On Mothering in a Time of Chaos

on mothering in chaos
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Have you been taking walks outside in your neighborhood lately? You know what I’m talking about, then. The streets. The empty streets.

It would feel strangely romantic if it weren’t so eerie.

Approaching the “peak death date” of April 12 here in the United States (Hi, Debbie Downer, nice to meet you.), our collective awareness of mortality has never been higher. Not in this generation, at least. And I have to wonder, in the midst of all of this surviving, how are we really being impacted beneath it all?

I read this piece on LaTonya Yvette’s blog last night that just did something to me. It’s called, “How to Mother a Stranger, If That Stranger is You.” And guys… I very nearly lost it.

Reading the title alone of that piece stopped me in my tracks.

Here I am, here we are—all of us—as women, as mothers, trudging through these days, alternating between a soul-deep gratitude for that which with we’ve been blessed (the home to live, our children, the time together), and the sheer terror of any of that being taken away.

LaTonya says in the piece, “I am still wading trough. In retrospect, the last 25 days have only been possible because I’ve been honest with myself about this fact. That the currents of overwhelmed energy flow because I am unsure and displaced, needing a hug or a center.”


I did something kind of embarrassing today… you know, if I were the type of person to be embarrassed by my usually-intense emotions. I cried—not a weep, a cry—in front of my 7-year-old son. The one whose stubbornness is so strong at times I quite literally feel it bending my soul. That strength of will is gift, yes, but also a tremendous barrier to the whole getting-stuff-done (like schoolwork) part of our day that the pandemic has now laid upon our shoulders as mothers.

I asked him, “Could you just please, please, cooperate? Could you listen without complaining, or asking a dozen questions, or making me tell you why? Because Mommy is tired, and she has a lot of stuff to do lately.”
I didn’t intend to go all least-common-denominator and cry to force him to listen, but it just happened. And it worked.

And the most beautiful thing happened next. 

He said, “Okay, mommy. I’m here to take care of you too.”


At that moment, I knew very well that it was more than one difficult morning pushing me over the edge. Like you, I have been adept at shoveling away the trauma I’ve experienced in neat little pockets, happily distracted by the chaos of Regular Daily Life. And like you, that veneer fell when we were all forced to sit with ourselves, and those who need us, a little (a lot) longer than we ever have before.

So I’m asking you this, too. Besides the bare streets, are you also seeing this in your home, and your heart, lately?

The resurgence of things that maybe you’ve also pushed down—deep down—unintentionally or not?

Do you—the mother—need too to be mothered?

As mothers, we are always forced to find ways to center ourselves in times of chaos, or difficulty. But now, I can firmly say that this little tweak in my view of myself, of what I’m now doing—of what we are all doing—is giving me a renewed sense of appreciation, and care, for myself. A desire to look upon myself with more tenderness, more forgiveness, than before. And to realize, that even if—actually because—we are mothers, we need now, more than ever, to turn that mothering right back on ourselves.


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