• Shermain Jeremy

Mother's Day Thoughts from A Single Mom During a Global Pandemic

I am spent. Emotionally, mentally and physically spent. As I write this, I am overwhelmed by a gamut of feelings as I struggle another consecutive night to get my children to go to bed. It's an emotional dance of repeated assaults on my psyche and my patience and makes me second guess my ability to effectively parent and mother my children.

This pandemic has certainly been my ultimate test. Forced to remain on lockdown for weeks on end, cooped up with a 3 year old and 5 year old all while trying to balance work, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, playtime and everything else in between on my own has taken its toll, and as Mother's Day approaches, I barely notice.

But alas, almost four hours later, there is silence. It creeps up on me like a warming blanket and I can finally breathe. They have finally fallen asleep and I can think again. I revel in this time, welcoming the peace as I ponder about life, this life, my life, this new world, and I remind myself not to dwell on fear, but to trust the process and trust God. On the news there is talk of borders and businesses re-opening, while in some parts of the world people are still dying by the hundreds and even thousands. Recently, in the U.S. cases of young children dying as a result of the coronavirus is causing much alarm. This is a sure sign that this pandemic and the fallout to come is far from over and because of this, I can't help but examine all that has happened and all that is yet to come.

During this entire world health scare I have felt almost invisible as a woman and a mother. As our governments and policy-makers went full force ahead with their health protocols and plans to protect and relieve their citizens, our mothers and the children they care for didn't seem to be a consideration or in some cases were more of an after thought. As state and country-wide lockdows spread, schools closed indefinitely and the movement of people curtailed, its as though no one thought about how a single mother would maneuver her way around this new normal with children, especially young children.

No one thought about how a single mother who still had to work would cope with homeschooling their child or children and how demanding and overwhelming such an ask could be. No one thought about the moms who were essential workers, especially single mothers with little to no support who had to leave their children in day cares or with nannies increasing their exposure to risk. According to unwomen.org, 70% of health and social care workers are women.

I know of single mothers who are struggling and did not qualify for government relief because according to that government they made too much money as though peoples lives are all one in the same. When will we stop putting people in a box and realize that everyone's situation is different.? I also know of moms who have lost their incomes completely and have no idea how they will survive the next few months. I think about all the moms who are stuck in small apartments in high-rise buildings with no front yard or backyard to offer relief and too afraid to risk taking their children outside. Not to mention all the mothers who gave birth with masks on their faces or those who gave birth infected.

Then there are the moms and their children forced to stay at home with their abusers as a result of this virus, leaving our most vulnerable even more susceptible to harm and danger. Statistics have already shown that domestic violence has been on the rise since the onslaught of this pandemic. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/coronavirus-domestic-violence.html

Then there is the mental health impact. With daily routines altered, combined with financial uncertainty, fear of getting sick, death on the news, information overload and misinformation and social isolation it can all feel like your world is spiraling out of control. Mothers raising precious children are even more vulnerable and yet still we continue to be overlooked.

Food shortage, crime and chaos like we have seen so many times in the movies and in popular series look like something more real than fiction these days. As I look at the leading economies of the world particularly the United States struggling to grapple with this pandemic, I feel a tightness in my stomach. I know that many countries particularly those with smaller economies will surely feel the economic and societal brunt and it makes me wonder what the future will be like for my children, our children.

Will it be one where their basic freedoms and human rights will be altered or God forbid taken away? Will it be a world where privacy will be controlled by governments who have access to every aspect of our lives and even control our every move? Or will this crisis truly make us better as the human race and fix the glaring inequality that this pandemic has even further exposed? Will we finally see that chasing dollars and cents is not true happiness and that focus on the family is the proven way to ensure healthier societies and communities for future generations? That parents especially mothers need to spend more time in the home raising and nurturing their children especially during their formative years, if they choose to do so?.

One of my biggest gripes with society is this addiction we have to work. So many of us spend more time in an office than we do in our own homes with our families. How is this ok? The idea that employees are machines that put in x amount of hours to give x amount of output is archaic according to an Inc.com article by Kate Rockwood. (In this article you will also see that the 40 hour work week was created by Henry Ford during the industrial age, which was probably fitting at the time). So many of us are so used to just going along with things because they have always been that way have probably never thought of why we work the way we do. For me, the thought never crossed my mind until I became a mother realizing that leaving both my children at home to return to work before they were 4 months old felt so unnatural.

This Mother's Day, my prayer for mothers continues as I remember the well known poem written by William Ross Wallace called "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is the Hand that Rules the World" (1865). You see, even back then he could see the delicate and fragile nature of a mother's work in raising her children and the consequent rewards or pitfalls this can have on future generations. He writes:

"Infancy is the tender fountain,

Power may with beauty flow,

Mother's first to guide the streamlets,

From the souls unresting grow-

Grow on for the good or evil,

Sunshine streamed or evil hurled:

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world." (excerpt)

In the end, our ability to come out ahead of this pandemic successfully will be judged based on how we alter and implement public and social policy that focuses on the family, equality for women and support for mothers.

A Happy Happy Mother's Day to you, my strong, powerful hard-working mama! You deserve to be praised every single day!

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New York, NY, USA

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