A Mother’s Day ode to the unsung COVID-19 heroes - comment

Motherhood is a combination of awesome and amazing and I am going to flush myself down the toilet if another person screams my name while I am trying to pee.

A mother takes a selfie with her first-grade daughter on the first day of school (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A mother takes a selfie with her first-grade daughter on the first day of school
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
This has been the year of the mother.
The year of Zoom-school and isolation.
Of refrigerators packed with carrot and celery sticks and pantries full of cookies and sugar cereals. Of saving time on driving kids back-and-forth from their activities yet spending too many hours trying to figure out how to read the virtual schedule and click on the right links.
Sunday marks Mother’s Day in the US and for us Anglo moms in Israel, we deserve a day to celebrate, too.
As a full-time working mother of a blended family of seven, for me it has been a year of stress and uncertainty, a year of forcing our kids outside to exercise at 2 p.m. and then shoving them in front of the TV at 6 p.m. because I have got work to do, God darn it.
Of fighting new battles, like: “You must put on a clean shirt this morning.” To which the child responds: “No one can smell me on Zoom!”
It has meant math homework at midnight – even after the kids returned to school because now that classes resumed there is a test every-other-day to make up for the months where we all know they did not really learn.
It is so confusing that I have had to create a Google calendar just for the tests and color-code the entries by child: Math on Monday, Torah on Tuesday, we will find something to quiz you on Wednesday.
Unless your child is like my middle-schooler, who loved virtual school, showed up to every Google Classroom lesson, achieved top marks and now cannot figure out why she needs her friends when she can learn the materials on her own and from TikTok.
We are lucky in Israel, because at least our kids have finally returned to school. Society has opened up and that is a reason to celebrate.
Us moms should be throwing ourselves a party-like-you-mean-it extravaganza this Mother’s Day.
We know – and the studies show – that the key to our children’s resilience during this coronavirus crisis was their relationship with at least one stable and supportive adult figure. That’s you, Mom.
Motherhood is never easy. It is this combination of awesome and amazing and I am going to flush myself down the toilet if another person screams my name while I am trying to pee.
Being a working mother of course adds a level of complexity in a society where we are expected to do it all for less than three-quarters of the pay and unlike the men are judged not only on our work performance but if we are “nice.”
If you are anything like me, you are unwilling to compromise in any aspect of your life. So, you get up at 2 a.m. and put dinner in the crock pot before you leave for work. You send WhatsApps to your kids from the car reminding them to look at their schedule and pack their bags with the right books.
No, I do not know where your math book is. Tell your sister to help you find it.
Did you take an apple with those animal crackers?
Clothes are picked out the week before and stacked in neat, nice piles so even if you are not there, they have their shirts with their school logos and pants to match. Except you probably forgot they needed a white shirt on Wednesday - and since you were already so far into work-mode when the WhatsApp reminders came while you were in a group where all the parents commented so much that you had to mute it, they are therefore the only ones in the holiday photo wearing pink.
We tell them it is good to be different.
For many moms, COVID-19 meant rethinking their careers or, worse, ending them – even if temporarily.
A Pew survey published in September 2020 showed that American mothers of children 12 years old and younger lost nearly 2.2 million jobs between February and August, a 12% drop. In contrast, fathers of these young children saw only a 4% drop.
Last week, Instagram mom “Traveling with the Taylors” posted a reel of herself drinking wine on the washing machine and doing a jig while she sprayed the multi-purpose cleaner. She posted the video with this message: “As a mom one thing I’m learning to do more this year is to give myself GRACE and to celebrate the small things!”
The post got more than 2,000 likes and nearly 400 comments.
This is also the year when many lost their mothers prematurely to COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 250,000 US women died of COVID-19. In Israel, the Health Ministry showed that nearly 3,000 women died of the virus.
The long-term effects of the coronavirus crisis on women and society in general are still being written.
But in the meantime, we made it!
We all could have done better this year. But if our children are still healthy and happy enough, if we are still married to the same person – unless we shouldn't be – then we have reason to celebrate.