Mother’s Day in the time of Corona in NYC

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I have one son. And he means the world to me. 17 years ago, he was born the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I celebrated my first Mother’s Day all achy and tired but holding this precious little breathing human being in my arms. It was the best gift ever and continues to be the best gift ever every time this day comes along.

We usually celebrate with a fancy dinner, just the two of us — and I always look forward to the card he gives me, whether store bought or handmade. This year, I think I’ll give him a pass but I wouldn’t mind one even if delayed.

He has always had a gift for words. I loved the scribbling, and the attempts at art. I look at him and I am filled with a different kind of bliss beyond words.

These days he sleeps until noon, or a little later — when I let him. Online learning has been on a modular basis, so he can log on and watch videos and receive homework with a deadline for submission. He and his friends meet “online” playing video games after dinner, staying up until the wee hours. Iused to get concerned with the unhealthy sleeping hours, but I’ve learned to live with it and just define limits. He can stay up as late as he wants, as long as he wakes up by noon and eats breakfast or brunch, and does his daily attendance and any work required from school. I have learned to pick my battles and respect that he, too, is dealing with this whole new normal and I have to help him do it in a way that works for him, not just for me.

So we had dinner with just us again, but this time at home. No surprise flowers or cards. Or maybe I might get a surprise yet. Just being with him here is gift enough. Having him for a son makes it all worth it. Having him, period. That’s what makes this day special.

I already video chatted with my own mom as Mother’s Day hit Manila 12 hours earlier. In the midst of their own quarantine, only my sister is with my Mom, so we pulled in my brothers. The physical therapist is living in the hospital, social distancing to ensure the he doesn’t bring any possible infection home. The other brother is with his family in another part of town.

Like most families these days, we communicate via video chat, sometimes as a family or just separately. I try to check in with them daily, even if mom is hard of hearing. She sees me, I see her, and we say hello or goodnight — it reassures me as much as it must reassure her that we are okay on both sides of the world.

The cemeteries opened to allow those who want to visit their moms a chance to pay their respects. It’s a bittersweet day because there are many mothers, both young and old, who perished in the current pandemic. Some of them may not have even had the chance to have a proper funeral. These days, even the business of laying our dead to rest has become complicated by the fears of contamination.

And so we all celebrate a different way, but we celebrate all the same.

Happy Mother’s Day..

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