• Marie Bateson

Groundhog Day

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been five days since I last blogged. The reason? Every day is bloody Groundhog Day over here. Nothing new happens. The only thing remotely notable about these past few days is that, when Easter rolled around, as it tends to do every year, we actually marked the event.

As bonafide heathens, we don't normally do anything for Easter other than attend an Egg Hunt if someone else has organised it. This year, we put on the glad rags, popped yet another bottle of cava, ate slightly more chocolate than we do on a regular day, had a group Zoom call with my family, and then watched Andrea Bocelli sing in front of the empty Duomo in Milan, which definitely tugged at the heart strings.

We even decorated eggs. Not real ones, mind. We are running low and our next Mercadona order doesn't arrive until this Thursday. Instead, we converted the leftover cardboard from our rocket/castle into eggs and painted those, though we only managed about three before the kids lost interest.

The sun has been out in full force these past few days, and when I'm up on the terrace soaking up the vitamin D, I can almost pretend that life is normal. I was even guilty of a rather tone-deaf social media post claiming that lockdown's not so bad when the sun is out. I mean... it's not, for those few hours that you can lie in the sun and play music and drink yourself into a tipsy haze of good humour.

However, as should be completely obvious, that's not the reality of lockdown for the majority of our time. I'm not sunbathing and drinking all day, even though my photos might make it look that way. I can't really devote myself to becoming a fully-fledged alcoholic because I've got two kids in the flat. I've discovered that a couple of drinks in the late afternoon make a full day of parenting far more bearable, but that drinking after dinner is pretty pointless because we go to bed a couple of hours after the kids do anyway.

Someone in our mums' FB group here in Valencia stated that she wasn't posting any photos of her family enjoying time in their large garden because it seemed insensitive considering that so many families in Spain are now stuck in small apartments with little to no outdoor space. While I admire her thoughtfulness, I'm still going to post photos of my family when we're enjoying ourselves on the terrace.

The alternative is photos of us slobbing around our absolute bomb-site of an apartment, while I shout at the kids to "PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, clear your plates off the table, BRUSH YOUR TEETH and no, you cannot wear your onesie all day every day because it's becoming a biohazard." Every mum already knows that is the truth of our day-to-day life, I don't need to post photos of it, do I?

Besides, everyone knows that social media is the farthest thing possible from the whole truth of a situation, whether or not there's a pandemic on. I boot up social media to escape reality, not to be reminded of it. I'd much rather see pictures of my friends' families enjoying themselves and looking relatively human than see pictures of that which I'm trying to ignore in my own apartment. One friend commented on my Easter post that it looked like we were enjoying a lovely holiday. That is exactly what we were trying to pretend we were doing, at least for a couple of hours.

Also, my Instagram account is linked to Chatbooks, this absolutely wonderful service that sends you a little photo album after every sixty photos you post. It's about 10 euros per album, requires zero time or effort beyond posting a pic to Instagram every now and then which most of us do anyway, and means that my photos don't disappear into oblivion after I've taken them. My kids adore flipping through the albums when they arrive, as do I. I keep them in a stack on the coffee table and I'm always catching the kids having a little browse through the photos and talking about our family members scattered across the globe. They albums are cheap enough and require such little effort that I don't have to be precious about them. If the kids accidentally trash one, I can get that specific album reprinted at a low cost. I've been a customer since shortly before Adella was born, and can't recommend the service enough.

However, the Chatbooks link does mean that I'm going to try to avoid posting hideous photos to Instagram because I don't want to pay to have those printed and preserved for posterity. I can go through each album before it goes to print and edit out the ugly photos if I want to, but I'm far too lazy for that. I love Chatbooks because I don't have to edit photo albums, so if that means I can't post crap photos to Instagram, that's fine by me. I'll post them on my stories, instead.

The mum who is refraining from posting pics of her family in the sunshine has her heart in the right place, but, honestly, we're all grown-ups - we can handle it. Everyone in Spain is rolling their eyes while looking at photos of the rest of the world under 'lockdowns' that allow them to leave their homes, but we still wouldn't wish for people in other, more lenient, countries to be in our situation. Spaniards are some of the warmest, most generous-hearted people I've ever met. They want to see friends and family enjoying life as much as possible.

Sure, my friends are stuck in apartments in the city centre are pining for some outdoor space right now and I really hope sunny pics aren't making this damn lockdown harder for them. But I just don't think my friends are the bitter sort who don't want people to enjoy anything if they can't it enjoy it themselves. Besides, I know my city-dweller friends wouldn't want to live anywhere else but right smack in the middle of our gorgeous city. When normal life resumes, the entire city will once again be their back garden.

Fingers crossed that return to normal life is not too far away.

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