Opinion: In mid-lockdown, Mother's Day is on you, Dad

Mother's Day is on you, Dad

Good morning, Dads. You’re in trouble. You forgot which Sunday it is, didn’t you? Normally this wouldn’t be that big a deal, because your kids would have come home with a carefully crafted card in the backpack.

Alas, these are not normal times, as we have been told non-stop for the past two months. You can’t count on your children’s school to cover your butt on Mother’s Day this year, Dad.

That means no vases made from mason jars. No popsicle-stick napkin holders. No coffee cup with the words World’s Best Mom spelled out in glued-on glitter that you’ll be vacuuming out of the carpet and/or dog for the next six months.

Mother’s Day is all up to you, Pa. That’s pa as in pandemic. Or panic.

Breakfast in bed? Too late. Unless you’re already buttering the bread, you’re toast. Go to the grocery store now and you’ll spend 20 minutes staring at the back of another dad’s head, six feet away, in what looks like the men’s room lineup at a Royals game.

Can’t take her out for brunch, either, not this year. Some restaurants are doing delivery — phone now, your eggs benny and mimosas might arrive by Wednesday.

Take her to a movie? No. Concert? No. Ballet? Hell no. Mother’s Day Paint-in at Royal Roads? Not this year, for the first time in a quarter century.

Maybe a gift, something rare and cherished: toilet paper, or hand sanitizer, or baking supplies (“Say it with flours”).

Maybe you should just whip up your own card with a COVID-themed message from you and the children:

• “Be calm, be safe, be kind of nice if you were to make bacon and eggs for breakfast.”

• “If they rammed a Q-tip up my nose to check our love for you, it would test positive.”

• “To help flatten your curves, we got you an exercise bike. But not a Peloton. They’re expensive.”

You could always absolve yourself of all responsibility by airily declaring “You’re not MY mother” — a wholly accurate, logical argument — but this approach might prove to be less persuasive than it is suicidal.

For here’s the deal: This has been a tough year to be a mother. Women who might once have debated the relative merits of full-time employment versus being a stay-at-home mom have discovered that — surprise! — they get to do both at the same time.

Cue the tears of joy. Great, heaving sobs of joy.

Some mothers not only get to juggle full-time parenting with full-time careers, they get to be part-time teachers, too. Teachers of subjects they thought they had left behind with their orthodontic devices and Backstreet Boys posters. Great, why not bring back zits, too?

Parents who couldn’t figure out the tip on a $2 coffee now find themselves wrestling with questions like: “If two trains 300 kilometres apart are travelling toward each other, one with a constant speed of 70 km/h and the other 50 km/h, how long will it take them to meet?”

The answer, of course, is: “Ask your mother.”

This last bit reflects another reality: The lockdown workload is not being shared equally. A survey done for the New York Times this week indicated the burden of homeschooling children during the pandemic has fallen disproportionately on mothers — though fathers don’t necessarily view it that way. The study found that while almost half of fathers with children under age 12 report spending more time teaching the kids than their partners do, just three per cent of mothers say their spouse is doing more of the educating. Eighty per cent of mothers say it is they who do more of the tutoring.

When the same couples were asked who does the most cooking and cleaning during the lockdown, 31 per cent of men said they do, while 82 per cent of women saw themselves as doing the lion’s share. (Or, rather, the lioness’s share, since it’s the females who do the majority of the hard work hunting while Simba lolls on the couch in the savannah, drinking beer and watching Sportsnet.)

The Times isn’t the only one noting this gap. Britain’s Guardian ran a piece headlined “Women’s domestic burden just got heavier with the coronavirus,” while the Washington Post wrote “Moms will inevitably shoulder extra domestic work during this pandemic.” (Fox News weighed in with “Praying mantis eats murder hornet in frightening video.”) Apparently this subject isn’t all that funny after all.

BTW, for those wondering about the train question, the answer is 2 1Ú2 hours. No word on whether Mom spent the time in the bar car.

Jack Knox is a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist

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