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A Canberra mum’s voice echoes our worries and hopes

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For many of us hearing the ACT Government’s Canberra Stronger Together video for the first time, there was a slightly familiar ring about it.

The voice reminded us of someone. But who?

Our favourite Instagrammer Lauren Dubois, perhaps.

Lauren, a former Parliamentary Press Gallery television and radio journalist—turned author and Instagram sensation—was chosen to be the voice of a campaign which seeks to bring the community together at a time it is physically distanced.

“It’s nice to think my voice has been used in a way that might help people feel better about the situation, or calmer, or perhaps feel more connected to each other.”

And despite the fact that some of her 42,000 Instagram followers and 20,000 Facebook followers picked up on her vocal cameo straight away, Lauren says she doesn’t think she sounds like herself.

“I don’t think it sounds like me at all, and neither do my parents. It was actually difficult to get right, I had to make my voice convey that it is a hard time for everyone and that we are not taking it lightly.

“For so many people, they look outside and see the Canberra that we know and love is not functioning as it used to. So at the start of the video, I sound pretty sombre. But then it moves into being a little more upbeat when we recognise that we still have many ways to stay connected to each other and there are some fun things about being secluded with our families.”

Just like the video—which features the grim reality of empty streets and buildings before shining a light on the positives of community connectedness in a city doing its best to beat COVID-19—Lauren has faced some wildly emotional highs and lows.

She is bunkered down in her home with husband “the Sarge”, six-year-old son “Thud”, four-year-old daughter “Pop” and seven-month old baby “Squeak”.

Her most recent social media post depicts a typical “Week in isolation with Lauren”. Monday sees her describe the how desperately she would like to grow another head so that she can still be called upon to answer the relentless questions of two children requiring immediate distance education support while she balances a baby on her hip and completes a radio interview. (There may be some colourful adjectives thrown in for added emphasis).

Tuesday sees her keen for snacks. “WHY SO HUNGRY?”.

By Wednesday she has given up caring and by Thursday she is threatening violence if schools don’t reopen immediately.

 

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Friday’s a better day. In fact, “It’s such a special time right now…It’s an honour to have this time with my children…”

Normal programming resumes by Saturday when she suggests that someone gets her children out of the house “and very very far away from me. I am DONE for the week.” She also threatens to take her aggressions out on the next Instagrammer who posts an image of something they have just cleaned.

Sunday ends on a happy note “Let’s do something special as a family! We’ll never get this magical time again.”

Before it all starts again (rather badly) on Monday.

Lauren has been open with her audience about how the impact of COVID-19 has robbed her of the year that she thought she would have with her baby at home and two kids at school.

“Someone described it to me as a kind of grief—of losing the vision you had for your future and having to deal with something completely unforeseen.”

“For me, that has been the loss of a lot of one-on-one time with the baby, who has basically had her needs to sleep and eat met, but gets far less attention from me than she normally would because the other two take up so much more of my time.” This week, with the announcement that schools are staggering a return, has made Lauren feel a whole lot happier.

“I also feel sorry for my older kids, who miss their friends and the routine of school and their teacher, and all the fun they are used to having. I do believe they are sick of the sight of me. And who could blame them?”

 

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She also admits some of her teaching skills could use a little finesse at times.

What has been keeping Lauren sane in the meantime, has been regular contact with her friends—many of whom have young children and can attest to the extreme emotional toll that time in lockdown can take.

“Some days the only thing keeping me going is my friends, group chats, and having stupid and funny conversations where I can say that I want to kill everybody and that makes me feel completely normal because that’s exactly how my friends feel.”

Meanwhile, Lauren also feels proud—of Canberra.

“I think we all feel lucky to be in Canberra. We took the health messages seriously at the start and we did what we were asked to do and we all made sacrifices which have now really paid off. I think we all feel a sense of pride and also trust that our fellow Canberrans will continue to do the right thing. I think we can feel confident that moving forward, we have other people’s best interests at heart.”

Don’t forget to share your experiences of life amid COVID-19 using the hashtag #cbrtogether

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