Well, here we are. A new year, yet the same fear plaguing every action we take. Is this safe? Is this smart? Our defenses always up, our masks always on, yet these masks and prayed-for vaccines no longer enough to protect us against the new variant flooding the country.
There will be repercussions on our psyches, these two years of fear. I feel it already, a new orientation where the status quo is staying home and seeing no one outside of my immediate family, because that is the only choice that feels 100% safe. But it is not safe for our sanity. We were not made to be hermits; we were made for community. Despite the fact that I am an introvert, and often wish I could just hole up in my room with a stack of books and endless days to myself, I know deep in my bones that I need others. I need them to make me laugh, remind me of my roles outside of wife, writer, and mother, to remember that I am not alone in my struggles. We also need other people when we mother. We were never meant to be the end-all be-all for our children. We were meant to depend on extended family, day cares, schools, neighbors, babysitters, even strangers in the park, flanking the playground where our mutual charges are playing.
But this pandemic has placed us all in tiny boxes of isolation. And I sometimes wonder when we will truly feel safe to come out. My children, ages eight and ten, were finally vaccinated in November. We thought we’d crossed the finish line, and yet here we are, still feeling so vulnerable. So at risk. So unsure of how to move forward.
Reading can help us feel connected, even when we are all alone, through the spark of recognition that ignites when a writer puts into words what you’ve felt yourself. The pieces in this issue of Literary Mama touch on the anxiety we all feel right now, because anxiety has always been prevalent in mothering. Will what we have provided for our children be enough when we’re gone? Will our love for a child that is not biologically ours be sufficient? Am I failing my children even as I seek to keep them safe?
So much of our anxiety stems from love, and the desire to be the scaffolding for the lives of those we love. But I want to remind us that we, as mothers, are also finite. We cannot hold up the world indefinitely without it breaking our backs. Our constant sacrifice is not required. Love does not demand selflessness, because a self is an essential component of love. Within this issue, you will find this message: Do not forget who you are. Do not deny what you need. You, as mother, deserve all the love and care that you bestow upon your charges. You are allowed to want something for yourself.
It has been a hard two years. May the reflections in this issue allow you to feel seen, acknowledged, and supported as we plow through the uncertainty ahead.