A Letter to My Kids on This Mother’s Day, When Everything Is Different

There’s been a message around the Internet for us moms lately: Mother’s Day this year is going to look different. Celebratory brunches out will be postponed, family gatherings will be virtual, and mom friends’ night out will take place on FaceTime. Things will be different—this little ditty is meant to prepare us for the change, help us accept the situation, allow us room to process before the big day.

The thing is, my little loves, motherhood itself looks different right now, and there was no preparing us for that.

For the past couple of months, what we already knew of the difficult, uphill road as mothers and women in this country has been turned on its head in an unimaginable way. Mothers everywhere have been made to pivot sharply—those now working remotely without childcare juggling mealtimes, distance learning, and sibling arguments alongside their job responsibilities. Stories of moms taking video calls and phone meetings in bathrooms and closets to avoid interruptions circle around the web, simultaneously uniting us and discouraging us at once. How has it come to this? How do we manage?

 

The thing is, my little loves, motherhood itself looks different right now, and there was no preparing us for that.

 

Mothers who are essential workers are left to scramble for childcare with most schools and daycares still closed, often making decisions they aren’t completely comfortable with while grappling with the guilt of possibly bringing home an illness that could hurt the people they love most. Other mothers are left jobless, victims of this circumstance, losing the stability of steady pay and benefits while still having to provide education, healthy meals, entertainment, and support to their families. How could I have prepared myself for this? How could I have prepared them?

And that’s the thing, my loves. For many of us moms, this situation is the first where we’ve had to address a harsh reality that we knew in our hearts to be true, but didn’t want to admit just yet: I am not going to be able to protect you from the world. 

As a mother, this fact goes against everything I want for you. I live to keep you safe and warm, to make you feel loved, and to provide you with joy and hope. I strive to nurture you, to help you grow, and to learn alongside you in life.  I long to keep you from the very world you desperately wish to run towards. I exist so you can.

 

 

And though this pandemic has not changed any of that, it has brought me to my knees with one gutting truth: I can’t save you from this.

I can’t save you from the loss you feel from not going to school or seeing your friends and family. I can’t save you from the discomfort you experience from all of the sudden change. I can’t save you from the grief of missed birthday parties and family vacations and baseball seasons. I can’t save you from the frustration of doing schoolwork on a screen, of not having any personal space, of being stuck in your house day in and day out. I can’t save you from the anger of following new rules that you don’t really understand. I can’t tell you when it will get better or when it will be over or what the world will look like when it is. I can’t save you from the anxiety of not knowing what’s going to happen.

As your mom, my heart is crushed from watching yours break.

 

And that’s the thing, my loves. For many of us moms, this situation is the first where we’ve had to address a harsh reality that we knew in our hearts to be true, but didn’t want to admit just yet: I am not going to be able to protect you from the world.

 

I struggle with how to carry your grief with my own. I don’t always know what to say or do to help you, and us, through this. I feel such sadness for the parts of childhood you’re missing. The time passes so quickly, and though this will be over at some point, this piece of your life will always be different. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, I think to myself often. It all feels overwhelming most times.

But then, I watch you stand back up.

I see you try again, overcoming frustration and attempting to adapt to your new way of schooling.

I see you make the best of what is around you, inserting creativity into things where I couldn’t see anything new.

 

 

I see you be open about your grief and your loss, never minimizing how upset you are about the things you miss—whether it’s not going to the library or the playground, or being out of bananas because we don’t go to the store often, or missing our annual beach vacation with your cousins.

I see you learning to manage your relationship with each other—your only playmate by default—fighting often and making up just as much.

I see you forgive me again and again for all of my missteps and mistakes, for every way I fall short every day, for all the ways I fail to figure out how to deal with my work and your school and this kind of motherhood.

 

I don’t always know what to say or do to help you, and us, through this. I feel such sadness for the parts of childhood you’re missing. The time passes so quickly, and though this will be over at some point, this piece of your life will always be different. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, I think to myself often.

 

I see you unafraid of your emotions, unleashing screams and cries and anger without worrying about how others might perceive it.

I help you wipe your tears. You take a breath, then another, and another. You take a step forward, then another, and another. You create the joy. You find more hope.

These past few months have taken what I knew of motherhood and tossed it upside down and out the window. I haven’t known how to move forward.

But then I watch you rise, and I learn that I can too.

 

 

In this storm, my loves, your resilience has become my lighthouse. Your strength is the beacon showing me the way.

So today, while you shower me with homemade cards and sloppy kisses, I’ll hold you close and breathe you in. I will thank the universe for you—for the fortune of knowing you and loving you, for the privilege of sharing this chaos with you.

Because you made me a mother, my little loves, and you show me how to live.

 

Read More: One Mom Opens Up About Experiencing Grief and Hope on Mother’s Day

 

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