*This article was originally published on Working Mother, April of 2020.
Though heartbreaking, it’s no surprise: mothers have been among the hardest hit by the many stressors related to this pandemic.
Perhaps more than any other demographic, moms are bridging societal gaps, mitigating cultural dysfunction, and adding even more to their plates in order to meet their families’ basic needs. In addition to the disproportionate loads we were already carrying pre-pandemic, there is now an expectation that we will be our children’s teachers, serve as our children’s primary (and in many cases, singular) playmates, work from home while caring for and teaching children, and absorb and transmute the stressors of this crisis so that our children might be minimally impacted.
We are absorbing the impact of Covid-19 for millions of people, young and old. As a result, we are minimizing the collective trauma being experienced worldwide.
Mothers are the epitome of essential workers, yet because we are unpaid and our work has always gone unseen and been underappreciated, we don’t even make the list.
“Some of these people work behind the scenes without the general public realizing how essential they are to keeping society functioning,” says Sophia Waterfield in Newsweek’s List of Essential Workers That We Should Thank and Support During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
If we’re going to list the people who work behind the scenes to keep society functioning, shouldn’t mothers not only be included, but featured?
I’m not faulting Waterfield. Her list is beautiful and important. I’m calling out the culture-wide narrative her exclusion represents. I’m illuminating just how undervalued and misrepresented mothers still are–despite the truth of how much we do for society–within the minds of those who weave society’s stories, and thus, influence our sense of self as mothers.
If call center workers, workers supporting the operation of firearms, and truckstop employees are considered essential, yet mothers aren’t even mentioned…it’s time we weave a new narrative.
My hope is that this moment in history will serve as a great awakening. My dream is that millions of stressed and over-burdened mothers will recognize the ridiculousness in the way society sees us (or doesn’t see us, as it were), feel the truth of mothers’ importance in their bones, and begin to weave truer, more mother-affirming narratives, like this one:
We are not struggling because we are inadequate. We are struggling because we’re mothering within a society that is misrepresenting, misleading, and inadequately supporting us.
Here are a few other realities Covid-19 is illuminating that I believe merit being woven into our post-pandemic norms and narratives:
More supportive norms and truer narratives are not going to come from the top, down. If we, as mothers, are ready for a new collective story, it’s up to us to create it. I wrote a book to help guide you through this process. It was released last week and you can find it here.