Thanks to COVID-19, Mother’s Day will be virtual
Six eggs. How was I possibly going to make breakfast for four people with six sad eggs? I did not plan appropriately, and the lightweight hangover wasn’t helping. It was May 11, 2003 — one day after I’d received my undergraduate degree in English/Creative Writing. Fifteen family members and close friends drove in from Michigan and Illinois to be with me in Missouri, and four of them were lounged all over my apartment. The rest were in hotels. I counted three out of four moms sleeping in my one-bedroom apartment, pondered on sneaking out to a grocery store and realized I could make the rest of my breakfast food work if I short-changed the egg supply for the friend with no kids. Then I got to work.
When my godmother, mother and one of two childhood friends (her son was staying with my nephews, I believe) woke up, they were pleasantly surprised by the kitchen table full of food. Although I heard some grumbling from my child-less friend (like me), she understood why. (If she didn’t, oh the hell well. Moms rule!) It was Mother’s Day — the one day a year where mothers are officially celebrated on a calendar.
While we ate breakfast, I endured all the jokes from my godmother, who laughed her ass off and told me about how I stumbled into my bedroom the night before and just tipped over. According to her, “If your aim was off, I think you would’ve just slept right there on the carpet. No way in the world would you have climbed into your bed. Y’all had too much fun!” I remember partying with my girls and two cousins — one of which had way more fun than me while he collected numbers from random college girls and their family members. But before they got to Missouri, I was plotting on dinners and breakfasts for the group. I knew I had to do something for Mother’s Day. Graduation or not, Sunday was their day, not mine.
And that’s been my mission for as long as I’ve been able to comprehend what Mother’s Day is. On Mother’s Day, I make sure my mother feels appreciated. However, May 10, 2020 will be the very first time I won’t physically be in front of her on Mother’s Day in 38 years. She’s still alive and well, but she’s also in her early 60s. (She won’t mind me telling readers that — women in my family are happier to point out why we have more years of experience to give you unsolicited advice than worrying about birthday candles. Melanin and slow-aging is a perk, too. But I digress.)
No matter how healthy I think I am and she thinks she is, the fact remains that my dentist mass-canceled something as simple as a dental cleaning. Her own doctors’ visits have either been canceled or an in-home nurse stopped by to check on her. And it would be extremely selfish to take my chances and hope that I couldn’t potentially put her at risk of a health outbreak that far too few have been tested for.* I’m not just socially isolating from strangers. I’m socially isolating from everybody I possibly can and begged her to not let anyone in who wasn’t necessary for their day-to-day living.
I am absolutely relieved that she does have someone to be with on Mother’s Day — her husband (my father) of almost 40 years (in August). Still though, it feels very odd to stick Mother’s Day cards in the mail and inquire about having an Uber Conference or phone conversation on Sunday instead of our usual days (Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays when we exercise with Tiffany Rothe and Koya Webb). She’s not just one-half of the person who created me. She’s the reason a timeshare rep was perplexed when I said, “I’d rather party with my mother on spring break than friends.” She’s the type of woman who sends me Bitmojis talking trash when she wins a game of Scrabble Go. She’s the very first person I call to decide whether it’s worth quitting my job, tell cute dog-walking stories and decide on major breakups. She’s an absolutely positively dope person who I have zip zero in common with. If she wasn’t my mother, I’d definitely be her friend. (I’m convinced she would be exhausted being my friend in return. As her daughter, she’s stuck with me though.)
There will be more Mother’s Days. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will eventually be contained. I’m not looking forward to going into anybody’s movie theaters, retail stores or restaurants (our go-to spots), but I am indeed looking forward to physically seeing the woman who doesn’t just give me the usual boring hug and a kiss. Our greeting is personalized: left cheek kiss, right cheek kiss, Chicago two-step, and a hula hoop twirl. While there are many women and men around me whose mothers and fathers are no longer in their lives, I feel for them. Unfortunately, my godmother mentioned above (and my mother’s best friend) passed away in 2009. And whenever my godsisters speak about her, it reminds me not to take mine for granted. I know I lucked out with my Scrabble Go slick-talking, yoga and aerobics exercise partnering, “haters gonna hate” Bitmoji-sending mother to her absolute core.
Still though, I need health professionals to find a cure for the virus. I’d much rather hang out with her in person instead of Uber Conference, but making sure she’s in the best health she can possibly be in is a far bigger priority than us gossiping on my parents’ couch. With all that said, I’m going to feel a way if I have to add her birthday (in July) to this list of never-have-I-ever lists of things between me and Mom. If COVID-19 is not contained or a vaccine is not found by then, we may just have to have a six-foot-distance celebration. But would that be selfish or risky for both of us? My opinions are mixed.
Either way it goes, this weekend will be the anniversary of my college graduation that I wholeheartedly appreciated and one other event I hope never happens again. There are some events that simply aren’t worth celebrating.
P.S. I know she’ll read this, so I’ll say it here. Since you insist on making a crochet face mask, don’t forget that you promised to do so by Friday, May 8. Keep wearing the disposable ones even though they “aren’t cute.” You can be “cute” from the comfort of your own home.
* The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a total of 61,499 cases (including 2,618 deaths) in 97 counties in Illinois, as of this publication date.
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