I Hate The Masks

by Megan Ruzomberka
Originally Published: 
I Hate The Masks
Courtesy of Megan Ruzomberka

For over two months, the four of us have been home – me, my husband, and our two young boys.

My husband and I are both fortunate enough to be able to work from home, which is incredibly challenging with daycare closed but we are doing our best to split childcare duties so that we can both continue to hit deadlines and dial into essential conference calls.

We have groceries and Friday night pizza delivered, along with essentials from Amazon.

We play in the yard when the weather cooperates. (Thank goodness for sunny days.)

When it does not, we play games, read books, do simple craft projects, build couch-cushion forts, and spend more time in front of screens than I would like to admit.

I’ve been okay through most of this. Not great, but okay.

I’ve cried here and there, mostly over commercials praising essential workers or when the parade of firetrucks from our small town drives by our house on the way to assist with a kid’s socially distanced birthday celebration. We miss seeing friends and family, the events that have been cancelled, and all the “normal” things we used to do. But all things considered, we are fine – we have food, money, and we are healthy.

But on a recent sunny weekday afternoon, COVID-19 finally broke me. My husband was readying our boys to go for a walk around the block. Socks and shoes, sweatshirts, and masks. As I watched my husband stretch a mask over the face of our sweet, cheery three-year-old, it all became too much.

As my eyes filled with tears, my husband glanced my way, looked puzzled for a second and then quickly understood as I whispered, “I need you to take them.” He hurried the boys outside as I lost it, my tears quickly turning into heavy sobs – the kind that feel like they’ve been held in for a long time.

I hate the masks.

I hate seeing people walk down the street wearing them. I hate the half-covered faces in social media posts. I hate seeing my children wear them.

I hate the masks.

I hate them because they make me think of hospitals and death.

I hate them because I have trouble processing the reality that my boys may have to return to daycare with their teachers wearing them.

I hate them because the adorable crocodile-print one that brought me to tears was made by my cousin, a Broadway costume dresser, who’s currently out of a job.

I hate them because they are a reminder of all of the things we can’t do – visit relatives, go to baseball games, play at the playground, eat at a restaurant.

I hate them because they are an acknowledgement of the fact that we could get sick.

I hate them because I don’t know how long this all will last and it still feels like there are more questions than answers.

I hate them. But I don’t want my boys to hate them like I do.

I hurried them out of the house, not because I didn’t want them to see me cry — they’ve seen that, and it has started good conversations about the virus and how lucky we are to have people working to protect us while we stay safe at home.

I don’t want them to think that masks are bad. Because they’re not. They’re important and they can save lives.

And while they may symbolize all of the things we can’t do, they are also one of the pieces likely to help us regain our freedom and start to return to normal, even if that’s a new normal that looks a bit different than what we are used to.

So while I may hate them, we will wear them.

And fortunately, to three- and five-year-old boys, they are actually kind of fun, for now at least.

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