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Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: Mother’s Day 2021

Being a mother is demanding, challenging, and most of all, hard work. And as if they didn’t have enough to do, the pandemic added an extra burden of work for most mothers.

Coordinating and supervising their children’s education, working from home — or worse, losing a job — while keeping a household functioning on a daily basis has sent all mothers into a whirlwind of days and nights that start early and never stop.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and we’ll devote space here to pay them tribute. Fathers, you have to wait for June, but we won’t forget you, either.

For many mothers, this is not just a time of inconvenience and working harder on less sleep, but a crisis. More than a million mothers have left the work force, according to the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census. One in four American children experienced food insecurity in America last year, which is a result of the loss of working mothers’ incomes, according to The New York times. Closer to home, Island Harvest reports a 47% increase in its food distribution over the past year.

It’s no mystery why 70% of mothers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, have said that worry and stress from the pandemic have damaged their health.

Every generation looks back with envy at what seems an easier time to raise children. But some things never change; the rough times — if eased by helping hands from communities and a government aware of the needs of its constituents — are almost always overtaken by the rewards of providing a firm foundation for the ones we love. Now, this spring, challenges are front and center for those who care for children. The mothers who are steadfast in their role understand this and are inspired to keep their families surviving and flourishing.

Although the pandemic has produced cabin fever on a large scale, many families are saying the enforced isolation has produced a renewed sense of closeness, and this is because of the spirit and energy from the adult in the room, who more often than not is the mother. And often, she must accept the responsibility of keeping a family together and helping young ones navigate the uncertainties and fears of childhood, by going it alone.

According to U.S. Census data, last year there were 15 million single mothers who were the heads of American households, with 20% of children living primarily with a single mother.

We shouldn’t ignore them or stereotype them, but realize the majority of single mothers are sacrificing for their children, holding them close, setting good examples, and loving them. We pay tribute here to those who have been and are in the process of doing their best to give their children values, strong foundations and a chance to become whole, vibrant human beings