"Lockdown was easy for me - the next step will be harder."
Not everyone will be able to identify with this.
For many the last few months have been incredibly tough.
And there have been parts of it that I have struggled with too: not being able to see loved ones, our business shut down, homeschooling, and feeling like you're in your own version of Groundhog Day.
But in the round, "lockdown was easy for me - the next step will be harder".
Last night I dreamt about returning to work. I couldn't remember how to turn on our till and there was a huge queue of customers waiting to be served! I could feel the panic building up inside me even in my sleep.
It's no coincidence that today I am returning to work for real! So I'm guessing my dream must reflect my inner fears about how I have been away for so long and that I am completely out of touch!
Not to diminish anyone else's return to "the new normal", but I only returned to work in March for two days after maternity leave since August last year before we all went into lockdown.
So to me, it feels like work has been something very absent from my life for almost a year.
I will never forget this extra time with my boys. The paddling pool fun, the baking, painting rainbows, building lego. They are special memories to me and I hope they feel the same way about this time together.
Leaving them to go to work will be a huge wrench for the next while. We have been living in each others pockets for so long I'm not sure I remember how to be anything other than "mummy".
I might not remember how to turn on the till at work but I do know how to make Chicken Parmigiana, Tuscan Chicken and Annika Latimer's Rhubarb and Custard loaf cake because those are the things I have spent my time learning during lockdown! I have become accustomed to a slower pace: having time to make a meal from scratch in the evenings, having a proper grasp on my oldest child's education because I’m the one teaching him, finely tuning my youngest's daily routine - just having time.
I fear that returning to work will take away that time that I have had to have a conversation with my boys, to hold my baby while I'm making the tea, to take our mornings at our leisure and time to read a bedtime story for just a little longer because there's nowhere to go the next day.
But today looms. A new chapter. A fresh start and time for me to rediscover the parts of myself that I had left behind during lockdown and even further back than that, during maternity leave.
"Lockdown was easy for me - the next step will be harder".
To anyone yet to return to work, maybe you're starting over again today? I hope you rediscover the parts of yourself that you'd left behind for a while, but I hope you can still hold on to time.