Not only did I teach my virtual class today, but I also took my 4 month old to his doctor’s appointment. The day started like every other Tuesday, with a packed work schedule, homeschooling 3 kids, and my son’s afternoon appointment all on my mind. Why, then, one wonders, are working mothers experiencing what can only be described as burnout, as parental stress is high, demands from the family spill over to other spheres of life, while the global pandemic continues to exacerbate? We are in a mess, you know, with no end in sight for the next 70 days until new leadership is sworn in next year. I’m am honestly exhausted, although the recent Pfizer news of a vaccine that is 90% effective gives me hope. But we still have to get out of this mess and only our individual systems of support will save us for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Merriam-Webster defines support as the ability ‘to endure bravely or quietly, or to bear.’ These days, we must do all we can to provide sufficient strength for mothers to endure what is unbearable, to keep going despite their undertaking, despite the demands of work and life. That’s what happened for me today. Despite being exhausted, despite feeling tired and not able to function after teaching and my son’s appointment, during yet another meeting after rushing home from the appointment, one of my colleagues volunteered to take up duties that I could not endure quietly anymore. The support was necessary, appreciated, and I was grateful.
It was a reminder that if we don’t acknowledge all forms of support working mothers need or get, whether big or small, if we don’t give them the help to endure bravely or bear quietly all the stressors they face at this moment in history, then we will support ourselves and the things we will endure and the things we will bear will destabilize all that you know about how mothers thrive, or how they cope with work and motherhood. Support would be liberating however; support would allow more dialogues, more listening, knowing that how mothers cope maybe useful, may enhance knowledge on the bravery, the strength of being mothers who work or the endurance of workplaces with mother. It is for this reason I say, keeping uplifting working mothers, if not for anything, but so we all listen and learn how to endure bravely in a chaotic world.