Our youngest son turned 6 yesterday. His father and I have spent most of his life unravelling strings that tied us together as a couple and fortifying a newfound friendship. Poor wee James was the most difficult of all four pregnancies, yet he was hands down the happiest, easiest, most cheerful baby imaginable. He was clearly smiling on sonogram images and as soon as he was born, he settled down for a sleep in the arms of a dear friend who was a nurse on the ward’s arms. He shone his signature serene smile at her as we chatted cheerfully together in the wee small hours of the morning of April 22nd 2014.
My new, and very patient and gentle partner and I were overseas while the world was falling apart in the face of the current pandemic. We were the third flight to land from overseas when screening measures were introduced here, and we took our responsibility to isolate very seriously. After discussions with the nanny, my ex and the kids, Damon and I went North to our peaceful property perched high on a hill amidst 50 acres of trees and gentle breezes.
We spent our 2 weeks quarantine together sans children, and only had to venture to the end of our road in the car to get Internet/4G signal.
Since returning to the family home and flinging myself whole heartedly into my role as mother and matriarch of this happy little kibbutz-esque acre of solitude, we have discussed at length if/how and when we would return Jamie to the family fold, while clearly and completely observing the rules and regulations of level four. So, after several weeks of separation, my son was returned to my arms, and will not be leaving my bubble now until, I am assuming, level two lockdown. His return has made me feel whole, grounded, content and complete.
Jamie was born into chaos. I went back to “work” less than 36 hours after he arrived, and rushed around founding, funding, and forcing my own brand of activism on the world whenever and wherever the opportunity arose.
Now, after being attached more or less at the hip to him from his 6:30am arrival in our room, through to his 7pm bedtime ritual, I am not, and never will be, the same person as I was when I left for the last trip of it’s kind of my lifetime on February 27th 2020.
After reading, singing, and snuggling with my sweet little morsel of magic, he often tries it on and negotiates for another glass of water and sometimes gives me crocodile tears and explains “something is really bugging me, and I am trying to understand what it is” and I kiss his soft little six year old cheeks and we talk about his feelings.
“You make me feel safe, I feel safe when we are together.” He explains to his hot mess mother in earnest, and I hear him and hold him until he concedes his acceptance of the fact he really must sleep in his own bed even though it requires some bravery and effort to settle in and let sleep take hold.
This conversation with my son elucidated feelings I was having trouble putting into words, and am now risking the judgement of anyone who takes the time to read this by admitting, I really have never been happier in my adult life than I have been since this surreal and undeniably scary series of events has kicked off.
Speaking with a few select friends and colleagues, burnout among us is common. Some of us really, truly needed a break, and never would have slowed our pace without being forced to do so.
Back in November I hosted an overly ambitious, over-catered, overly complicated, overly stressful, and incredibly over budget series of events that quite honestly broke me. I’m still working through it all in therapy and recovering from the extreme mental and physical fallout from not feeling heard or honoured, rather just paraded around like a prize pig and forced to foot the bill for something I really could have and should have had far more creative control over. But five months after the fact, I regret nothing as it was a swan song for the ages and a unique opportunity for me to see good and greed, compassion and cowardice, and most importantly and appropriately, to show the world how unbelievably successful our plucky little nation has been at collaboration and innovation in electrification of transport.
New Zealand has been an absolute crown jewel in the international revolution toward energy independence and carbon divestment in our light fleet. These are facts, there is plenty of evidence to substantiate my claims, and it was an honour to play a small part in that narrative here and around the world.
But all of that striving and stress is not a place where I feel safe. This isn’t an admission of defeat or an overly dramatic exit, it is just my first opportunity to say openly that priorities change, and I am truly out of puff after throwing myself so extensively, authentically, and precariously in a critical path I was never equipped to manage.
Power and/or money are something some people will do anything for. Security and a sense of importance is paramount in some people’s journey. These people keep popping up and I simply cannot manage dealing with them. I can’t shake the need/instinct to see the best in people and extend a constant stream of the “benefit-of-the-doubt” serum until every conceivable last chance I can extend them has run out. I am not ruthless, crafty, cunning, or ambitious enough to play in that paddle pool any longer. Business the way it was done in the old system could be cruel and calculating and I am now far more interested in a new normal. I feel that my place in this new trajectory is going to look different than the somewhat eccentric, “larger than life” brand I have projected over the years. It took all the resilience I could muster to keep up with the chutzpah filled hurricane I felt I had to be.
Now, all I want, is to feel safe. To create and fortify that safety for my three amazing kids and a very small handful of trusted and true friends and family moving forward.
I want to keep the pace of peace that I’ve enjoyed for the past 8 weeks. I want to cook, create, plant and plan. I want to be available to my beautiful bubble and be very fussy, fastidious and firm in my choice of tribe and endeavors from here on in. I want to share what I have clearly and completely without depleting myself to a state of PTSD. And I want to see the other empathetic activists I have known, loved, and respected doing something similar.
In conclusion, this has been a strange and surreal time for so many of us. Here in New Zealand we are blessed beyond belief to have a kind, strong, science-based assembly of leadership. We are poised on what I hope will be a return to a thriving middle class, a closing of the chasm between haves and have nots, and access to opportunities to enjoy much more safe and satisfying pace and path for every individual, not just a lucky few.
My role in this new normal, is to be enough. To know when to say when, and to continue to prioritize the most powerful forces in my life. My special people, this amazing and magically mending planet, and the chance to slow down the pace to a level that allows me to really enjoy the simple and significant things like birdsong or an afternoon nap. Not a day passes that I do not feel blessed to have these choices in a very real way.
Wherever you are and however you are feeling, I wish you enough too, and strength and safety as we navigate an uncertain future that is palpably pregnant with hope and possibilities.
Thanks for reading.