A post about why I love podcasts and which shows are seeing me through.
Over the last year or so I have been consuming podcasts as regularly as I watch TV or read books. I like that I can listen almost anywhere or doing anything. It was a revelation that I prefer listening to podcasts when running to listening to music. They hold my attention for longer. I also listen when driving alone, cooking, walking, in the bath, ironing. They are a reliable and comforting presence when my mind needs to be channelled into being occupied, but not overwhelmed.
I work alone, run alone and spend most of my days off alone right now and I like the effortless company – having chatter alongside me that I don’t need to find the energy to engage in. Arranging to meet a friend for a walk or to catch up on the phone needs coordination and frankly it’s been a long year of walking and video calls. I like letting new perspectives and ideas wash over me and I can choose the level of attention I want to give it without worrying about appearing rude.
I have noticed that I like to listen to podcasts led by females most often. I live with two boys and I definitely miss the female company of my friends and colleagues. My friendship Whatsapp groups are a place of comfort. Where a few words can say so much and I am just, known. I have realised that it is the familiar format and reassuring shorthand that I also seek through my listening.
A list of things said around me, and probably most other girls growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s Scotland:
- Stop showing off
- Little girls who ask, don’t get
- Don’t talk back
- Adults are talking
- No one likes a show-off
- Who does she think she is?
- They’re full of themselves
- If they were a bar of chocolate, they’d eat themselves
- (Sarcastically) I love me, who do you love?
- Good girls are quiet
- Oh she loves herself (that was NOT a compliment)
I think we have all discovered new things that annoy us this year. Change has been imposed on us and many of us do not feel the same control over our lives as we are used to. It’s no wonder that we are all feeling a bit more irritable.
Mostly I have stayed calm with all the changes. I started wearing a face covering before it became mandatory to get used to it, and I am now. I have followed the lockdown guidance and do my best to maintain social distancing. I leave my details when eating out for track and trace and I am fastidious about hand-washing/sanitising. I don’t like home working much but I have learned how to stay connected and motivated.
I see others around me struggling – either being uncomfortable or reluctant, or just being overwhelmed by the volume and speed of changes. Many are still too frightened or vulnerable to venture out. I can understand that, Coronavirus may have been suppressed, but it is still very much around. We can see that by all the restrictions still around us.
It was Sunday afternoon and I was stressed out. I was overwhelmed, and Leo was crying. He was looking at me like I had utterly betrayed him. I cuddled him and told him I was sorry, I was just trying to help him, but I had got it wrong. How had this dramatic scene come about? I had taken him to a baby swimming class.
Leo had not been swimming this year until we went to the hotel pool last month. He had been ill, and we had been busy at weekends. He hadn’t enjoyed the hotel pool – it was cold and noisy. I knew swimming was very good for him – the water would support him, and he would enjoy greater physical freedom than he is used to. I was determined that we would get back into swimming with him.
A visit to our local leisure pool went better and I was looking forward to the swimming class. It takes place in a hydrotherapy pool which is great for his muscle tone and there would be no older kids jumping around and shrieking. I had a vision of a lovely mother and son bonding moment in a cosy pool while Leo grew confident in the water.
The reality was 30 minutes of fast-paced activities, feeling like I didn’t have enough hands and a very upset Leo. I felt quite stressed trying to keep up and I felt very guilty that Leo was having such a rotten time. At the end of the class, the stress subsided, and I felt very upset. First of all, I felt very bad that I had put Leo through such a miserable time. Then I felt disappointed that I had failed to find the right class for him. Finally, I felt demoralised. I had acted with the best of intentions and I had upset my son.
I am what you might call a ‘summer person’. I love light nights and going out without a coat. I used to feel dragged into autumn kicking and screaming. Wishing for one more day dashing about in flip-flops. But not this year. While autumn always felt like the end, this year it feels like a new start. Like a new term, but for family life. While I used to crave excitement, now I like order, routine and knowing my plan from one week to the next.
Our transition from spring to summer was sheer relief. Leo spent eight weeks of spring in hospital and he was discharged in May. He had been gravely ill – more so than I would allow myself to reconcile with at the time – and were just so grateful that he was well enough to go home. I looked up and noticed that the trees were full and green, the sun was higher in the sky and the grass was regularly overgrown.