Considering this is a site dedicated to mothers and parenting, I would not be surprised to learn that you were one of the thousands (millions?) who read The Primal Scream interactive series on the New York Times this week. Compiled by Jessica Grose, Jessica Bennett, Melonyce McAfee, Farah Miller and a talented team of designers and producers, it was like a gut punch.
Or not a punch exactly. Maybe more like you’re lying in bed (again) mustering far too much effort to get up to do something entirely mundane (again), and someone you really love grabs you and shakes you to get your attention. Then they hug you tight and kiss you gently on the forehead and whisper, you’ve got this. And if you don’t, I’m here for you. All before stepping away to bring you some tea and some fresh tissues and set up a call with your favorite girlfriends who are there to also tell you they’re there for you.
Am I revealing too much?
No. I’m not. We’re all feeling this.
And if you think we’re not, you’d be wrong. And if you’re thinking, “but dads…” also no. It’s not the same.
I don’t know a single woman who read this who hasn’t cried, or raged, or in some way seen themselves reflected back in the stories. Me included.
This week, I shared a post on Instagram about how hard it is to motivate these days, even to take a walk around the block or put on a swipe of mascara. I was truly surprised by the range of moms who responded, publicly and in private. Moms are struggling, big time. All kinds of moms.
Even the moms you’d least expect — the ones who seem to have it all together, the ones who seem to be living their best lives. They’re feeling it too. Maybe they don’t show it to us all the time, and maybe they’re feeling it in different ways, but they’re struggling.
And if you’re a mom, whatever you’re feeling now, it’s real. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s valid.
Like I’ve said before, this isn’t the Grief Olympics. There’s no winner for who has it worse.
On the other side, you’re allowed to have all your feelings without needing to disclaim, “well, it could be worse…”
Isn’t that something we all do? We complain or vent or share and then we remind whoever we’re talking to that we know we’re better off than others? Empathy is important, but it shouldn’t keep us from saying we need help when we need it.
That said, there are mothers I think of more than others right now: Mothers who have had Covid, terrified what might happen to their children if they don’t recover. Mothers with long Covid. Mothers who have lost someone they love to Covid. Black and brown mothers who are disproportionately more impacted by Covid in every way. Mothers who are single (or otherwise uncoupled). Mothers who are in crappy relationships with partners who don’t support them the way they need. Mothers who are unemployed or underemployed. Mothers who are working multiple jobs. Mothers struggling with crushing debt. Mothers with no access to childcare. Mothers of kids with special needs. Mothers struggling with mental health issues. Mothers of kids struggling with mental health issues. Mothers of kids struggling with school or friends or anything at all.
I have found myself in some of these categories at various times. Have you? I bet nearly all of us have.
Which brings me back to the article. According to NY Times director of audience and content (and longtime online friend) Farah Miller, it was six months in the making. No surprise, considering we’ve all been talking about these struggles back from that very first at-home class — if not before.
So I was surprised this weekend to find a man I know in one of my social feeds asking whether there were any articles out there about how Covid and quarantine are impacting single mothers, unemployed mothers, mothers with multiple jobs…
I mean…what? You’re not seeing them?
Well if he’s not seeing those articles, maybe you’re not either. Maybe your husband or partner isn’t seeing them. Maybe your employer isn’t seeing them. So I thought I’d put together a list of the articles about the pandemic and American motherhood I think need to be read by more people.
These are not just articles listing facts and data, but those with beautifully told, compelling stories featuring all kinds of mothers willing to open themselves up, that they might help us, and even to offer some solutions.
If nothing else, reading these will remind you that whatever you’re struggling with, however big or small you think it is, you’re not alone.
Must-read articles about the impact of the Covid Pandemic on mothers
I’m only including the articles here specific to mothers and the unique issues we’re facing. We have plenty of articles and podcast interviews (lots of podcast interviews!) about taking care of our kids and their needs, and I’m sharing them below. But here, I wanted to offer up the articles that center mothers, the way we’re not always so good at centering ourselves.
So pour yourself a glass of whatever, turn off the TV for a moment, and give yourself a little time to read. It’s worth it.
And if you’re one of the lucky moms who happens to be doing great right now, you should especially read these. It’s a great opportunity to count your blessings, and find some ways to pay it forward.
The Primal Scream on The NY Times. Start here.
American Mothers Are In Crisis: Is Anyone Listening to Them? – Jessica Grose, NY Times.
Three American Mothers on the Brink – Jessica Bennett, NY Times (above)
Working Moms Are Struggling. Here’s What Would Help – Claire Caine Miller, NY Times
Why Working Moms Deserve a Tantrum (And is Anyone Listening to Them?) – Dr. Christine Koh, Washington Post
(* It’s also worth listening to our recent Spawned podcast interview with Christine, which reframes self-care and how to make it more effective and meaningful for you as a mother.)
Interview with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden: “Working Moms are Dealing with So Much” – Katie Arnold-Ratliff, Parents Magazine
The Struggle is Real: Working Black Mothers, Childcare, and Covid-19 – Frankie Robertson, Essence
How Society Has Turned its Back on Mothers – Pooja Lakshmin, NY Times
Recession With a Difference: Women Face Special Burdens – Patricia Cohen, NY Times
Black, Latina, and Immigrant Mothers are Losing Jobs as Covid-19 Childcare Crisis Grows – Claire Thornton, USA Today
How Working Mothers are Barely Coping During Covid-19 – Donna M Owens, NBC News
The Pandemic Has Been Extra Hard on Single Mothers – Barbara Rodriguez, 19th
America’s Childcare Crisis (video) – The Daily Show, via Twitter
Remote School is Stressing Parents: Here’s How to Tame the Anxiety – Devorah Heitner, Washington Post
Parents, Know Your Workplace Rights – Jancee Dunn, NY Times
Spawned Podcast Interviews about the Pandemic Impact on Mothers
For the past year, we’ve been so grateful to the many Spawned podcasts guests and experts who have joined Kristen and me to share helpful information of all kinds to help moms facing Pandemic-related issues. Whether it’s issues impacting us or our kids (which in turn impacts us, of course), these are the episodes worth listening to. They’re generally a half-hour or so, so low-commitment, high-reward.
Why we need to reframe how we talk about self-care, with Dr. Christine Koh | Spawned Episode 224
The Marshall Plan for Moms
A group of diverse mothers in entertainment, business, publishing, and more, have put together a Marshall Plan for Moms proposal It was spearheaded by Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, and you’ll recognize a lot of the names involved.
The premise is that the Biden administration establish a task force to implement a short-term monthly payment to moms depending on needs and resources, and pass long overdue policies like paid family leave, affordable childcare and pay equity. Visit the Marshall Plan for Moms site and sign your name.
Any articles you love not listed here? Please share them in comments. Every one helps.
Top image by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash