘Yes, remember. We’re on stay alert now rather than stay at home.’
‘Yes, that’s right,’ agrees the Nearly-Beloved, ‘and you can even meet another family member if you stay outside at a safe distance.’
My ears prick up. Could this mean I can chat to Darling Daughter again, making a change from the testosterone-fuelled conversations which focus on unfunny jokes about bodily functions? I feel a faint hope stir within and allow my son to fetch my coat and shoes.
As we walk the extra miles to his sister’s flat, Grunting Teen gives me a pep talk, ‘Mum, I think you need to get a grip and get back on top of things. After all, this won’t last for ever. We’re not being bombed and we’re not short of food. So, actually we’re pretty well-off, aren’t we?’
I stare at him. Is he parroting my own words back to me? Are we in some kind of role-reversal world?
And then all of a sudden, here I am, in the garden of Darling Daughter’s flat. A window opens and a familiar face appears. I’ve seen it many times on Zoom or Skype but somehow, it’s different here in the flesh, even if it’s two metres away.
‘Mum! Oh, it’s soooo brilliant to see you. You’re looking great. I love that choppy fringe look – it makes your eyes look bigger’
And even though I know she’s lying and has been forewarned about the Nearly-Beloved’s disastrous haircutting attempts, my heart sings just at seeing her again.
‘So mum, I’ve been practising decorating my nails in lockdown,’ she says, ‘which style do you prefer?’ and she dangles her hands in front of me.
‘Errm, I think I’ll get off home now and leave you two to chat,’ says Grunting Teen.
And so, we talk, a mum and daughter conversation – light-hearted, fun and frothy – not a hint of testosterone and all mention of bodily functions banned. I’m only there for half an hour but somehow my spirits have lifted and optimism springs anew.
I rush home, Dettox the house from top to bottom and make a healthy casserole ready for yet another film night. Apparently, that wasn’t the last episode in the Marvel saga. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a happy ending.