1 month ago

How I’ve Grown Closer to My Adult Children

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No baking, no movie nights, but lockdown gave Ciara McQuillan and her two adult children time to get to know each other better …

Let’s be clear – lockdown did not make me a better person. I didn’t take up yoga, learn a language or become a more well-rounded individual by any standards. I watched more TV than anyone really should, baked some nice treats and did go on some enjoyable walks, but in general, I didn’t use the time to improve myself in any real way. I talked a lot about having extravagant lunches where the table was formally laid where we would chat for hours as a family over some deliciously complicated meals, but in reality this happened a sparse handful of times. There were a few Monopoly showdowns and even fewer Trivial Pursuit battles, and movie nights together were discussed at great length but never really materialised. I didn’t bake one loaf of bread and the garden is in an even worse state of repair now than it was three months ago.

But the one thing that I was absolutely sure would happen during our forced time together never actually did. I didn’t get sick of my family. I never reached the point where they grated on me or annoyed me to any real extent. We evolved into a routine that while not exactly life-altering, was comforting and familiar and gave us time together to just ‘be’, something quite often neglected when living with young adult children.

I watched them blossom. My daughter found the quiet she needed to begin make decisions about her future that she had previously struggled with, never having the time or space to consider her options between her full-time job in hospitality and her hectic social life. I listened to her plan a strategy and watched her make lists of things she needed to do when the time was right. She became more inquisitive, questioning me about childbirth (much to my distress) and grilled me about exactly how distasteful it really was. We had conversations that may well have never happened apart from lockdown. She rarely complained about not seeing her boyfriend and when the time came that she was allowed see people outside the home, she was hesitant and nervous, not quite willing to leave the cocoon that we had created.

But the one thing that I was absolutely sure would happen during our forced time together never actually did. I didn’t get sick of my family.

The boy child was somewhat different. Once the decision had been made regarding the Leaving Cert, he began to flail a little. Concentrating on his exams had been his distraction and once that was removed, he struggled. And so he began running. And then cycling. I was roused each morning to the sound of the front door banging as he left the house to exercise, something he had never done before. He showed an interest in baking and while it didn’t become a regular occurrence, there were at least two batches of excellent cookies presented to us during the last few months. He began reading newspapers and he was my first point of Covid-related information on a daily basis, having all the stats memorised. And now that it’s over, I have to selfishly admit I will miss it to some extent.

While I am eager to be able to dine out once again and socialise with friends and extended family, I will miss this unremarkable yet memorable chapter of our lives. There is something utterly unifying in the knowledge that we were all in this together. The outside world seemed to stand still for a time and while I am obviously relieved that we have progressed so well in the Covid battle, it’s a bittersweet feeling that leaves me somewhat nostalgic. I may not have achieved any major milestones over the past three months, but watching those closest to me do exactly that has made it all worthwhile.

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