Mother’s Day 2020

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Seems an odd year.  Just about every celebration has been changed in some way or another. Drive by birthdays are the new thing.  Zoom graduations are all the rage.  Socially distanced weddings are popping up in backyards everywhere.  Every possible type of gathering has been repurposed using technology.  If nothing else, this pandemic has kicked our creativity up a few levels.

Mother’s Day has been celebrated from a distance for years for those of us whose kids don’t live close by.  We are used to cards and facetime.  We have made the transition from breakfast-in-bed to phone-calls-instead.  It is not the same, but we are moms, so we adapt.  We are happy to see the faces and hear the voices, even if they are many miles away.

Some of us still get a meal on the day.  We have face to face conversations and catch up, be it around our own table or someone else’s.  There are laughs and sweet words of appreciation spoken which mean more than any gift ever could. It is the one day of the year nothing is expected of us as moms and we are encouraged to take some time for ourselves.

Fortunately for me, I have kids in both categories, far and near.  It is one advantage of having four.  There is always at least one of them around to wish me well in person. We don’t do multiple generation luncheons anymore.  We have outgrown them in the reality of living busy lives which don’t overlap too often. Sometimes it makes me sad, but mostly I understand that time moves on and children don’t stay little forever.  They grow up and have lives, yet they regularly remember to make moments to speak life to me, that is especially so on Mother’s Day.  I keep Kleenex nearby and soak up every word.

Being a mom is all I ever wanted to be.  When asked in Kindergarten what other job besides a mom I wanted, I couldn’t think of one.  I wanted to be like my own mom.  In my 5-year-old mind she had the best job in the world.  They always say to find a job you are passionate about and you will never work a day in your life.  She found hers.  It was us. We were her job and her passion.  I never questioned her love of creating a safe place for us.  It was like breathing to her.  Looking back, as an adult, I know there is no such thing as perfection, but in the eyes of a child, my mom was like a queen.  She knew what to do, how to do it, and did it well, all while loving us.

Now, it is 2020.  There will be no gathering around her to tell her how appreciative we are. No hugs. No meal. We will zoom, but the glaze in her eyes doesn’t clear too often in the presence of technology. Faces she doesn’t remember are smaller on the screen.  Voices she doesn’t recognize are distorted. Knowing us in person is hard, knowing us online is next to impossible. We will talk and she might hear us, but she might not. Dad will try to get her to smile for us, but mostly she will sit and stare off. We wonder if and when we will get to see her again in person. We wonder if she will have any spark of knowing us then.  The advantage to using technology to connect in these times is that our breaking hearts do not show on the screen.

We are not the only ones in this boat.  Everyone whose mom is in a retirement community is feeling the sensation we are missing something important.  An opportunity to give back the love we received, feels as if it has been stolen from us.  The one day a year set aside to appreciate the other 364 has been lost, just like all the other events in this pandemic. We can draw from our long-distance experiences with our grown children and make sure we acknowledge their life’s work through a phone call.  We can validate their sacrifices on our behalf with a note or a card. We can Zoom, Facetime and WhatsApp our appreciation in “person” and it will have to be enough.

This world, where to protect someone we love, we have to stay away from them, seems so opposite.  Counterintuitive. My brain is having difficulty wrapping around this new way of thinking.  Such an unforeseen dilemma in the caregiving journey, to not be able to care in the normal ways.  Just one of the many issues on my plate due to this crisis. I wrestle with them all, but there is nothing to be done.  I cannot control any of it.  And so, I use my superpower of adaptation.  All moms have it, and on Mother’s Day 2020, we will all dig deep and tap into the well.  We will shift.  We will flex.  We will smooth things out. And we will make it work, just as we have always done. We are moms, after all, it’s what we do.

Happy Unprecedented Mother’s Day!

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