Canterbury: The New Normal
Rachel Blake from successful child furniture and design company Mocka and mother of three reflects on the 'new normal' for Christchurch.
Wow, what a year it has been for everyone in Christchurch and New Zealand! At times it has been downright scary, at other times there has been a deep sense of uncertainty and fragility around many things we have taken for granted for a long time - like solid ground! However, more than anything, I am constantly amazed at how positive people have remained in the face of adversity. For us, we have grown as a family and become really focussed on what is important.
The first earthquake in September 2010 was probably the scariest for the kids - being thrown out of bed in the middle of the night, with no electricity and the constant aftershocks as we huddled under the kitchen table. We didn't know anything about earthquakes - our preschooler didn't even know what an earthquake was. As parents, the hardest thing was that we didn't really know what to do - we put on a brave face but didn't really know how to answer their questions, so we have all learnt together!
Like everyone, we assumed the September earthquake was "the big one" and never suspected that they would get worse. And it did get much worse, especially when we learned that people had died and our city as we knew it was destroyed. Looking back, it is amazing how people have adapted. To begin with, everything was so up in the air - pretty quickly people made conscious decisions to move forward and with the benefit of 12 months now behind us since 22 February, significant progress has been made. There is just a really, really long way to go!
At a personal level, our now 6 year old knows exactly what to do in an earthquake - go into your turtle! The children are stronger and have learnt to appreciate the "normality" of life after living without power or water and regular interruptions at random times of the day and night (they often seem to be at night!). I am convinced our children are more resilient than their parents at times but also worry that they have had to experience more than they should at their ages.
The sense of community within our school and all over Christchurch is amazing - there is a lifelong bond created through what we hope is a unique experience. By comparison to many, we were exceptionally lucky but that doesn't stop many memories that will be burned on the brain forever, like 450 children on a school field waiting to be collected, screaming as another big aftershock hit.
Like any big event in life, this has caused us and our wider family to reassess priorities and to pursue opportunities that we may not have considered had this not occurred. I am so proud of our children and how they have responded. They know that life can be hard at times, that Mum and Dad can't always help them and it has given them a mental toughness which will help them throughout their lives.
With our children, I have a strong need to know exactly where everyone is at all times. Sometimes I wonder whether I need a full engineers report on their friends' houses before they go visiting! In all seriousness, the simple pleasures in life are always the best and stable ground under your feet is a bonus! Family, friends (and wine) have helped us get through things so far. We are in a very happy space as a family and excited about what the future holds for our broken but not beaten little city.
Written by Rachel Blake, MOCKA www.mocka.co.nz