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A reflection on the meaning of Mother’s Day this year.

May 7, 2020

I used to complain about how busy we were. Busy was the currency for success, it seemed. When you ran into a friend, “how are you?” was answered with “busy”…. 4 games in one day…. plus two birthday parties… pinewood derby is coming up… I wish I could clone myself… Am I right? We were constantly going. We went to a myriad of practices, lessons, religious ed, tutoring, play dates, community service events, parent meetings, clubs, scouts, and running all the errands required to keep the machine of life operating at maximum capacity. Oh how that’s changed…

We’ve traded busy for something else. I haven’t figured out exactly what that is, but I’m confident that it’s a lot harder than busy. We know it takes a village. Now, our village has distanced: grandparents (we miss you the most!), coaches, teachers, mentors, tutors, pastors, friends, therapists, hair stylists (also therapists), house cleaners, Sunday school teachers, fellow soccer moms, even the random conversations with humans as we go about our day are mostly gone. And we may be left feeling pressured to fill the void. On top of that, the desire to help our kids has intensified. I applaud the valiant efforts by all to stitch our village back together with technology, which is awesome and inspiring. Amazing people have done wonderful things. Go team! But, admittedly, it’s a lot harder to do and doesn’t yield quite the same benefit.

And our kids are different, too. They’re also trying to navigate this and don’t always make good decisions. Because, they’re kids… and this is hard for them. We used to have policies and procedures to dole out consequences for infractions. But what about now? Do they need discipline or grace? How to know the difference? And when consequences absolutely need to be enforced, how on earth do you ground a kid when social distancing is the norm? Hmmmmm. Uncharted territory.

Our partners and spouses are working from home, and that is an adjustment. Thankfully, our family made this transition about a year ago, I know the struggle. It is real. We’re not used to a full house ALL DAY LONG. Raise your hand if you’ve gotten a text from two rooms away saying the kids need to be quiet. Or, we’re working from home ourselves. And teaching (trying our best, at least). And cooking. And cleaning. And grocery procuring. What’s that, you say?

I’ve promoted myself to Grocery Procurement Specialist, formerly known as family grocery shopper. The title sounds more important and complicated because it is. It requires exceptional attention to detail, logistical planning, and meticulous analysis in an ongoing effort to predict the dynamic consumption demands of the kids. Said another way, they eat constantly and moan and whine about the same stuff they gobbled up last week. And, I find myself running a constant mental inventory of pantry, freezer, and refrigerator contents. Just quiz me about my pantry: One brownie mix, finally got flour, down to 3/8 of a gallon of milk, tons of beans (in case we can’t get meat). This often results in lashing out with “save some XYZ, because the next instacart doesn’t come for 2 more days!” It’s mentally exhausting.

I also find myself looking into the proverbial crystal ball in the attempt to secure the critical or not-so-critical household item before it becomes impossible to find. Hurray!!! We found a puzzle!!!!! And sidewalk chalk!!!!! And thermometer probe covers!!! Said nobody… until recently.

We have to think about EVERYTHING. Things we never even thought of before. Like, is it safe to “this” – whatever “this” is? Don’t go too fast, too high, or too hard, because we don’t want to go to the ER. Wash your hands after you touch anything. And telling your kids to wash hands. With soap. Longer. Constantly. Use the disinfectant wipes, but not too many, because we can’t get more. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine deeming someone sponge worthy? Yep, that. With wipes.

Every sniffle or tickle in our throat makes us think. Maybe not worry, but it’s a thought. And thoughts have weight.

I had a conversation with a good friend the other day, as she was helping me through some anxiety. Here’s the thing. I handle stress well. I do. I consider myself to be optimistic and resilient. My friend pointed out that I also take on the stress of others around me. I hadn’t fully recognized that until she said it. All these new thoughts and fears and what-ifs have weight. A little bit here, a little more there. Even the light ones add up and become heavy. And, now, multiply that by the people that I care about, because I’m carrying their stress, too. And, then, all of a sudden, it’s just too much and you’re laying face down on your exercise mat hoping nobody hears you sobbing as you wonder how big the puddle of tears will become. Or, you’re debating calling the paramedics at 3:00 am because your heart went into a weird flurry and you’re dizzy and shaking and think that you’re about to lose consciousness and die. True story. Both. But with the bad, there’s the good. While I carry their stress, I also carry their joy. I love that.

I’m not exactly sure why I’m sharing this, except that I’m finding my voice and I have a pretty strong feeling that I’m not alone. From conversations with many other moms, life now is really hard. And also good. And everything in between.

So, why does this matter? Why open up so publicly, so uncharacteristically right now? Because Mother’s Day is Sunday. And, if there ever was a time to celebrate moms, it’s now. They do so much. Give so much. Love so much. Momming has always been hard; it’s exponentially harder now. And, not to add any pressure to the dads out there…. (ha!)…. I think every mom deserves a little extra love.

To all my favorite moms out there, I love you! You’re doing great! I’m here for you. Mother’s Day is usually focused on celebrating the mother in your own family. But, I think, this year, we can help to lighten the load by giving some love to all moms.

To all my wonderful friends, fellow-soccer moms, theater moms, PTA moms, moms group moms, bible study moms, all the moms I’ve had the privilege to photograph, soon-to-be moms (YAY, you know who you are!), neighbor moms, the friendly store clerk moms, nurse moms, doctor moms, teacher moms, principal moms, essential worker moms, moms who add so much more to my life than a good haircut and style, single moms who have it way harder than so many, and all the moms I haven’t mentioned here, I’ll be thinking of you this Sunday. I’ll be hoping that you’re feeling loved and appreciated for all that you take on, for the thoughts and the weight that you carry, because you love so deeply.

I also know that the weight that we’re carrying now is making us stronger. That is worth celebrating. Happy Mother’s Day.

  1. Amy says:

    I love you, Julie! And thank you for putting into words what many of us are feeling. The other day I Googled “is it possible to have too much empathy?” The answer is YES. And it’s not good. Yep, that’s me, but there are ways to help it. Turn that empathy into COMPASSION. We need to work through the empathy, work past it to reach the compassion!

    Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. It’s time to celebrate us on Sunday. Yes, we’re worth it.

    • Julie Monacella says:

      I love you, too, Amy!! That’s such good insight. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day to you, too! Xoxo

  2. Brandi says:

    Absolutely beautiful!!! Happy Mothers Day!!!

  3. john monacella says:

    Your heart spoke!!! You are a wonderful mother!!! Happy Mother”s Day .! Love you an all you do, Judy & John

  4. Cindy Malin says:

    Beautiful commentary, Julie!! ❤️

  5. Katie says:

    That was beautifully said and so spot on.

  6. Marcy says:

    Beautiful. Workout mats are perfect people and puddle holders. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself.


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