Dear Moms,

Like many of us, my day starts early. It is now 10 p.m. as I sip another coffee and begin to write. Moms often appear to seamlessly juggle careers, families and friends. We are the emotional anchor, the keeper of all schedules and the problem solver. 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been hosting virtual meetings with working moms to share our stories and offer support as we navigate new challenges and responsibilities. These moms are teachers, servers, lawyers, health professionals, shop owners and stay-at-home moms – unsung heroes, who work without the paycheck or office door to close.

COVID-19 has shuttered schools and interrupted services. It forced many, including my spouse, out of a job. While moms have always shouldered unobserved burdens, the pandemic adds extra weight that is increasingly cracking our foundations.

Shannon Sneed represents the 13th District of the Baltimore City Council. (Courtesy Photo)

We always wore multiple hats, but they typically didn’t include teacher, IT support, exercise coach, and counselor all at once, and during the ‘work day.’ We didn’t rearrange  our homes to create makeshift classrooms or share laptops with our kids. Meetings were in person, colleagues’ faces didn’t awkwardly freeze on video calls nor was there a continuous loop of “Mom, I need you now!” in the background. 

Well, thank goodness for technology! Wait. How do we turn in this school assignment? What platform is this next meeting on? How can I be late to a virtual meeting? I’m not even commuting! I’m always on time!

Not anymore.

A mom stressed that she can’t keep her three children, or really anything on a schedule and schedules were her life line. Another mom struggles to explain to her children why they can go to the park, but not the playground.

Oh, and you need to wear this mask.

We live in fear and so do our children. We are navigating our own uncertainties and anxieties around survival while simultaneously holding space when our children come to us crying because their lives changed instantly.

Every mom expressed the challenges that come with newly added responsibilities and diminished boundaries between personal and professional lives. There is simply not enough time to do it all – and do it all well.

“This is hard. I’m beyond overwhelmed.”

Late nights and early mornings offer a hot commodity in our new work and school from home reality – no interruptions. Implementing this ‘flexible’ work around the clock schedule is a theme echoed by moms across Baltimore. 

I’ll cook dinner just as soon as I finish this email… Please just give me five minutes to finish this email!

Enter mom guilt.

We all have guilt, but now we worry we are not providing sufficient attention to our children even though we are actually home with them! Screen time has significantly increased. Bedtime routines are now akin to fairy tales. We sacrifice weekends to meet status quo deadlines even though standard operating procedures no longer apply.

Deadlines have a new meaning – I’ve hit the end of my line and I’m dead tired.

Many treat it as indulgent, but some ‘me’ time is necessary to ensure we are emotionally, physically and mentally capable of showing up for our children. Every mom expressed that self care is a thing of the past. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. 

It’s all consuming and unrealistic being a working mom during the pandemic. But it kind of always has been.

As moms we are expected to work as though we do not have children and raise children as though we do not work.

And the work never stops.

As a Councilwoman, I fight for families. I fight for safe and family-sustaining conditions and benefits. I fight to ensure equal pay for equal work. 

As a woman, my contribution to the labor force is under appreciated and underpaid.

Women make 82 percent of what our male colleagues make, and Black and Latina women make 61 and 53 percent, respectively. One in three jobs held by women has been designated as essential. Non-White women are more likely to be doing essential jobs than anyone else. If fortunate to have paid time off after childbirth, it comes with a severe motherhood penalty, overall 20 percent less earnings than male counterparts.

COVID-19 further illuminates disparities in our society, including gender disparities. Let’s stop beating ourselves up for unrealistic expectations, especially during extra challenging times. Instead, let’s recognize the ‘normal’ of pre-pandemic wasn’t entirely working and strategize a new normal moving forward. 

I celebrate you, super Mom. Happy Mother’s Day! 

Shannon Sneed represents the 13th District of the Baltimore City Council.