Mother’s Day during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic will be different than previous years for many mothers, some of whom are working on the healthcare and long-term care front lines in the battle against the deadly virus. Some will miss going to Mass, others will miss visiting extended family — including their own mothers.

Darlene Hester, who attends St. Anthony Church in Burlington, has been an intensive care nurse since 1991 — and 24 years of that in a surgical ICU at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She has four children ages 17, 20, 22, 24. “Our family is making the best of the situation, but we certainly are eager for the restrictions to be lifted and attend Mass again,” she said.

She is working in the non-Covid ICU. “We have been unable to attend Mass but, we still pray the rosary at home and reflect on the readings. I think after this is over, I will appreciate the ability to go to Mass even more.”

For her, this Mother’s Day won’t be different from other years “because the kids will still make dinner,” she said. “We don’t do anything fancy.”

But Kristy Mosher, full-time dietary manager at Michaud Manor in Derby Line, usually goes to her mother’s house in Newport and cooks dinner for her, and the whole family gets together. Later she and her family visit her in-laws. “But this year we are social distancing so we won’t be able” to make the visits, she lamented. “It’ll be a little bit heartbreaking” not to see her mother and hug her.

Mosher has three children ages 9, 15 and 18, all distance learning. Asked how she juggles it all, she laughed and replied, “I’ve been told I have patience.” But she also has to prioritize and multi-task.

Patience is also a virtue Billie Jo Abbott, a part-time licensed practical nurse at Michaud Manor, relies on. She has six children, five at home ranging in age from 4 to 20, and four are distance learning. She is balancing her own work, her children’s school work and parenting.

With emails, school work and online learning she needs patience and concentration, but “by the end of the week we seem to somehow finish it,” she said, noting her husband, Chad, helps.

A Brownington resident, she said she “wants to go to work and do my part to” help during the pandemic.

Her children have been planning something for Mother’s Day, which she called “wicked cool.” But instead of celebrating with other family members, she and her immediate family will “find something to do like go fishing” in the Clyde river. “Hopefully they’ll do the dishes” too, she added with a laugh.

Because of the pandemic, Cheri French, a registered nurse in the operating room at UVM Medical Center, won’t be able to travel to Connecticut to visit her mother and sister to celebrate the special day. “I have not seen my family (there) since February, and seeing I am a nurse, it will be a while before we are able to visit family as I don’t want to increase their risk” of contacting the virus, said the Rice Memorial High School parent.

French has two children, aged 18 and 22. “Because I am a nurse, I am still working full time so it has been very stressful trying to assist my youngest son with his homework,” she said.

Mary-Margaret Carroll of St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Hinesburg is another mother approaching Mother’s Day while her two children are distance learning during the pandemic. The art director for the Diocese of Burlington and an instructor at the Community College of Vermont has a son who is 9, a daughter who is 6 and a step-daughter who is 17.

This Mother’s Day is not very different than in previous years for her. “Both my mother and I do not like to go out to breakfast on Mother’s Day because it’s too crowded, so we always do a Mother’s Day brunch,” she explained. “We are still doing that this year, especially now that the [Vermont] governor is allowing for inter-household socializing.”

Working remotely, she misses going to work. She worked from home extensively from 2010 to 2019, so working from home is not new to her. “However, I am an extrovert, and I miss my colleagues. I miss being able to leave my house every day to go to a different space,” she said.

Managing her children’s remote learning while working from home has been extremely challenging. “But trying to do my own work from home plus coordinate all the lessons and online meetings was basically impossible,” Carroll said. Fortunately, her step-daughter recently finished her semester at Community College of Vermont and is now working as the younger children’s nanny, coordinating their lessons each day. “This has been a blessing for everyone. She needed a summer job, I needed childcare help, her siblings have missed her. It’s a win all around,” Carroll said.

She has found solace in her practice of morning prayer and evening prayer and praying the rosary. “I am eager to go back to Mass, as is my son who made his First Communion last year,” she said. “I am looking forward to being able to visit church for private prayer — that is going to feel very nice.”

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