Parenting was already difficult before COVID-19. Each day presented a new challenge, whether it be temper tantrums and screaming matches, or a newfound aversion to sweet potatoes even though your child has always adored them. Survival was every mother’s motto until COVID-19 knocked at our doors. With every day, new cases emerged and popped up across America, sparking fear and confusion in every person clinging to the news for answers.
Supermarkets were flooded with panic buyers, each one scarfing up ridiculous amounts of toilet paper and bottled water. Through all of this chaos, mothers were left to fall at the wayside. Mothers who push themselves to survive living paycheck to paycheck were forgotten in all the panic buying. These mothers also had to face the hard truth of paying rent and mortgages, and the fact that those payments may not be made. Mothers were also forced to have difficult discussions with their children about COVID-19 and why it rapidly changed the world we all had become so accustomed to.
In a visit to the store during the pandemic, I found myself shocked at how little I was really able to buy. Diapers were ransacked, formula was missing, and milk shelves were empty. I thanked whatever higher being existed that I was not in desperate need of these items, and began to make mental checklists of the things that I could buy, and how much money I had. I thought of my coworkers, servers in a restaurant who lived day to day on their tips, and I thought of how they went to the store daily to buy supplies for their families. I thought of my child, and how I would continue to supply milk for him once, there was no more to buy. I also thought of my station in life, and how much this virus would eventually affect my ability to pay my bills.
In the midst of COVID-19, colleges and universities closed to ensure the safety of students and staff. After that, various businesses closed, along with daycares and elementary schools. Soon everyone barred themselves in their homes and anticipated the inevitable sickness that seemed to be consuming everyone in the world. We all held our breath and waited. Staying home was the way to survive, we each chanted this mantra in our minds and daily lives and adapted quickly to our “New Normal.” However, parenthood has reached a whole new level of difficulty.
Children no longer attend school or daycare, so the mothers who are tasked with working at home are now learning to balance their child’s schoolwork with their daily work tasks. Toddlers, who are only used to being the center of attention, are having to learn patience and taking a backseat to their parent’s video meetings.
This “new normal” is not working for everyone. Wearing a mask in public places and excessively washing our hands is an acceptable way to embrace this new world we are all navigating. But being unable to buy diapers, picking which bills to pay, and losing sleep over how to care for your family amid this pandemic is not something we should all become used to. Single mothers are finding this “new normal” especially difficult because balancing their time at home in working, parenting, and schooling has become a task many mothers never realized they would have to face. According to an article created by Emma Johnson, single mothers make up a good portion of the population.
“There are more single-parented headed households today than any other time in recent history. The majority of those families are headed by a single mom. In fact, 57% of millennial moms are unmarried moms, according to John Hopkins Researchers.”
Unfortunately, many single mothers are also having to balance the stress of providing for their families, along with the new world of staying at home. In the same article by Emma Johnson, single mothers actually make up a majority of the poverty-stricken population. “A 2018 Pew Research Center analysis found the poverty rate by the household head was 30% of solo mothers.” (Johnson, 2020). Single mothers are navigating new terrain, one where the uncertainty of day to day life lives in the background of every mother’s head.
When the pandemic began in China, the entire world sat glued to their televisions watching the virus rapidly spread from person to person and cause a halt to all normal life. Everyone was amazed that something so small could change life so quickly and that a virus could kill hundreds and then thousands of people. Even though we all watched, we were ignorant. We never planned on the virus marching toward us and stopping everyday life. We never planned on food shortages, late payments, and wearing masks in all public places.
Now that the entire world is trapped in the pandemic, new troubles are emerging on the horizon. Unemployment, economic recession, and difficulties navigating a new online world are one everyone’s mind. Sticking together while we are apart is the only thing that everyone can do. Through these difficult times, there is a faint light in which some sense of normalcy will return, and until then, mothers will do what they can to bring that normal feeling to everyday while at home.