A blessing for mothers in pandemic times
By Julia O'Malley
Blessed is every coiled soccer sock you unroll before putting it in the wash.
And the peanut butter and jelly sandwich you throw away, uneaten.
Blessed are you for all you have given up, the minutes of pleasure or accomplishment or peace you haven’t felt, because you have been thinking about what your children need and how you might protect them.
Blessed is your trip to the customer service counter to get tooth fairy cash.
Bless your positive attitude. Bless every single secret, negative thought.
Blessed are you, night nurse, pouring medicine into a teaspoon in a darkened kitchen, lying down in the single bed with the dinosaur sheets, dozing between coughs, rising at the regular time, taking another damn COVID test.
Blessed is the custodian of the passwords, the under-qualified pre-algebra tutor, the resident specialist called to unclog the sink and decide whether the wrist is broken, if the dog has been poisoned by Oreos or whether the fish is dead or asleep. Bless you, too, for somehow making soup for your mom and putting it on her porch.
Bless you, originator of The Calendar, filler of the crockpots (clatter of frozen meatballs and glug of sauce). Bless you for thinking ahead. You are always thinking ahead. What if you didn’t have to think ahead?
Blessed are you, on a Zoom call with a boss who could never understand the knot in your gut, on alert for the sound of distressed children you can’t attend to. May you find relief. May we all find understanding. May you find a better job.
Bless you, crying in the car when you hear that song that you once fell in love to. Bless you, asleep with the phone in your hand. Bless the things you wanted for your life before all this. May you find the time. Just a little time to think about what you want. What do you even want?
Blessed are you, alone in the Safeway aisle in the middle of the day, forgetting what you came in for. Remember this: The rest of us are right here with you.
Sarah Freije sorts laundry in the living room in a self-portrait series on motherhood in pandemic times. (Sarah Freije photo)
Originally published by Anchorage Daily News on November 18, 2022.
Julia O’Malley, writer in residence at Anchorage Museum, has been leading writing groups over the last year where writers reflect on the pandemic experience. In a series of recent classes, they experimented with forms. This piece came out of a class when writers explored the form of a blessing. Read more about her project.Sarah Freije, an Anchorage-based family photographer, made a series of photos during the pandemic that showed images of mothers as saints, as a meditation on the extreme overwhelming and deep sacrifices that came in the era of pandemic parenting.
The Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Museum are collaborating on Neighbors: Stories from Anchorage’s pandemic years. We’re collecting stories and making opportunities for residents to share experiences from the past two years. We’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, go to the form here.