I was recently wondering how soon it would be before I read a book that had a Covid-19 theme or backdrop, not expecting to be, well, right now. Life in Pieces is writer and TV presenter Dawn O’Porter’s lockdown diary and while there is something slightly surreal about reading this now as (in the UK anyway) we are on the cusp of going back into lockdown, there is also something wildly comforting about reading another person’s thoughts on this crazy and emotional experience.
Opening sentence: Dear 2020, Earlier this year I got myself a paper diary.
Can relate, Dawn
Life in Pieces has sprung from Dawn’s writing on Patreon, an online platform where she regularly blogs her lockdown diaries (plus other things too). Unlike Dawn, I am not married to a movie star and living in LA, I am however the mother of 2 boys the same age as Dawn’s, so could actually relate hard to a lot of her feelings and stories about full-time parenting during lockdown. From the 5 year old who never stops talking to potty-training a 2-year old, I was going through the same.
I also liked her heartfelt reasoning for making an effort to get dressed most days, to keep a sense of normality and structure for both yourself and the children in your life:
Because our lives essentially become other people’s memories, and it starts with how you look.
Her stories and thoughts about raising boys, what kind of mother she is, how having to look after small children 24/7 is actually quite boring and you run out of ‘activities’ after about 30 mins all struck huge chords with me. As did the way she acknowledges that in reality, if you are far more used to a work / child split in your life, then sometimes you need a drink or, in Dawn’s case, something stronger… (it should be said that weed is legal in California, where Dawn lives. Not so much the case here. Sadly.)
I’m never looking to be off my head when I’m around my kids, all I’m aiming for is for a slight buzz to numb the agony of having to look after them.
This was all exactly what I needed to hear right now. Those days you feel you’re failing as a parent, you suddenly don’t feel as guilty about when your read other people feeling and experiencing the same thing too.
Times are changing
Dawn talks very eloquently about the Black Lives Matter protests that happened across the world. Another unifying event that we all experienced and learnt from. I had similar realisations to Dawn about how to be a better ally and to really make sure the seismic shift is not forgotten or left unactioned.
2020 saw the world shut down. Voices that had been screaming to be heard were finally the loudest we could hear.
She also discusses, openly and heartbreakingly, the death of her friend Caroline Flack. As well as dealing with the global pandemic, she is going through personal grief.
Lessons to learn
When isolation is over, let’s materialise as a better version of what we were before.
Life in Pieces is a funny, friendly, honest read that gave me things to think about and, in many ways, was so relatable. It often felt like Dawn’s words were giving me a huge, reassuring hug. These may be strange, difficult times, but we’re all in it together. (I have also made a note to read Demi Moore’s autobiography after Dawn sings its praises.)
I have previously read Dawn’s novels The Cows and So Lucky and the charming tone of voice that came through in those is also here in her diaries. An impactful, of-the-moment read that leaves you with a glimmer of hope that out of the chaos of this year, maybe some goodness can spring. And well, we’ve all gotta have a little hope right now.