The Sum: Mother’s Day in a Pandemic

Issue 128 — May 10, 2020

The phones are ringing, the texts are buzzing, social media notifications are pinging, and the Zooms and Zoom Rooms are being scheduled throughout the day to connect with family members so we can wish each other Happy Mother’s Day (almost) in person.

I’m beyond fortunate to have a combined nuclear family of six children and 15 grandchildren, plus their spouses and significant others plus some other “children from other mothers” my husband Alex and I have collected along the way of our long life journeys. And then there are friends and cousins who are checking in today and/or texting Mother’s Day sentiments. Maybe it’s my imagination but it seems like way more than usual. Perhaps because we are so physically separate, we feel a compelling need to reach out and be together in one virtual space or another.

All this is to explain why the long treatise on motherhood and whether the consequences of the pandemic will in the end be good for moms or bad for moms that has been stewing in my mind as I’ve read articles that present many facets of that discussion and speculated various scenarios about the future of the women in the workplace, will have to wait for next week. Maybe the path forward will be clearer by then, and maybe not.

Mother’s Day is a day for a bit of nostalgia and for putting mothers on fluffy pink flowered pedestals. Yet Anna Jarvis, who created the idea for Mother’s Day as a sentimental recognition of the importance of the work of mothering, later disowned what it has become: a huge boon for greeting card companies and florists, and for the brunch business back in the day when we could go to restaurants.

So today, instead of my usual column, I want to do only three things:

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First to honor my own late mother Florence Feldt. Here we are in this photo when I was about three years old.

Second to thank my own three biological children, Tammy, Linda, and David Bosse, who all came into this world when I was a very young woman, not well equipped to be a great mother, but they put up with me nevertheless and have turned out to be not only fine adults but also excellent parents or parental surrogates to nephews and nieces whether or not they have produced biological children.

This is one of my favorite photos. These silhouettes were each done by their kindergarten teacher Mrs. Dublin, and their personalities show through so incredibly well that I keep them framed above my desk to this day.

Which brings me to say that there are many ways of mothering. Gloria Steinem, who has no biological children but has birthed a dozen or more organizations that help all women and by extension all children, first told me that. That’s why when I read this lovely poem written by friend and another leader for women’s equality Tamara Kreinin’s mother Marlaina Kreinin who recently passed away, I asked if I could reprint it here with credits. Enjoy, and pass it on to others who are mothers of any kind.

What is a Mother?

Happy Mother’s Day!

And as an extra gift for the day, enjoy this beautiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow” by Marina Arsenjievic.

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