It is still Mothers’ Day
It is still Mothers Day in our house. I mean, really — isn’t everyday Mother’s day to do the laundry, help my son with homework, venture out (masked) for groceries, argue about chores and well…almost everything.. I feel for my friends who are home with little ones: SO much more physical work than a teenager.
This Mothers Day I treasured sweet messages from friends, a perfect breakfast prepared for me, new flowers for the garden. And I ached a little for my son who has worked so hard and will not walk across a graduation stage; my beautiful boy grown to handsome young man, yearning to spread his wings and break free, stuck at home with his mom. I worried again about my Mom,1500 miles away, praying she stays healthy, feeling guilty that I cannot visit her.. My mom, my son and I, we have our worries but we have food, shelter, work. In this horrific pandemic, we are lucky ones.
This Mothers Day I just kept going back to the picture of Annie Grant and her beautiful family.
“My mom said the guy at the (meatpacking) plant said they had to work to feed America. But my mom was sick” Annie Grant died of Covid19 after she was told to return to work at a Tyson poultry plant in Camilla GA. Workers in meatpacking plants and farmworkers laboring in the fields are Essential workers feeing the rest of us and yet, are paid too little to support their own families, don’t have paid sick days and have been treated as disposable by employers cutting corners on basic health and safety protections.
This Mothers Day I ached for Jasmine Whitfield, whose mother Cynthia Whitfled died a few weeks ago, working in a nursing home, caring for others’ mothers and loved ones — again, working for wages far too low for her Essential labors of love and care, and her own health and safety taken for granted by greedy employers squeezing profit from care-giving. I ache for everyone of us who has a parent, an aunt, a loved one in a nursing home, terrified of which patients might die next. We are all connected to Jasmine and Cynthia in this gruesome fear.
And this Mothers Day I stared again at the story of Melissa L. St. Hillaire, a domestic worker summarily dismissed from her Essential work caring for another families loved ones, now without work and struggling to feed her own 6- year old son. She is one of millions of careworkers who make all other work possible. She is part of a long history, of women and women of color especially, like Annie and Cynthia whose very essential labor is too often invisible and undervalued.
My own mother, a hard working (Essential!) school teacher, was masterful at making do with little; with stretching the budget. When any of her three little girls voiced a pang of envy — longing for a new dress not a hand-me-down, or some treat beyond our means she found a thrifty way to make it herself AND insisted that we look around and see someone with greater need than ours. What might we do to help? What might we share? She taught us to know deeply that the best way out of a funk is to be grateful for what we have and to take action for someone else.
Each of us has our own real losses and anxieties in this. But let’s heal a bit our own fears and aches with action, with empathy and connection.
The great news is, thanks to many amazing organizers there are so many ways to help!. Relief funds have been set up for Domestic Workers, workers in hospitality and restaurants, Farmworkers, Day Laborers and more. All of these mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, are doing Essential work — but literally need money for food and basics. — Many of them are blocked from access to the stimulus funds and benefits because they are immigrants.
We CAN do something! We can be our sisters’ and brothers’ keeper. Many of us are choosing to pass on our $1200 checks to others who need it more than we do right now. Join us — with what you know feels right to you. (Many of us I know are already helping to support folks in our own neighborhoods and families. I am too and doesn’t it feel good and right?) You can contribute right now here:
This moment calls for more. And simple acts of solidarity heal our own hearts and are investments in resilience. I am forever grateful to my Mom for teaching me this.
Let’s dig into our own pocketbooks and give whatever is right for you to #SupportEssentialWorkers and #ShareMyCheck Whether you are mom, a godmother a grandmother (or whether you just love or honor one!) let’s do make it Mothers Day for more of the millions of families that need us to #PassTheCheck.