A Quarantine-Era Ode to Stay-At-Home Moms
In the past seven weeks since the start of community quarantine in Luzon, I’ve only thrice left the 20-something-square-meter confines of my studio apartment, each time only to buy groceries and other necessary supplies. Like many others in Metro Manila under lockdown, I live alone, and I’ve elected to stay indoors at all costs: no food deliveries, no late-night convenience store runs, no laundromat days.
This means that, for the first time in a while, I’ve had to really take care of myself. Without the everyday conveniences I used to enjoy, I’ve had to plan and cook all my meals, wash all my clothes, and clean up around the unit much more often than I used to. Sometimes, I fail spectacularly: The recipes I pick up from Chef Show on Netflix or cooking channels on YouTube never turn out quite the way they're supposed to; and I've spent hours trying to learn Marie Kondo's fold-and-roll method for storing clothes, but somehow my closet's still a mess. On top of those, I've also been working my day job remotely, and doing every other thing I can to stay sane in the middle of an unprecedented global crisis. (Thank God for the Internet.)
I say these because while I know I have it so much easier than a great majority of people do, this new way of life has brought me to a sobering realization. Many of us are living through quarantine this way: forced to lead a simpler, more self-sufficient life, to devote more time to housework, to live quietly and slowly, and to cope with being stuck at home alone all day. One might say that we’re now living the kind of life that many stay-at-home mothers have always lived. And if we take anything away from all of this, it should be a greater appreciation for moms, and how they’ve enabled us to be.
In many parts of the world, Mother’s Day 2020 will be celebrated under lockdown. And so our current state of self-isolation might be the most fitting lens through which to view the heroism of mothers who stay at home and labor to let us live our own lives. The work that this pandemic has forced us to do now daily—Sisyphean cycles of cooking, washing, sweeping, mopping—is the vocation that many mothers have always taken upon themselves for our sake. That we must now juggle these with e-mails and video call meetings should serve to underscore the value of their work and its profound dignity.
But in acknowledging the burden of stay-at-home moms, we must also seek to lighten it. Our quarantined lives were thrust upon us by a pandemic, which is temporary—but the role of homemaker has been thrust upon them by dated gender roles, which are much more obstinate. Whether or not they chose to be stay-at-home mothers, that’s too often what they are expected to be. They're expected to wear the hats of homemaker, chef, accountant, and teacher, among others. And if this pandemic is, as some say, a chance to remake the world a better place, it’s worth asking why anyone thought that gender-biased expectations were fair, and why we can’t all share in the fundamental work of making a home.
This year, sons, daughters, and dads are going to have to find creative ways to celebrate our moms, because we’re all stuck at home. But in some ways, that might be for the better: Families no longer have the option to resign the occasion to lunch at Mary Grace or a spa date at The Spa. This year, if you live with your mom, you have a lot of opportunities to spend real quality time together.
You could cook dinner as a family, perhaps taking cues from YouTube recipes, or from movies like Tasty, which is on Amazon Prime Video. You could host a Mother's Day movie night, too, with Netflix—consider Other People, the directorial debut of Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly; or, if she doesn't mind sci-fi, I Am Mother, a critically acclaimed thriller that's surprisingly all about motherhood. But hey, if she prefers to rewatch Four Sisters And a Wedding with you on iWant or some K-Drama on Viu or iFlix, today's not a day you get to say no.
And if you don’t live with your mom, there are still ways to celebrate online via video call. After all, there's no bonding experience quite like troubleshooting webcam settings. (Start digging up old baby pictures to use as Zoom backgrounds.)
But regardless, Mother’s Day this year is a special time to slow down, reach out, and thank your mom or mom figure. It’s the least we can do to show her the appreciation she deserves.
Globe At Home is one with you in celebrating Mother’s Day and acknowledging the loving work of moms everywhere. An unilimited, high-speed Globe At Home Plan—which is currently accessible and available—helps you connect with loved ones. If you're already subscribed, you can avail of generous data boosts and upgrades to higher speeds using the Globe At Home App. Take this time to connect with your mom and make her feel special as we all stay #SafeAtHome.