Journal of one month in lockdown

I never had a writer’s block. But I have to admit it’s harder to write these days… This situation is so heavy, I find it hard to laugh about anything or to step back and look what we are living, but let’s try it anyway. I thought it could be fun to share a piece of my life as a diplomatic spouse, mom of 2 under 5 in lockdown in the UAE. 

This Saturday will mark the one month anniversary since my daughter has been for the last time to school. And they’ve just announced she won’t go back until September, so 1 month down; 5 more to go. WOOP WOOP! She and her brother haven’t left the house for 4 weeks. One day at a time psychologists say. Cheers!

My husband is… well, where is he? Busy seems a small word. Imagine the amount of work for 30h per day and you’ll be close. It’s impossible to do it all even if he’s dam good at it. Belgium has small budgets and they are only 3 diplomats here, imagine the workload. Hence, he brings a lot of stress back to the house and this doesn’t disappear with hand sanitizer. He still has to go to the embassy located in a gloomy tower in the city center and he has to monitor a lot of very stressful information. It’s not exactly a fun period at Embassies. He also has to deal with the people… those Belgians blocked here after the closing of borders, those people who often decided to go on holiday abroad against all advice given and that now are crying (or mostly yelling) for help. On top of it, he’s a man, you know… the kind of human who is afraid of any sort of flu, especially man flu. The kind of human who really thinks he is dying from a stomachache. Don’t laugh, I’ve driven him to the ER once, in the middle of the night because he was having (according to him) a heart attack and was dying (at 27 years old). I drove as fast as I have ever had, faster than an ambulance. Turns out, after 4 hours of waiting on an ER bench in my nightgown (no time to change, I told you, he said he was DYING), he only had stomach burns. Meanwhile, my brand new car was smacked on the ER parking. We were together for 5 months, I learned a new side of him that I think many men have. I cried a bit, for my car. So now, you can imagine what is going through his mind when there is a pandemic outside and he starts coughing (after a dust storm…).

So slowly, to occupy my mind and fill the void, I became all the jobs we miss during this lockdown. 

Week1

I became a hairdresser. I ordered all the instruments and cut my husband’s hair. Great success! I apparently missed my vocation (which was my initial choice of career, but my parent refused). Everybody told him he had a better haircut than ever. I cut my son’s hair with less success… this little guy can’t stay still. It’s ok, we won’t take any family pictures soon anyway.

Week 2

I missed my morning cappuccino outside so much that I became a barista. I ordered a special machine for the milk, some special coffees and syrups. I succeeded in making the perfect caramel cappuccino but I still can’t do a proper heart or a tulip on top of it. I tried to do a 3D foam milk panda but according to my daughter it looks like a bat, and it’s not a good time to eat bats. 

Week 3

I missed going to the restaurant so much that I started to cook and bake. I ordered all the different kitchen appliances missing in my life, all those things that I would NEVER buy in ordinary times because they take a lot of space… I will definitely not be able to put them in my belgian micro-kitchen, whatever, who knows if we will ever see Belgium again anyway? So, I cooked world food and daily dessert. We did some themed days “Chinese” “Greek” “Mexican” “Arabic” “Belgian”, at least our stomachs travelled a lot. 

Week 4

Oh, wait, what’s that fat on my side? After a hour (read a day or more) of depression, I ordered a treadmill. Yes, I know, I order a lot but by the look of amazon’s stock level, I am NOT the only one 😉 I also joined this group of chicks working out everyday and posting videos of it… I watched, fat is still there, I kept on baking. 

And of course, from day 1, on top of being a nursery teacher for my son Jack, I became a KG teacher for my almost 5 year old daughter. Me, the least patient mother of them all, ended up doing 3h a day of teaching (luckily the French program isn’t heavy for now). I’m lucky I have only one child of school age and she’s only 5, I still can understand the material (except Arabic, I dropped that, sorry but inshAllah). But still, I immediately understood what the teacher told me a couple of months ago (even if at that time I made fun of her). She told me: “Agnes is a perfectionist; she is afraid of failure.” So, yes, even if she’s 5, every new thing is a fight and a negotiation to get her to try and take the risk of not doing it perfectly (Wonder where she got it from…). At the beginning I didn’t have the right fighting techniques. One day I was so pissed that my husband said “I’ll do it tomorrow” and he did, with his computer and his phone on the side. As a result my daughter came and asked me “Mom, what does it mean to be stuck in transit? Does this mean dad is taking care of people who can’t poop?” From that day I decided I’ll be the only teacher in the house. I sharpened my techniques and took some liberties with the school program. Songs for example, they have to learn one song per week, why does it have to be a boring fish song? I know hundreds of French classics (that I like better than this stupid fish swimming). From now on, she’s learning Patrick Bruel, Jacques Brel and Annie Cordy (“Chaud ka kao” or “tata yoyo”, you have to google it, it’s Belgian surrealism). I don’t care, She’s never going back to that teacher anyway! And you know what’s the best part of it??? I don’t have to buy the teacher a end of school year present 🥳.Pressure is high on that aspect here, some moms get them diamond necklaces with home made cookies… I’m not joking! Last year I gave them wine. Trust me, French teachers in a Muslim country, that’s ALL they really want.

We are beginning of week 5 and I’m looking for a new job to learn, let’s make this time, or at least my 39 min of free daily time that I have, useful. If you have any ideas, please send me a message! 

Although I started to be a mover and interior designer. My daughter decided she needed a “holiday in a hotel” feeling, so she moved in our guest bedroom. It’s fine, between the virus and my last blog post, I’m sure we won’t get visitors anytime soon. 

Stay safe and… put the goddam phone down, it is full of bacteria and toxic info.

Virtual hug

Cécile 

Ps: I made 2 new friends, bird friends to be precise. I feel like Snow-White because they really communicate and sing along with me. It’s probably the craziness anchoring. They are called piou-piou and Lina. I miss Liza, my UAE-summer-locked-inside lizard friend, but birds are way more chatty and easier to feed. 

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