Navigating Motherhood during a Pandemic

This is a challenging, but necessary piece to write as I contemplate the microscopic enemy that has suddenly shifted our lives overnight creating havoc.

As if mothering weren’t already challenging on all levels, this pandemic bringing with it new and overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.

These are difficult emotions to deal for any human being, but as a separated mother of four, everything feels compounded and heightened.

As we are deep in this pandemic and learning to re-shift and reorganize our lives, I wanted to take a moment and share a few of my thoughts with others, especially other mothers out there who are also navigating difficult and unchartered spaces on their own.

Working from home is a privilege.

I want to start by acknowledging that having the opportunity to continue my work at home during a pandemic is an absolute privilege that many mothers do not have. I think about my own mother who despite her age and the increased chance of exposure, has to keep working her low-wage job so she can make ends meet. Thinking about her and the reality of countless of others who are struggling economically makes me feel angry, saddened, and at times guilty for having reached some level of privilege. It’s not that I don’t think I deserve working from home, it’s that societal inequities are glaringly real, especially now and especially for People of Color who continue to be overrepresented in low-wage work.

The other day when I was on yet another Zoom meeting, I couldn’t help but feel angry when I heard individuals complain about having to work from home. I kept thinking, “Do you hear your entitlement? Do you realize that there are countless of workers out there who would give anything to be in your position to work from home and be paid a living wage?”

One thing that’s been exposed, along with the increased exposure risk to this microscopic villain, has been people’s privilege and entitlement.

So, even though at times I feel I am going to lose my sanity having to manage five people confined at home, four of them between the ages of 12 to 18, I remain utterly thankful that I am able to complete work from the safety of my home.

Staying hopeful amidst the uncertainty.

Maintaining continuous positivity has been challenging. As the situation becomes more heightened around the world and across local communities, feelings of hope and positivity are rightfully impacted. I’ve tried my best, for sanity’s sake, to stay off of social media and anecdotal news. But even with intentional disconnection, I am still bombarded on a daily basis. At times I want to angrily respond to someone’s post or news bit, “Please keep your negative doom-and-gloom to yourself!” But then I think, maybe that’s how that person processes crisis and I remind myself to have empathy for everyone during this time.

Amidst the moments when I feel as if I’m going to lose it, I realize that it is fundamental for me to create a safe space for my children and it is vital that I remain hopeful and positive for them, in fact, this is a part of my parental responsbility. Every day as we sit down to eat as a family of five, we talk about how we’re feeling and I am intentional about ending every one of our conversations on a hopeful note.

Being honest with my children.

As a mother of color who has had to navigate many difficult spaces, I’ve learned (and have chosen) that it is fundamental for me to maintain complete honesty with my children. This has ranged from teaching them about continued societal inequities, the disproportionate impacts of racism, the mis-treatment of communities and people, to being honest with them when my marriage came to a close. I’ve treated this pandemic as being no different in requiring complete honesty and openness that ranges from teaching them what it means to do reliable fact-checking along with the quick dispelling of fake news from sources not deemed credible. I want my children to function in this world in an honest and critical way.

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

As someone who has a science degree and was a biology teacher for several years, I have an understanding of how viruses work and although I want to believe that everything will be okay in a few weeks, I refuse to tell my children something that I believe to be untrue, at least at this point when our local communities have yet to hit their peak in this pandemic.

What I am telling them on a daily basis is what we do know — all pandemics have a certain end, we just don’t know the exact when. I tell my children on repeat that there is a most certain light at the end of this virulent tunnel and that when we get there, we will learn to be even better humans.

Confronting racism and xenophobia

One of the most fundamental lessons to teach my children during these trying times is that blame should not and cannot be placed on a people or country. What we are facing has to do with evolutionary shifts that occur. Despite Trump’s xenophobic and racist messaging referring to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese Virus,’ I am intentional in countering his and others’ unjust, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric. My family and I stand strong with Asian and POC communities across our state, across the nation, and beyond.

I want my children to understand the science behind what has occurred and that it is absolutely unjust to blame anyone or anything for this. If anything, I’ve challenged them to think about how climate change and the continued abuse of Mother Earth play a role in what we are facing globally.

Model compassion, care, commitment, and hope.

As I continue to learn to navigate motherhood during these difficult and intense times, I will not lose hope and I will continue to model for my children what it means to be conscientious, caring, and compassionate and that no matter what, we will continue to support our communities, especially those who are most impacted during tumultuous moments such as these.

COVID-19: no one likes you but this pandemic has given humans much to think about, from inequities that continue to exist and to understanding how truly interconnected we are across the globe, even though we might be thousands and thousands of miles apart.

Xicana, mother, educator, writer, and activist immersed in battles against oppressive systems. I live in the 505 — red or green? kallivalenzuela@gmail.com

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