By Monica Hesse / The Washington Post
What I would like for Mother’s Day this year is a new duvet cover, sunglasses, a professional carpet cleaning for the dining room carpet and a [expletive] vaccine for my [expletive] child.
I am writing this column from the basement of my in-laws’ home in a community of working-life retirees, where my family is providing child care in the final days of the pandemic, and where my main way to entertain my 10 month old- his old daughter takes him to watch 85 year old sportsmen play pickle ball, and i can honestly say we are very lucky and also what i would like for mothers day this year is a [expletive] vaccine for my [expletive] child.
For a large percentage of you, this column does not resonate. Maybe you don’t have children. Your children may be over 5 years old and have been vaccinated for months. Maybe your kids are among the 75% of kids (!!) who apparently already had covid in late February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the percentage of you who are still partying like March 2020 i.e. avoiding restaurants and indoor parties, concerts, museums, department stores, Jiffy Lubes, movie theaters , FedEx stores, dentist offices and retirement dinners, and who can count on two hands the number of buildings your child has already visited (my daughter thinks Safeway is Disney World), I know what you want for mother’s day and it’s not a bathrobe.
You’ve wanted it since December 2020, when vaccines became available for people 16 and older. And then since May 2021, when use was extended to teens 12 and older. And then since October 2021, when children aged 5 to 11 could get vaccinated, and then since November 2021, when experts predicted a baby vaccine by the end of the year. And then since February 11, when another unexpected hitch delayed things by “two months”.
The FDA now says vaccines for children under 5 could be available as early as June. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. [Expletive.]
What I would love for Mother’s Day is to go back in time to the part of the pandemic where officials were still saying things like, “We’re all in this together.” I would like them to clarify that what they really meant was, “We’re all in this together until most of us have antibodies, in which case parents of infants and toddlers- uninfected babies are alone there. I would like them to look carefully at the double helix of boredom and rage that inhabits parents who still have to ask for time off because there has been an outbreak of covid in the toddler room at daycare and that someone has to take care of the child. Because we are most certainly alone there.
If I read another stat about how working moms have borne the brunt of the pandemic, I’ll open the window and make incoherent pterodactyl noises for nine minutes straight, because there’s a time to read that It’s crap for all the working mothers who don’t feel useful. It’s like America is doing what it does best: recognizing that working moms are often put in impossible places, then pretending we can make up for it by giving them a vacation where they eat a pancake in bed. .
I don’t want commiseration, I want a shot. Right in my daughter’s big little thigh. Jabby-jab.
The past two years have been difficult for all families. But I’d bet — myopically, perhaps — they’ve been particularly disorienting for families of children whose entire lives, from birth to present, have been encompassed by the pandemic. There is no “before” to return to. There are no lasting memories of what it might have been like to be a parent in a time without covid. I gave birth to my daughter wearing an N95 mask and gave birth to this fragile and gentle human in an incredibly beautiful world she hasn’t seen enough of. I’ll show her everything, as soon as I can lift her gently in my arms, hold her tight, then pin her down on an exam table so a nurse can properly attack her with a needle.
For Mother’s Day, I have [expletive] wants one [expletive] [expletive] vaccine for my [expletive] child. It’s the only thing I want. Also a bottle of good dry shampoo.
Monica Hesse is a columnist for the Style section of the Washington Post, which writes frequently about gender and its impact on society. She is the author of several novels, including the most recent, “Ils est parti”. Follow her on Twitter @MoncaHesse.