My Masked Mother’s Day
Contributed by Anne Buckley
Just days ago (although you can be forgiven for it feeling like months ago already) we celebrated Mother’s Day. This event is always a little unusual in our family. Being a British mum living in the USA with two daughters; one US and one British citizen, there is discussion over which date we choose. Do we mark the occasion in March when I celebrate my own mum, or do we wait until May along with our American friends and neighbors? Either way, this year was going to be a day unlike any other Mother’s Days I’ve known.
To call it by its traditional name, Mothering Sunday has always been a time to reunite families. In the UK, it was originally a time when Christian’s would return to the church in which they were baptized or where they attended services as children – their mother church. Families came together and adult children returning home for the day often took a gift for their mothers. The date is fixed by the religious calendar, falling on the fourth Sunday after Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter. For the first time since I’ve been celebrating the occasion either as a daughter, or as a mother, physically seeing extended families was actively discouraged due to the pandemic.
If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’ll know that I’m no stranger to communicating with my relatives virtually, but it still bothered me that my siblings were unable to visit my parents on that day. I enjoy knowing that they get to gather as a family, and we feel part of that through our remote connections as we dial in to celebrate right along with them. This year felt different. Two months later, with Covid-19 still a real and present threat, we celebrated with our own heightened restrictions.
On Wednesday, May 6th, four days before the second Sunday in May and the American Mother’s Day, a state-wide order to wear a mask in public went into effect. I wear many hats, but needlework is not my forte! Fortunately, I live in a community with many sewing enthusiasts who have hand-made masks in return for a donation to the local food pantry. Equipped with a mask for each member of our family, we started our Mother’s Day celebration with a walk in the woods. It was a brisk morning and we were actually glad to have a layer of protection against the wind. As we walked, we encountered varying degrees of acceptance from others along the way.
Some people covered their faces as we did with either a mask or bandana, greeted us politely, and continued on their way. Others wore their masks lowered so that they were not covering their mouth or nose at all as they passed us. Some had masks for the adults but nothing for children, and others had no protection whatsoever. While our whole family wore masks, we still found ourselves hopping off the path to allow other non-masked walkers to pass us.
I suppose I should be grateful that I didn’t encounter the same mockery that I did last week when a gentleman turned his screen around to show an image of me to the person he was video chatting to. “So unnecessary.” I heard him comment as I cycled by. He is one of many who are debating the benefits of face coverings. For me, it makes sense to follow the advice of health professionals. It feels like a simple thing that I can do which could help. As a mother, I see it as my priority to keep my children safe. As a human being, I feel compelled to do the same for others. If that means wearing a mask and feeling a little uncomfortable then I’m going with it.
We spent the rest of our day at home. No mask required. I hope that we can get back to a normal that allows us to share special days with family and friends soon, but more importantly, I hope that we make sensible decisions in the meantime while we wait for this to pass.