The Pandemic has Shifted the Family Dynamic and it Deserves More, Thoughtful Conversation

Mothering is already hard. Mothering during a pandemic is other level.

I have been admiring the myriad ways my fellow mothers are handling their stuff during Covid-19. There is a strength and determination in our day-to-day struggle that solidifies, yet again, we can handle anything.

We’re in this together. And no, I’m not compartmentalizing. I don’t care if you have one child or five, or whether you “work” or not. This is challenging for each of us in our own way.

When sheltering in place began, I noticed a rallying cry on social media touting, “We’ve got this!” and “Let’s do this!” But, as Harper’s Bazaar asked in a recent article: who is the “we” and “let’s” behind the optimism?

You, mama. It’s you.

We are making shopping lists, creating meal plans and cooking, scheduling and facilitating zoom calls, uploading schoolwork, teaching subjects, coordinating outdoor play, limiting screen time, and cleaning toilets. I’m not discounting fathers; many have stepped up like never before to pitch in with schoolwork, meals, and housework. But it’s largely that… pitching in.

Harper’s Bazaar appropriately asked, “Are men texting their friends homeschool tips?”

As the weeks of isolation now turn into months, the text chains and memes about cooking and cleaning have veered in a new direction. They’ve gone from simple frustration to full on lamenting a backward slide for women on a much larger scale.

A recent Atlantic Monthy article declared, “The Coronavirus is a Disaster for Feminism.” The health crisis is, in fact, coupled with an economic crisis and the article dubbed women’s independence “a silent victim of the pandemic.” Children home from school and self-isolating older parents all need care, and care often falls to women.

But why?

A global-health policy expert weighed in with Atlantic Monthly: “It’s not just about social norms of women performing care roles; it’s also about practicalities… Who is paid less? Who has the flexibility?”

You, mama? That might be you.

A couple of mom friends who are also business owners have shared personal stories with me about moving businesses online, ramping up the portion of their business that already exists online, or flat out taking the financial hit from cancelled events, clients, and gigs. One mentioned that she feel as if years of progress to reach a profitable point have been erased in a few short months. And the full effect of the pandemic has yet to play out.

I don’t have any answers. But this monumental shift is worth a closer look and further, thoughtful conversation. I have good days and bad days.  But every day I am empowered knowing I am a champion for my family in this vulnerable moment. My kids need me. I can’t control anything outside of our four wall, but this job I am handling like a boss.

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