• Cat_writes

My Covid Christmas

It was a Covid Christmas. After avoiding this virus for nearly a year and a half, I finally tested positive ten days ago; four days before Christmas Day. My brother was home after a period living abroad and I was so looking forward to seeing him; how ironic that he travelled all the way home from Bangkok, yet we still needed a zoom call to see each other open our presents. Yet the statistics tell me I was far from alone - over 100,000 people tested positive in Christmas week, so there must have been at least that many of us celebrating in isolation, protecting those we love by staying far away from them.

Locked in with just the kids, my overriding thought was to remain grateful - I am double-jabbed, and so despite how unpleasant these last ten days have been, I am still immensely thankful to have been afforded that protection against it. Getting Covid at any point after the vaccination is still a lottery win compared to getting it in that dark springtime of 2020. The fact that it's taken this long for me to catch it is probably a sign of privilege in itself - I'm one of the lucky ones who can 'stay home and stay safe' with an office job I can do from my laptop and two kids of school age.

However it's fair to say I was also exhausted and anxious. As the fever raged through me on day two of the virus, I shivered beneath a blanket and willed myself to think straight through my brain-fog as I wrote down a list of phone numbers for my oldest child to call if I became seriously unwell. We already have a list taped to the sideboard beside our landline, but my anxiety pushed me to expand this to other close friends and family, just in case. I had seen my mum and my brother the day before I tested positive. At that point, I was also worried that they might come down with Covid too (with incredible good luck, they don't seem to have caught it from me, but it was clearly a possibility).

The truth of single parenting is that you can't really rest when you're ill - you can try, you can let things slide, you can resort to screen-time, you can lay down and let the action happen around you. But you can't take to your bed and just sleep off a fever. You do have to cook, clean (to some extent) and answer your children's excited questions about Christmas. You do have to show up. There is literally no one else there to play that role. This is true every day, and it's a reality that has equally as many blessings as it does difficulties, but never has it weighed so heavy as during a solo Covid Christmas. If you're the only adult in a household then you are where the buck stops:

healthy or sick, positive or negative, for better, for worse.

But having a Christmas Day that didn't fulfil the expectations I'd placed on it also made me think of everyone else for whom it was worse. The hospitals are under pressure and they're staffed by people who also don't get to see their families on Christmas Day. If your turkey blows up and you call the fire brigade, someone will be there for you. We're no longer clapping for our carers but they're showing up for us just the same.

Would I change anything? Yes. I'd rather have been healthy, I'd rather have shared the day with my family, I'd rather have refreshed my immunity to Covid with a booster jab than a dose of Omicron. But if I've learned anything from my week of hugs, sweat and tears, it's probably to let go of expectations. We still had a special Christmas Day, we were still cared for by my family from a safe distance (see Christmas dinner delivery, below!) and we still had a laugh. Then, crucially, when it was safe for the children to visit their dad, I made sure I fully rested to try to shake off the remains of this virus. For truly solo parents, with no one else in the picture, that wouldn't be possible either, and I'm in awe of those who live that way.

It's kind of crazy how much importance we place on one day in the year, when it's possible to have fun and family times every day other than 25th December. I honestly think that's the lesson I'll take into 2022. It's not always the times we EXPECT to have loads of fun that we actually do. Sometimes the magic happens on a random Wednesday evening just after dinner, and if you're present in the moment, you can drink it in then, with all the gratefulness and glory that you didn't feel when you had Covid on Christmas Day.

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