Sorry Mum, I won’t be able to visit you this Mother’s Day
You may have already realised, but I won’t be coming to visit you for Mother’s Day this year, so I’m penning a note instead.
I did think of baking you a cake to drop off during a socially-distanced doorstop drive-by, but when I went to my local supermarket, it seemed a horde of doomsday preppers had beaten me to it: Aisle 5, once offering the comfort of my basic home baking ingredients had been reduced to nothing more than barren shelves and ghostly remnants of the self-raising flour and icing sugar I’d too often taken for granted.
It got me thinking, Mum, about what else I’d taken for granted before this whole pandemic and its universally crazy response went into overdrive. It seems I may have taken your life’s lessons, the values you gave me as a youngster for granted. I’ve also realised, with a somewhat heavy heart, that so many of us (world leaders included) have let our moral guide posts bend right out of the way of the next stampede of hoarding pessimists. Have we all forgotten the lessons our mothers imparted on us in childhood, like one collective memory wipe? That’s a scary take on ‘gone viral’!
But really, this pandemic has highlighted a sad trend: that the good, honest, hard-working, love-thy-neighbour values have seemingly vaporized. Is it all the sanitizer we’re spraying around the atmosphere? We certainly haven’t found a vaccine yet, or an aerosol spray that will work against this invisible, deadly enemy. Is it because we’re all existing in a haze of hand sanitizer that we’ve forgotten the virtues of selflessness and altruism – the very ones you insisted, Mum, were the foundation of community?
Just because someone in Wuhan with a taste for Pangolin unwittingly unleashed the century’s greatest viral enemy should we suddenly pile our shopping trolleys to the brim with toilet paper, tissues and paper towel as though we’re about to have a two year long bout of diarrhoea – even though we know it means that there won’t be any left for those who visit the supermarket after 8.43am? And if you’re a cruise ship operator with hundreds of virus carriers on board your boat, of course it’s better to rush everyone off in the wee hours of the morning to test their contagion capabilities in the wider community than risk them being forced into quarantine on your vessel at your company’s expense? And the hypocrisy of some politicians telling us to stay at home whilst driving off for a long weekend at their holiday home!
Which brings me to the leadership on show. Mum, you always said that good leaders were honest, credible, inspirational and transparent. Yet across the globe we are seeing subterfuge, misinformation and outright lies. Take China, with its dense population and the unfortunate title of having initiated the virus, has less COVID-19 related deaths than many European countries? And North Korea has zero COVID-19 deaths despite sharing a border with China? Something’s not quite adding up there. And in the USA, where the virus went from being a “hoax” to potentially curable by injecting ourselves with disinfectant, the good people of Michigan (and other states) are protesting in the streets about lockdown laws, egged on by the man at the helm of their Great Country. It appears that as the most positive attributes of Joe Public have fallen victim to the Corona Virus, so too has the true statesman-esque ilk of our leaders in the face of a 21st Century pandemic.
And then there’s Home Schooling. Mum, what terror these two words have brought to the homes of countless families across the land! I’m not surprised that Google has reported an exponential increase in the number of searches relating to domestic violence; second only to searches on ‘Wine Delivery Near Me’. I also wonder how its analytics would track searches relating to parent/child relationships? Though I suspect that there might actually be more searches performed by kids as to how to poison or divorce their parents than there are searches by parents about how to keep their kids on the straight and narrow while cooped up in isolation, unable to attend school and their usual extra-curricular activities. Just last week I came home to find a note blue-tacked to Ashton’s door to counsel his own mother against entry; “I HAVE COVID-19. STAY AWAY. Also beware of the dog!” Hmm, maybe there can be a limit to the time spent teaching one’s offspring about how to instill the best virtues for a long and successful life post-COVID-19. I suspect that this home-schooling thing is universally testing the limits of maternal love. Sometimes I wonder if I am going to arrive home to my front door roped off by police ticker tape as a homicide crime scene! But you will be pleased to know that Millie the French bulldog seems unperturbed by lockdown and the unrelenting presence of humans in her environs.
Anyway Mum, I just thought I would let you know that in this troubled time I find myself constantly remembering the lessons you taught. And that despite virus enforced isolation, I still believe in the value of trust, respect and relationships. And the worth of honesty, compassion and transparency with those I work with and who look to me for direction and support. With more time on my hands, and headspace in my mind, I have noticed all the qualities of those people usually so consistent in my every day. I’d taken their lively conversations, wit and dark humour for granted. And while working from home has some benefits (no morning commute!) I am missing – as you must be – the daily interaction and contact with like-minded beings. But for you, it must be so much more challenging as your world revolves around your children, your grand-children and the simple pleasures of a smile, a hug, and conversation. It’s just not the same via Zoom, is it?
So while we as working parents, business owners, dinner-party holders, event participants and 21st Century citizens navigating our way through this pandemic, we haven’t forgotten the impact it is having on the most vulnerable to this insidious disease. And as Mother’s Day approaches, I think of you and wish I could do more to restore the quality of life that you enjoyed when you could travel, hug, converse in close proximity and hold your grandkids close. I’m sorry that this pandemic will greatly impact your special day this year. But it’s been a great prompt for me to remember the crucial values that you imparted in our childhood. I miss our hugs Mum, and I’d love to share open a nice bottle of red with you, but I’m really sorry Mum; I won’t be able to visit you this Sunday.