Dear 4am……We Must Stop Meeting Like This

We’ve got quite the routine going on in this ‘new normal.’ Wake up, kids do some work first thing (to get it out of the way) and I exercise. They have breakfast, I have a coffee. (I intermittently fast until midday most days, something I’m sure I’ll write more on another time. My love for coffee is another topic I could fill a post or two about: just thinking about it makes me look forward to the morning-the aroma, the texture, the smooth, creamy flavour tantalising my taste buds. But I digress.)

With three children, I rarely get time to myself during the day. They seem to always need me for something or the other – to answer a question, answer another ten questions, watch something (cue spontaneous show of a dance, song, flying car, handstand etc which never goes right the first time. Or the second. Fifth time lucky maybe), referee arguments, listen to them complain about how it’s not fairrrr and the forever hunger. If my kitchen had a door it would be a revolving one, but alas I have an all through kitchen/living room/dining room so I can’t even hide in there to cook and have a glass of vino by myself.

My home is not a quiet one. We laugh loudly, play loudly, squabble loudly (me included). We don’t all go off into our own rooms to quietly do our own thing. If we are awake, we are mostly together. We always eat our meals together on the dinner table. If I sneak off to have a moment or two to relax in the bedroom, someone follows me pretty quickly. Between cooking, eating and just generally life with kids, by the time nightfall comes and we start to wind down for showers, reading and bed, we are all pretty tired. My me time after my little cherubs are asleep, is my sanctuary. I definitely need alone time in my life and I’m not sorry about it. I try to be intentional about my evenings. I journal. Read. I now am thoroughly enjoying writing a blog. I aim not to keep up on the latest coronavirus news but sometimes the temptation is too much, or something pops up and once I start, I can easily spend most of my evening engrossed in the latest numbers around the world.

In the quiet and the darkness, when I’m alone, I’m most susceptible to anxiety rising to the surface. If I keep myself doing other things that I feel are productive (refer to my previous post for my thoughts on productivity during this crisis), I can have a pleasant evening. Sleep is not something that has ever been an issue for me. Usually my head hits the pillow and I’m ko. However, in recent times I’m finding that I can’t really wind down enough to fall asleep at a decent time. I feel tired but not sleepy. It’s easily becoming 1am. Furthermore, I’m finding myself increasingly waking up in the middle of the night. That’s when my mind really goes wild.

Last night for example, well technically this morning but you know what I mean, I woke up with a start in the middle of the night. Looked at the time. 4:12am. Didn’t follow my instinctive move to check my phone and turned over with the intention of just going back to sleep. My brain had other ideas.

I keep asking myself if I should have just got myself organised, packed up and gone.

The one thing that I’ve been grappling with is whether we should continue to stay in Kenya or go back to the U.K. during this crisis. A couple of week ago, the government started instructing all Brits to return. I spoke to the Embassy who advised me that this was applicable to travellers/people on holiday but if you are currently residing in another country, it would be totally my choice if I wanted to return. I decided to stay. For now. My work and their schoolwork is very full on and the four of us settled into a routine. We have a vast field within our compound and the weather is hot. We are able to get all our shopping online with no shortages. The tickets were $2,000 per person. When the borders were closing it was all very sudden. There was only a few days warning. It felt at the time like the right move to stay. However, day by day, as cases and death rates are rising everywhere, my fear is that Kenya could become quite scary if this virus is not contained. The country does not have the capacity to cope with tens of thousands of cases and with so many people here living hand to mouth on a day by day basis, a full lockdown is just not a feasible option. I keep asking myself if I should have just got myself organised, packed up and gone to where my mum and sister are while the cases were still really low in Kenya.

People start filling in the roads, smashing windows. Screaming. Shouting.

At 4am, I vividly saw anarchy. End of days. Looting. Riots. Revolution. It felt chaotic. Terrifying. I saw people fighting on the streets. In my half dream, half imaginative story, I decided that it would be best to try and get back to London. The Embassy are very helpful and we manage to get on a flight. But now with this craziness happening, making that trip to the airport is petrifying. I get a driver that we know to take us. The traffic is insane. People start filling in the roads, smashing windows. Screaming. Shouting. The driver runs off so I’m left to take over at the helm of the wheel. Superwoman aka me takes over and I knock someone over in my haste to get out of this madness and there is now a mob after us. How can I protect us? How do I protect my kids? Why oh why didn’t I get to London when I had the chance? How could I have been so stupid? It’s all too much to bare. My heart is racing, I’m sweating, hands over my face and I make the decision that first thing in the morning I’m getting onto the phone to the embassy to plea with them to help get us out of here.

I wake up in the morning to the sound of the kids talking at the table doing their activity books. The sun is shining brightly. I get up. Exercise. They make their breakfast. I make my coffee. Whilst my tastebuds are being tantalised, I recall my 4am journey. It feels like a distant dream. Well, more like a nightmare. I easily shake it off and the day goes by in a whir of commotion, laughter, whining, eating and Netflix.

Those 4am thoughts aren’t reality. The disturbing thing is that they also aren’t just a random nightmare. Along with the anxiety that inevitably comes with a new virus sweeping the globe, security is a genuine concern here. The number of cases in the U.K. is a genuine concern about being there. Not to mention the risks of travelling and commuting. Actually being on a plane is a whole different anxiety provoking scenario which I’m hoping will not decide to meet me at 4am on another night.

We make decisions to the best of our ability with the information that we have available to us at the time.

Under the scorching African sun, with the birds chirping and the leaves on the trees dancing to the rhythm of the light breeze, it’s so very easy to forget about what’s going on outside these walls. I keep grounded by reminding myself I that there is no right or wrong here. We make decisions to the best of our ability with the information that we have available to us at the time. At the time. This is applicable to this current dilemma that I’m facing, but also to every other decision that we have to make in life, whether big or small.

How do I know what I should do? I don’t. All I can do is make a decision based on the information that I have. 4am me would have had us evacuated out of here in a shot. 4pm me knows that we are as safe as safe can be for now. I’m just really hoping that I don’t meet 4am when I go to sleep tonight. Or any other night. Unless I’m crawling in from a wild night out, (which I fully intend to do just as soon as I can), 4am, you can do one. You are not welcome here. I need my sleep. And my sanity.

1 thought on “Dear 4am……We Must Stop Meeting Like This

  1. Utterly gripping -engaging content. I adore your flair and storytelling abilities!
    So much I can relate to, however, of course, some that I cannot.
    I look forward to keeping up with your blog, moreover indulging in your prior posts with a beautiful cup of coffee in my ‘sanctuary’ time.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Love to you and yours x

    Like

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