For Mother’s Day today, the regular reminders apply: call your Mom. Visit if you can. Give flowers or gifts. Reach out to those whose mothers may have passed, too, because this is a hard day for them.
But since this is a space for politics and public policy, consider this also a reminder that one of the most important things we can do for Moms all across the country is to get vaccinated (if you are medically able.)
Despite schools reopening across the country, many families are still concerned about returning. Despite evidence showing that transmission in school is limited as long as protocols, are observed. Their fears are not idle. There have been multiple recent outbreaks of the virus in schools, forcing many to shut down. And those are just the cases we know about. And while COVID presents much less risk of hospitalization and death to the old than to the very young, serious cases do occur among the young. Importantly, we still aren’t clear on the long-term effects of the virus on any group, including the very young. It is not unreasonable for parents to be concerned about their children contracting the virus.
But after over a year of both work and childcare at home for millions of Americans, we have realized both the limits of virtual learning and the limits of our patience for continuing to live this way.
Unfortunately, due to structural sexism in society the majority of burden of childcare in the pandemic has fallen on women and mothers–both in terms of career prospects and at-home stress\:
The pandemic has touched every group of Americans, and millions are suffering, hungry and grieving. But many mothers in particular get no space or time to recover.
The impact is not just about mothers’ fate as workers, though the economic fallout of these pandemic years might have lifelong consequences. The pandemic is also a mental health crisis for mothers that fervently needs to be addressed, or at the very least acknowledged.
Until we reach herd immunity against COVID in the general , responsible parents will continue to face excessive stress in attempting to care for and protect their children. And most of that impact will fall on women and mothers.
Unfortunately, vaccination rates have slowed significantly, as Americans eager to get the vaccine have mostly already had the opportunity to do so. But that group only accounts for a fraction of what is needed to reach herd immunity.
There is, of course, an element of conservative America that has been and remains hostile to every protective measure against the virus, from masks to vaccines. Their social pathologies have been well explored, and little need be said about that here. It is up to the reader to decide how much of their behavior is the fault of conservative media, of Donald Trump, or of conservative white evangelical culture writ large. The anti-vaccination movement among a certain element of low-trust left-libertarians is also a factor. How to reach these folks remains an open question, but most of them likely aren’t reading this piece.
But a large portion of Americans aren’t hostile the vaccine; they just haven’t quite bothered to get it yet for one reason or another. Perhaps they haven’t found the time; perhaps they’re in an age category where they don’t feel it’s a threat; perhaps they just don’t like needles (I don’t, either, but it’s really not that bad); perhaps they’re scared of stories about side effects from the vaccine (really, COVID itself is much worse); perhaps they’ve heard conspiracy theories that the vaccine changes your DNA or has a microchip in it (no, it doesn’t and–seriously?–no, it really doesn’t); perhaps they already had COVID and feel their own natural resistance to it will be enough (not true: the vaccine is much more effective in preventing re-infection.) None of those are good excuses.
If you’re reading this and fall into that category, please consider making plans to get vaccinated this Mother’s Day. Millions of mothers are desperate to protect their children and put this awful era behind us. Please help them and all the rest of us try to get back to normal.