the challenge of (re)productivity

I have been scrubbing the bottom of a pan for a few hours. I think its given me a wrist strain…is there such a a thing as pan scrubbing wrist, like tennis elbow?

It was penance for believing I could be productive one evening in lockdown. I was trying to watch church online, write a to do list and make plum jam. The jam didn’t make it. Well, actually it kinda did, a caramelised jam, the pan was the one that really suffered, it will forever bear the marks of burnt plum even after all that scrubbing!

So, productivity not so much, healthy eating not great either…well I say this I am at least eating a lot of fruit, but also a lot of pastry, bread, cheese…just all of it. But I think it’s all about comparison, I have recently been reminded of the joy that was pimp my snack…and I have yet to make a giant custard cream biscuit or a supersize Toffee Crisp bar so I am all good.

Pimp my Snack! - Cartridge Monkey
I can only be impressed by the level of dedication it must have took to produce this.

I feel like I am emerging into the blinding light of this new world, wholly unprepared and with the feeling that I have forgotten to do something important. You know that niggling when you’ve left for your holiday and you know there was something you didn’t grab by the door-your wallet/phone/keys/tickets/passport? Or when you accept an invite to a social engagement because you have NOTHHHHHING ON usually but it just so happens that this friends party clashes with a family get together, and then you have to apologise to someone and look like the dick who just has ‘a million invites to every social occasion’ when in fact it’s just your family having dinner, but you suggested it so you need to go. Or just that your latenesss, has now pissed everyone off, and you tried to be on time but it doesn’t appear physically possible to get you and your kids out of the house in under 3 hours…even though no-one looks like they have spent time getting ready.

Getting Late GIF | Gfycat
If only…

Generally, in lockdown, there has been an absence of said awful-I-am-a-dick-who-can’t-adult-properly feeling, so the return of it as not a welcome guest.

But what are the rules these days? Not just the SD rules/guidelines which seem generally as clear as the water that my baby daughter drinks, swills, and then returns to the cup. But the social interaction rules, how do you even hold a conversation?

Awkward It Crowd GIF by funk - Find & Share on GIPHY
Or act the ‘new normal’-but what?!

I have MISSED decent conversation, you know with an adult not a toddler who regularly interweaves pretend with reality and usually incorporates multiple requests for snacks and TV in any story. But it turns out I have 2 settings, simply talk at people in a non stop commentary of life way ( my daughter is the queen of this) or constantly repeating back phrases that people have said because you seem to have lost all vocabulary beyond that shown on Charlie and Lola and swear words that you know. I can clarify that both styles lead to embarrassing and awkward moments.

Top 30 Please Stop Talking GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

So, yes I need a hair cut but mostly I need lessons in social skills…and I have looked on Instagram but it can’t seem to help me in that area right now. I guess maybe its a case of practice makes perfect-so here is my blanket apology to the first 100 people I try and converse with.

I may have lost my conversational skills but lockdown has presented us with the opportunity to improve my listening skills, and boy are they need right now.

There have been some challenging and insightful pieces written/podcasts recorded around the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe this time actually allows us to breathe deeply and see clearly for the first time in a while, and feel more deeply. Maybe listening causes us to think and choose our words with more care, more significance. I recently heard this poem ‘Blk Girl Art’ by Jamila Woods;

It made me crave, itch even, to use words that challenge, soothe, guide, heal, discern, confront and embrace not just fill space. And to let others words do this to me. I want to get the full charge of the air that words consume, to let me feel things more wholly. So that is what happened, I let the words and stories of others nestle into me, settle themselves in my lap and just stay with me.

At the beginning of lockdown I grieved that I was not with one of my closest friends as she had her first child. I felt sad that she was isolated and missed out on some of the support you hope from family and friends at that time. At the same time I was listening to the voices of black women and reminded of the statistics that black women face, and they are harrowing, that they are 5 times more likely to die in child birth in the UK. (MBRRACE REPORT)

Honestly, in the past I would have found those statistics too much. I wouldn’t want to feel that unease and acknowledge that women and babies sometimes don’t make it through. But something in this season stopped me from moving on quickly, it makes me want to know more, to let anger rise.

The facts alone are awful but something struck me when reading around this and that was, the absence of the mothers voices:

“We need to talk about the fact black women may not feel that they will be taken seriously, which might make them less likely to disclose how they are feeling.” (Dr Ria Clarke quoted in BBC NEWS April 2019)

So in my concerns for my friend being disconnected after her child’s arrival, I started to realise the many women, who regardless of the pandemic, walk this frightening journey alone. Who, are so aware of the statistics, but have little support.

This blog doesn’t end with a joke or an anecdote, just an invitation really to come and listen and learn with me. For those of you who are parents I am sure you are so aware of how frightening it can be and how necessary support is. For those who aren’t parents but just want the world to be a better place and want people to know that they are not alone, then I highly recommend:

Listening to Nova Reid’s podcast with Mars Lord on this topic ‘More than just birth’:

Looking up the work of Abuela Doulas

And consider supporting the incredible work of Elayos Doulas, who are a charity supporting perinatal women who most need the support.

2 thoughts on “the challenge of (re)productivity

  1. Jen, I think I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again. Your self awareness is brilliant. Thought provoking and comforting all at the same time. Thanks for writing xx

    Liked by 1 person

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