An 80-year-old former ballerina in Manhattan (we’ll call her Izzy) tells a zany story that is her metaphor for life: “I’ve never been sitting on a potty and realized there was no toilet paper. When I think of all the rehearsal halls and airplanes and restaurants and foreign travel where the dispenser might be unexpectedly empty—there was always a Kleenex in my bag or someone nearby to ask for help. I’ve danced around the world,” she laughs, whispering, “but I’ve never been caught with my tights down.”
Izzy was never a mother during a global pandemic either, and I’m not referring to the early shortage of Charmin. Motherhood during Covid-19 is like sitting on a potty when there is no toilet tissue within reach. If you call for help, no one is around to hear you except small children napping. This, my friends, is isolation.
By Mother’s Day 2020, women with children everywhere had no choice but to jump on a rising wave they didn’t want to ride: Covid-19 crashed over us without mercy, a bizarre phenomenon that was so very out of our control. On top of covering the world in a sort of mourning veil and crushing whole swaths of the economy, Covid shape-shifted mothers most of all, touching every single raw emotion: panic, grief, and courage. Mothers, who in the first place never claimed they were all things to all people, suddenly really had to be.
Now it’s Mother’s Day, 2021, and we’re still not back to normal. I mean, what was normal anyway? Truly: Under the best of circumstances, it’s been brutal. Could we offer you a glass of wine?
Which is why this Mother’s Day I’m offering a pointed revision. They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” but who in the world is called on to be inventive more often than a mother? Mothers are the necessity. Now, we have so much work left to do to make sure mothers are better prioritized – after all, mothers are the necessity, and it’s about time we’re not left out in the cold.