I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror today. I didn’t recognise the face staring back at me. New lines had emerged. With hairdressers still closed my hair is now a completely different colour. My face is slightly rounder as I haven’t been exercising or caring what food enters my body. My skin is a paler tone than usual.
The cracks are beginning to appear. I was finally able to drop the cheery mum mask I applied every morning because I was finally alone. I stood alone in my house. I tried and failed to remember the last time this had occurred.
I had just dropped my children off at school for the first time in over seven months.
Watch: Thank you to masks. Post continues below.
The house seemed eerily quiet. It was strange. I thought I would feel elated. I imagined myself cartwheeling away from the drop off and showering myself in champagne. I had counted down to this day for months. A small step in the return to normal.
But it wasn’t normal. Nothing is normal anymore. I couldn’t enter the school grounds. I waited outside in a mask and watched as they had their temperatures checked.
My daughter cried as she was terrified to pop the bubble we had been living in these past seven months. I took her arm and carefully drew a texta heart in the crook of her elbow. I used to do this in her hand when she was little but I knew in the new normal it would quickly be washed and sanitised away.
“When you miss me, press on the heart and you’ll feel closer to me. And I’ll do the same. It’s like a virtual hug.”
New versions of hugs. New rules. New routines. New everything. This year has brought so much new. So much change.
I have never yearned more for the old.
I was never a hugger. An introvert to my core, I found phone calls aggressive and confronting. I cheered when self serve checkouts arrived and more drive thru options became available. “Yes!” I thought.
“Less awkward small talk with strangers!”
More and more communication was done via text, email.