Stop the Ride, I Want to Get Off!
“Stop the ride, I want to get off.” This was becoming a mantra of mine. A way I would respond to an everyday “How’s things?” An expletive used to express my exhaustion. A response to sum up my wellbeing. But now the ride has stopped. A bone shaking, juddering, teeth filling rattling, hand on the emergency release... STOP.
Gone is the daily commute punctuated by drop offs to nursery and breakfast club; gone is the eating a biscuit masquerading as breakfast in the car; gone is the rushing into work trying to mask my lateness at briefings by stuffing my coat onto a chair as I stare at a blank laptop. And all this before 8.30am. There’s no after school football training sandwiched between the weekly after work Aldi big shop. No rushing to buy birthday presents for children whose names I can’t remember and whose parties will punctuate my weekend. No calls squeezed into family and friends on the hands free as we drive back from a swimming lesson, finishing conversations in the dark with my engine off, sitting outside the house.
So I’ve got what I always wished for. For the ride to stop. For me to get off….albeit in a surreal pandemic sort of way. Curtailed by the rules and anxiety and the turbulent family emotions, I have actually found some time for reflection or perspective or maybe it’s just actually being able to think in a non-time pressured way. Why did I want to get off? What did I actually want? More time to build relationships with my sons, more time to see my parents and family, the old cliché of more time to appreciate what was important in life? To actually do something that means something to me? Was it all the scaffolding of our modern lives actually holding me back or was it just me? What has stepping away from the tracks actually looked like?
Well, I know it looks like the smile on my seven year old son’s face when he realises I can sit and play cars without running off to do a hundred other things. It’s the daily dandelion my three year old brings me when I’m standing in the kitchen supervising home school and attempting to work myself: Reminding me to pause. It’s watching birds eat our toast crumbs near the back door in the morning. It’s standing in the back garden and the smell of the neighbour’s tea drifting across giving me a much needed injection of nostalgia. It’s speaking face to face (electronically, of course) to my parents, sister, brothers and friends more often and more meaningfully and more honestly.
But the cogs are slowly being oiled and starting to turn again and soon the ride will be back in full swing and what will I have learnt? What will be different? Will I go back to how it all was? Do I want to get on the same carriage? Do I want to be on the ride at all? Can I make this ride different? More enjoyable? More manageable? The ticket booth is nearly open and the ride is beckoning with more questions than answers but one thing is certain: I need to hold onto to this feeling. The feeling of chubby three year old arms around my neck. The feeling of a young boy’s head leaning gently against my shoulder. The feeling of space to think. The feeling of hope.
Chrissie Price is a Liverpool-born graduate in English and Politics, with a rewarding career in teaching. She is passionate about passing on her love for words to the next generation of writers.