All I wanted was to give her a hug on her birthday, look her in the blue eyes, and inform her that nothing in my life has been more precious than being her mother. But when our daughter turned 21 on Friday, perhaps neither of us was with her – neither me, nor her sister, nor her father.
More than 20 months since Covid-19 first reached us here in Australia, we are more restricted than ever. Almost two-thirds of the nation are confined, our lives and livelihoods in jeopardy and our moods are unraveling.
So we watched our daughter – at college three hours away in Canberra – open her presents via Zoom. Technology could also be useful, but it’s not a way to mark a significant anniversary. She cried when she heard a letter from her Nana in New Zealand. ‘When am I going to see you?’ she said to herself softly. Unfortunately none of us can tell.
When our daughter turned 21 on Friday, perhaps neither of us was with her – neither me, nor her sister, nor her father. (In the photo, Angela Mollard and her daughter on her daughter’s nineteenth birthday)
As the rest of the world opens up, we are chained by stay-at-home orders and cut off from the endless world.
Australia, remember, has closed its borders in an effort to remain completely free from the disease. At first it worked.
For many, life has gone about as smoothly thanks to our strict Zero Covid response – and how happy we have been with ourselves.
But that was then. Now businesses are going to the wall, police patrol the seaside in helicopters and on horseback, and pissed off locals are protesting, shoving each other and laughing if someone gets too locked in the grocery store.
The virus is spreading rapidly, hardly anyone is safe and only 17% of residents have been totally bitten. You can only leave your home to do important jobs, shop for groceries, work out or seek a medical exam – we are like the UK in the spring of last year.
ADF soldiers have been sent to Sydney (pictured) to implement the lockdown in poor suburbs of the metropolis that could be at the center of Australia’s growing Covid epidemic
Sydney has struggled to encourage poorer areas to get vaccinated against Covid, with just 13% vaccinated against 25% in the richer elements. Pictured: Police and soldiers implement the lockdown in Sydney
The Navy was introduced to help police carry out orders. The fines for infractions are heavy. Not to put on a compulsory mask is to invite contempt from the public.
We are as trapped as a koala in a bush home.
The only way, we are told, is vaccination, but Australia’s so-called ‘rambling’ is bogged down in delivering mediocre points and messages – not to mention apathy and outright resistance. .
I’m counting the months since I last noticed my daughter, but it may be years before I can see my father and mother in New Zealand, my brother in Japan, and my nieces in the Land of Wales.
Even one of Australia’s most high-profile breakfast hosts, whose job description calls for him to be the happy face of the nation, gave up on pretending on Friday.
Australia, remember, has closed its borders in an effort to remain completely free from the disease. At first it worked. (Pictured is Angela Mollard and her 5-year-old daughter at Manly Beach)
Karl Stefanovic summed up the nation’s ideas, saying he was “done” and just wanted to go to the footy where he wanted “to have three meat pies and 45 schooners” of beer. He will have to wait a bit.
It’s a year since the debacle of A-level grades in Britain. Now we are embarking on a review fiasco of our staff. Two weeks ago, my young daughter, in her last year of faculty, had to take her first exams. She sort of accomplished her group drama effectiveness while in a mask. The rest of his exams have been postponed until next Monday …
Yet, as of this writing, the federal government has changed its thinking yet again. Under no circumstances will she return to the faculty and be able to continue her studies from home.
No one can say how it will be examined, graded or certified for college. What she knows for sure is that she gave up her plans to move to the UK to work as a teaching assistant – a passing ceremony for many young Australians.
We may have saved lives in Australia so far – deaths from Covid stand at 938 – but livelihoods depend on stability. One in five hospitality, arts and recreation staff in New South Wales were made redundant in the first half of July.
My income dropped 45% and I had to tighten my belt, but a good accountant friend informed me that half of his small business buyers were disappearing due to the foreclosure – although some didn’t. have not realized.
In Melbourne, where residents have just entered their sixth lockdown, rows of shops are barricaded, the sad and painful evidence of a disease that strikes in many ways.
While you can protect yourself from Covid by locking yourself behind your front door, it is more sustainable to maintain your psychological well-being as the rest of the world picks up.
Cinema and literature have taught us that standard tales turn from ‘problem’ through ‘adversity’ to ‘redemption’ – a Covid tale now reaching its conclusion in Britain and America.
Here, it’s a whole different story: the first victories made our later failures all the more lasting to bear. There is no “bow” story, simply a dismal fall from success and complacency to complacency and distress. Even the temporary respite offered by the Olympics ends this weekend. “Let us all rejoice, for we are one and free,” our national anthem urged during the medal ceremonies. But we are neither “one” nor “free”.
We traded our relaxed attitudes for worry, forbidden to travel within 10 km of our properties. Forget the great landscapes that we loved a lot.
And just what kind of Australia will we have left?
Police are testing IDs to ensure seaside guests stay within the train radius stipulated in lockdown guidelines
Covid toughens us up, dividing a nation of laid-back larrikins who used to fight over a beer at a barbecue.
Anger is mounting everywhere. Eight districts north of Sydney are currently on lockdown because a resident of the contaminated city ignored restrictions to attend a seaside event in space. No wonder there is fury.
Others are baffled that you could travel for miles to see a long-distance lover you’ve identified for less than a month, but is prohibited from visiting a child or father, or to a dying mother.
It was the overwhelming home and freedom that satisfied us moving to Australia all these years in the past. And when our first daughter was born in a land of happy blue skies in the first year of this new millennium, we felt that she had won the lottery of life.
Today he doesn’t really feel that means. It seems that the nation we have chosen for her is just not a reward, but a prison.