The part of motherhood they don’t tell you about: feeling the need to keep children’s spirits up

After the year we’ve had, I won’t torture myself about what I should do in 2021

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no point whatsoever in making any new year’s resolutions this year. Like many other people, I end one year full of good intentions of the manner in which I’m going to approach the next and planning the many wonderful things I’m going to achieve and accomplish.

What I fail to typically take into account as I set these ambitious goals is that I haven’t even yet managed to reach the long-standing goal of seeing the end of my washbasket someday. But still I mentally forge ahead, full of plans to do lots of things much more interesting than laundry. Things ultimately destined to change my life for the better until I realise a few weeks in that I’m just too tired or I don’t have time and that’s in fact why I didn’t do it the year before in the first place.

Or indeed that I hate it, which I keep managing to forget every time I decide it’s a good idea to take up running again.

I am not a runner. I was never meant to run. I don’t make nice striding shapes when I run. I don’t feel a sense of achievement after a run – I feel relief. Relief that it’s over. The only thing I ever liked about running is that it was an excuse to get some new suitable attire. Attire that now adorns the bottom of a drawer, worn only on those once-a-year occasions that I have a momentary lapse of memory and forget that I hate running.


So this year I won’t torture myself about all that I should do and the fresh starts that I should make. Because it’s pointless anyway. Aside from everything else, the pandemic will probably scupper them, like it has most of the plans I’ve made since it arrived on our island. Keeping going is more than enough achievement in these pandemic days.


The more challenging thing will be trying to convince the children not to make new year’s resolutions either. This would be different if their resolutions involved picking up their jocks and socks and actually placing them in the aforementioned overflowing laundry basket, but instead it’s likely to be resolutions that involve their latest whim.

This is the part of motherhood they don't tell you about: feeling the need to keep your children's spirits up during a pandemic when they're missing family, friends and outlets

Whether that’s starting karate after watching Daniel-san sort out the bullies, beginning guitar lessons in the hopes of becoming Ireland’s next rock star, or following Bill Bailey’s light-footed steps into ballroom dancing, none are likely to materialise in the form they’d hoped early in the new year. With restrictions in place and numbers that make you want to do your best ostrich impression, 2021 is picking up where 2020 left off.

So it’s best not to go there with plans, resolutions and promises because I cannot face being the deliverer of constant disappointing news again.

“The vaccination rollout is under way,” I almost sing at them in delirious tones, for my benefit almost as much as theirs. This is the part of motherhood they don’t tell you about: feeling the need to keep your children’s spirits up during a pandemic when they’re missing their family, friends and outlets. “It won’t be much longer until we can get back to some normality,” I assure them, or at least I think it’s them I’m assuring.

Pre-Covid life

Social media memories can almost take my breath away these days. Reminders of days when the idea of personal space was barely considered and two metres was a tall man. I can barely remember pre-Covid life and wonder if my younger children in particular have any recollection of it at all. There is no better policer of hand-washing than my youngest child. He is rigid in his compliance and expects no less from anyone else. I look forward to the day when I can convince him that the five-second rule applies to all things again.

We’re starting the year still feeling the effects of the last. Some of us more than others. But things are different now. Yes, lockdown is familiar and horrible and “what were the numbers?” is still a part of our dialogue that even our children are familiar with.

They’re used to plans changing and things being cancelled. They have less confidence in our assurances as a result.

But this lockdown feels different. There is an end in sight and a hope that the vaccine brings.

Still, I’ll shy away from making resolutions or plans for me or the children for a while longer anyway. Unless of course I resolve to go with the flow, which might not be a bad thing in non-pandemic times either.