There is a meme doing the rounds on social media asking people to describe 2020 as a food. Many responses are typically foods that many came to despise as a child; however my response was a little more, um, quirky.
For the Friends enthusiasts out there I reference episode ‘the one where Ross got high’...
Rachel: “It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First, there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch. Raspberries, more ladyfingers. Then beef sautéed with peas and onions. Then more custard and then bananas and then I just put some whipped cream on top.”
2020 started well; a lovely combined mix of ladyfingers, Jelly (Jam) and custard. My Husband (Andrew) and my 2 year old Daughter (Sabrena) were in a good routine and we were looking forward to a long overdue family holiday with the grandparents.
Then the beef sauteed with peas and onions layer arrived and life changed. The holiday was cancelled, Sabrena’s nursery shut down and Andrew invaded my study as he too got accustomed to working from home.
The summer was particularly hard. Initially nursery opened for 3 hours a day and the disparity of our employer’s 'flexible' policy around the pandemic and childcare was frustrating. Whereas here in MoJ I was trusted to work what I could, Andrew's private sector employer was less sympathetic - or at least that is how it seemed to me.
Our nursery then decided to close doors completely over the summer holidays. We quickly found a childminder and all went well for about 1.5 weeks but then the childminder was suspended by Ofsted! Luckily we found another and luckily Sabrena loved her. What struck me the most in this period was the disparity in the rules for childminders vs nurseries around toys, activities and provision of hot food.
Things got back to some form of routine from September, Sabrena went back to nursery, Andrew became the sole occupant of the study and I got a desk space in the front room. Our hurdle changed from juggling childcare to that of Andrew’s shift work as his employer opened up their contact hours and he started to take incoming calls after 6pm.
Each day has presented a challenge. I haven't touched on the impact of our mental health as we both worry about the other, the lack of social interaction with family, the lack of ‘own time’ with the last 8 months focused on performing as an Employee and Parent; but not Husband, Wife, or Individual.
But we have adapted. We talk more, we laugh together and more importantly we have shared watching our Daughter grow into a very independent and strong willed toddler!
And without the support of the various MoJ networks, colleagues and my people manager it would have been worse.
So, to finish, whilst together Rachel’s trifle was a disaster, separately the layers are edible… and I’m looking forward to the banana and cream topping that will be Christmas and New Year!
"Ross: It tastes like feet!
Joey: Well, I like it.
Ross: Are you kidding?
Joey: I mean, what's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!"