This is our new reality.

This is our new normal.

This is my husband after having spent a long day at work.

There is a bath towel and a bottle of hand sanitizer in the garage.

That’s what he comes home to after work.

He’s an essential worker.

He’s not in healthcare, on the front lines battling this virus.

He’s not a first responder, answering the calls in our community.

He’s not a pharmacist, giving folks their needed medication.

He’s not a grocery store worker, stocking the shelves with food and water.

He’s not in public transit, taking people to and from work.

He’s not a truck driver, hauling goods across the country.

He’s in construction supply. And he’s essential right now, too.

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He’s supplying building materials to maintain our roads and bridges.

He’s supplying materials for mass transit projects.

He’s supplying materials to hospitals and the emergency pop-up hospitals in New York.

He’s supplying masks and hand sanitizer to the other essential workers, the ones you depend on right now.

He calls me when he’s on his way home. That’s my cue to prepare.

I leave him a towel and a bottle of hand sanitizer in the garage.

I clear out the washer to make room for his clothes.

I turn the shower on to warm up the water.

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I distract the kids with their iPads in the other room.

I crate the dog.

And then he’s home.

He strips his clothes and work boots in the garage.

He leaves his wallet, keys, phone, and work bag next to the door.

He wraps himself in a towel and immediately puts his work clothes in the washer.

Then he goes straight to the shower.

No loud shouts of, “I’m home!”

No kids running toward the door to jump into his arms yelling, “Daddy!”

No hello kisses.

No hello hugs.

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It’s quiet.

It’s secretive.

It’s heartbreaking.

This is our new normal.

Robyn Landa

Robyn is a wife, writer, runner, and mom to two boys. She is a former TV news reporter who turned in her heels and hairspray for yoga pants and dry shampoo. When she’s not doing all the things, you can find her chasing around her boys, sweating at Orangetheory, stress-baking, and wiping down last night’s dinner off the kitchen floor. She has contributed to POPSUGAR, Motherly, Romper, and Thought Catalog.