Here we are – celebrating Mother’s day for those who we call Mom and those who are Momming others (Yes, that includes anyone) – during a pandemic in Stage 2. Every day has felt like Groundhog Day and an unpredictable adventure at the same time.
And life is different now.
I see my therapist from the recliner in my daughter’s bedroom with a blanket and the hours-old coffee I never get to drink from breakfast. There is less of the hoarding of the toilet paper and empty aisles. Easter came and we all had masks on. Our in-person engagements with strangers are six feet apart with a grocery cart in front of us, hurried feet, and anxious eye glances in the produce section.
As of this writing, 64,000 people in the USA have lost their lives to COVID-19. They were grandfathers, friends of friends, and even friends who were quarantined in their homes or held only a nurse’s hand while they took their last breath. Doctors started dying of the virus. Nurses were dying. First responders were dying. The deceased were piled in body bags because there was just no more room. This new life was real and surreal at the same time.
Life changed, and I am changing as a mom while I desperately rely on so many women/humans/people to mom me as I weave in and out of anxiety, depression, and outright fear of what kind of world we are becoming and what role I need to take while in it.
Here are six things I have specifically learned as a parent during this time by the moms and mommers (again, that includes anyone who moms other people) in my life. I pray we all take this with us as we start to emerge and carefully heal into the New Normal that we get to create:
- Celebrate all moms and those who are in the business of momming because we need all of you on this journey.
You do not have to birth, adopt, or foster to “mom” someone. The person you “mom” is not required to have your last name, be fed cut up grapes for lunch that will inevitably be thrown in the trash anyway, or be on your health insurance plan. Momming is a mindset, a constant engagement – one who steps from their own painful experiences to minister to you in yours. Momming, especially during this pandemic, has come from authors, philanthropists, journalists, the 2nd-grade teacher who has transformed his Pinterest infused classroom into Brady Bunch boxes of her students on Zoom screens for months of E-learning, the next-door neighbor, or the exhausted ICU nurse that holds your dad’s hand as he takes his last breath from a ventilator and comforts you while you grieve saying goodbye through a computer screen. Mommers are the people who grieve, celebrate, challenge, and correct us through it all for us to get through it all in one piece. Being a mom and momming both require commitment and grit. Both should be celebrated.
2. Grace is easier to give others than to yourself – But YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS
Moms/Mommers – It is crucial we give ourselves buckets and barrels of grace. Pour it all over yourself when your two year old has gone on hour two of Disney+ on her iPad because you had a Zoom appointment with your coworkers or that you just needed to sit in the other room alone and center yourself, so you don’t grab the keys and drive away. Give yourself grace and then give yourself some more. Being quarantined in one house with everyone you love does not equal loving being quarantined in one house with everyone you love. Read that sentence again. Grace will give you that extra space to say I’m sorry when you yelled for the umpteenth time, mumbled under your breath, or built up your safe wall when it is all just too much. Grace will allow the gratitudes to float to the surface. Grace will enable the apologies and the acceptance of them much easier to give and receive in tight quarters.
3. Sacrifice. Necessity. It has been redefined. Teach and model for your children the new definition.
In whatever Stage – 5,4,3,2 or 1 – There are moms around you whose sons and daughters who have gone weeks without medical and mental health therapies that are essential for them to thrive in their daily lives due to disability, trauma, and other reasons not in their control. There are cancer patients who have had to wait for life-saving treatment because resources were needed elsewhere. Ask yourself right now what is a necessity, or am I just getting uncomfortable? We aren’t doing all of this for ourselves; we are doing it for each other, our neighbors, the compromised, the nurses who are pleading with us to stay home, the body bags filling makeshift tents in NYC, the children with disabilities who deserve services, the teachers who need their classrooms back, the hungry and solitary children who are craving the safety of their school walls and for everyone else- even the ones open carrying at a courthouse and crying over their chipped nails and overgrown bangs. Maybe self-care at this time is just loving ourselves enough to love others and the ones they love. Keeping the peace is nice, but we need peacemakers – ones who tell the truth in love and make hard decisions that benefit the greater good of all (ex. wearing that mask even though it’s uncomfortable, hot, and unflattering). That’s true community.
4. Hope is always present.
Your relationship with God/god or your Higher Power can continue to grow without a leader, hymnal, pews, service order, gathering in a particular place, or with certain people, a physical offering plate, or a building. Hope can be found right where you are, in any situation, in any form, and any condition. It can not be quarantined or socially distanced from you, and no virus or pandemic could stand against it. No government entity or stay at home order could ever take away your right to practice it. Hope is just there. You have everything you need within you at this moment.
5. Keep moving forward.
The voice inside you, if you allow it to, will always direct you towards growth. Growth doesn’t happen if we go backward – or “back to the way things were.” Change is growth. Unpredictability is growth. Navigating new roads, Zooms, E-learning, and taking on uncomfortable roles is growth. Pain, beauty, and revival is growth. You may not know what the next right thing is (it is more than likely that the next right thing will be something others may not understand, follow, or agree with), but it will always move you towards deeper connections, stronger relationships, and solid foundations. Remember, your feet can be moving even when your soul is still. You get to decide what your normal will look and feel like.
6. Pain is essential.
In Glennon Doyle’s newest bestseller Untamed, she writes very simply: You are here to become. I can’t run away from a global pandemic. I can not pack up my mini-van with kids and the dog and my husband and seclude ourselves away until this is over. Every single person I know has experienced great loss through this mind-blowing experience. It may have been a job, a small business, their home, or place of dwelling, or maybe you have lost your own mother or those who have mommed you during all of this. Your children may be feeling lost, angry, bitter, or confused. But we don’t stay in pain forever – we (reference #5 and keep in mind #4) keep moving forward with hope while we wait. Oh, that waiting. Doyle writes that we will miss the magic that pain brings if we cover it with avoidance, Hercules mentalities, or pre-emptive rising from the ashes types of messages without digging our hands and tears into the pain. As a recovering alcoholic, I know what numbing pain feels like. That is true suffering, and as Doyle points out, “trust that [you] are strong enough to handle the pain that is necessary for the process of becoming.
Remember, firefighters walk into a fire – not away. They only emerge when the fire is out with stories to tell and victories to celebrate.
I have celebrated Mother’s Day for my own mom, then my mother -in law, as a foster mom, an adoptive mom, and a biological mom. That is just a long list to say, “Mom” because as much as I am honored to have an additional title in front of “mom,” I am just as happy with being simply called mom. But I’ve learned something much bigger not only through this pandemic but as a thirty-eight-year-old survivor of a whole hell-of-a-lot and who has been around the block a few times. I need adults of all genders who adult wiser than me. I need adultier adults. I need my mom who gave birth to me, who prayed over me at night, and who still does to this day just as much as I need those bad-ass truth-tellers who MOM me through their raw work in the therapy room, from a pastor’s office, through their books, in a small group, or those who have walked through the “pain, then the waiting, then the Rising.” (Doyle, 52) and are here to tell the story.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms AND the Mommers!
You are needed. You are absolutely enough.
*Selections found within this article can be found in Glennon Doyle’s book, UNTAMED, Copyright 2020 by Glennon Doyle and published by The Dial Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguig Random House LLC, New York.