Andrea Mara

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Snapshot of a Woman Eking Out Summer

Lockdown ate our summer. It’s a small thing in the bigger scheme; an it-is-what-it-is kind of thing. But still. I spent July worrying that the schools might not open in September and that we’d be back to homeschooling, then by the time it was announced that schools would open, and we could finally relax and enjoy summer, it was time to buy the back-to-school shoes.

Every morning during the first week of August, I told the kids we’d have to make the most of what’s left of the holidays. And every afternoon, we were still at home, still talking about making the most of what’s left of the holidays. Still doing what we did during lockdown-proper; hanging around the house. Maybe it’s because we’re out of practice, maybe it’s work, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s because it’s hard to find things a twelve-year-old, an eleven-year-old and an eight-year-old all want to do. Or maybe it’s just this confusing new life where we don’t know where we can go or what’s open or how we’re feeling about any of it from one minute to the next. (In fact, since I started this post a week ago, three counties have gone into lockdown, everything’s changed again, and I’m worried those school shoes will gather dust.)

Anyway, while we’re not doing a very good job of making the  most of the summer holidays, here’s what we are doing:

What we’re watching

Glee. Glee will forever remind me of lockdown, but in a good way. My twelve-year-old and I have been watching it together each evening since mid-April, and with only eighteen episodes left we are rationing it. It’s a comfort blanket, the place we connect each evening no matter how the day has been, and while it’s a bit 14+ at times, its messages are mostly very positive. Bonus points: my daughter lets me sing along with all the songs.

My middle child has just discovered and is really enjoying Reeling in the Years – a perfect synopsising of recent Irish political and cultural history in handy hour-long episodes. 6:30 pm on RTÉ1.

The grown-ups are watching Dear White People. I don’t know why I never watched this before – it’s very good and I think I want to go to college in America now. It looks like non-stop craic with almost no classes.

In recent weeks and months we also loved Succession (AMAZING), Giri/ Haji (very good), The Politician (only okay, but second series better), and The Sinner S3 (hmmm).

What I’m reading

I’m reading Dead To Her by Sarah Pinbourgh (not too far in yet) and also Under a Skellig Sky by Breda Joy (started it when I forgot to bring Dead to Her to the hairdresser.) I’ve just finished Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams which is excellent.

What we’re eating

Triple-chocolate cake made by eldest for husband’s birthday (recipe here). Baking interest has waned in recent weeks, but it kept them going in the early days and kept me in cake. Letting your five-year-old loose in the kitchen, regardless of mess, pays off eventually.

We also had a fab Mexican meal in Acapulco on George’s Street in Dublin recently. It’s sad to see how many businesses have closed for good, but heartening to see so many others open and carrying on socially distanced business as (almost) usual.

What I’m wearing

Same as everyone else – a mask.

And every summer dress I own each time the sun comes out, because we’re still pretending it’s summer.

What they’re reading

The new Murder Most Unladylike (final in series) is just out – if your child likes mysteries, these books by Robin Stevens are very, very good. My youngest had a Goosebumps binge for two weeks and is now taking a breather with Timmy Failure. My eldest is reading Looking for Alaska by John Green which she says isn’t as unputdownable as some of his other books but I suspect just like lockdown ate our summer, late nights are eating her reading.

What I’m listening to

Long Bright River by Liz Moore is my favourite audio book of the year so far – absolutely brilliant. I’m currently listening to An American Marriage which is very good, and recently listened to My Dark Vanessa – uncomfortable but compelling and by the time I got to the end, I was glad I’d listened.

What I’m drinking

Five to six coffees a day. Need to start weaning down before they go back to school and we have to go to bed by midnight.

What I’m buying

Three pairs of school shoes. One (insanely expensive) secondary school uniform. Many school books. One (insanely expensive) tablet for secondary school. One (cheap as chips) new schoolbag.  And masks. More masks. 17 nail-biting days to go. Godspeed.











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