Living through History in this Mother’s Lifetime: COVID-19 Edition


COVID-19… did this one ever turn the world on its butt!

What were the other big events during this mother’s lifetime, you ask?

If you were alive then, you remember everything about President Kennedy being shot. I was 10. I recall a teacher running down the hall yelling, “The president has been shot!” They sent us home from school early, and when I walked into the house, I saw my mother sitting in a chair just inches away from the TV. She was crying. I thought to myself, why is she crying? She doesn’t even know him.

living through history in this mother's lifetime- Kennedy's assassination Kids!

Then there was the first man on the moon… nice to recall a happy occurrence in this mother’s lifetime. I was at Camp Hochelaga and the entire camp huddled in front of a small TV to see the monumental event.

Living through history in a mother's lifetime- a man on the moonI never thought the world could be rocked more than it was on 9/11! No one will ever forget that day. I was in New York. I had my Burlington-based eponymous clothing store at the time, and this was my monthly buying trip. My trip was scheduled for Monday through Wednesday. If you recall, 9/11 happened on a Tuesday. I can remember every hour of that day, sort of like I can recall every hour I was in labor with my daughter.

Anyone alive today will have many memories of what we are living through now.

What will we tell the next generation when this is history? Kennedy’s assassination, the first man on the moon, and 9/11 were day-long events that altered life forever. Did we reflect enough about the fallout from these events? What do you even call history as it happens in this mother’s lifetime? How long will this coronavirus rage on? Are we experiencing what our ancestors lived through during the Great Depression, with the ever-changing fear and the uncertainty? They didn’t know when that was going to end either. How about living in Europe during both World Wars?

If you lived through any of those horrible times, life got good again. Don’t forget.

What will happen with the coronavirus in this mother’s lifetime?

These are interesting thoughts, but we are living through this now! It is hard to have perspective when basic necessities are in limited supply and we have no clear idea when this will end. How are you coping, Vermont moms? I am so grateful that my children are grown and I don’t have my store anymore!

Moms, this, I bet, is probably the biggest challenge of your life. The biggest challenge of any mother’s lifetime. How to work from home and have your kids there. Being uncertain about what your future holds. Being isolated. Not knowing when you’ll be able to work. Worrying about money. Worrying about everyone’s health.

I was talking with a friend who lives alone. She is a widow and her children are grown and live out of town. She feels very alone. Maybe this will remind you to see your own glass as half full and be grateful that you have your kids at home. Doesn’t make it easier?

Grab what you can to be grateful for. Your mind is powerful and optimism is healthy.

Once you are a mother, you get the job for life, no matter where your kids are. My daughter and her partner were going to leave for Spain on March 13th. I don’t tell her what to do anymore, however, I was very forceful when I told them to stay home! Within 2 days, Spain was completely shut down. You should always listen to your mother.

In some ways, this is like a bad sci-fi movie. The whole country is shut down? School is closed? No one is going to work? The stock market is crashing? How could you have prepared for this?

grandmother and baby- finding joy in this mother's lifetimeMoms, how are you getting through the days?

Are you taking lots of walks, doing lots of puzzles (kill me now), hanging around with your immediate family, and laughing? Simple things are making me feel good, like cooking together and even cleaning together, organizing closets and drawers. What’s with all of the stuff we collect?

Some people are grabbing this time to do things they never had time for or didn’t think they had time for. My brother is more than halfway through writing a book! What? That is my exact idea of torture! He is an introvert, and I think he has liked the peace and quiet of staying at home.

I’ve been reading a lot of jokes on Facebook regarding the COVID 15. That would be fifteen pounds gained due to the pandemic. Don’t hate me, but I have actually lost nine pounds. In late February, I started watching what I eat and moving more, and let me tell you, it has been much easier to share my new routine with women rather than my husband who always just says eat less, move more. Are men really that simple? I actually think that changing my eating and drinking patterns has been easier with social distancing. I am not going to friends’ houses for dinner, they are not coming here, and we are not eating out, and these are all big triggers for me.

How is work going for you, Vermont moms, if you are lucky enough to still have a job or a business?

As I said before, I thank GOD that I don’t have a brick and mortar retail store anymore. I do not believe it would have survived with this much time closed. I must give a huge shout out to the women in downtown Burlington who have been able to stay open and keep people on the payroll. I am very relieved that my current business is operated from my home. Granted, it used to be ninety percent face-to-face and ten percent virtual. Now, I am 100% virtual. I am a sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Last week, I was on a call with a wildly successful and funnier than all get out sales director. In the past, when women would ask her if they could run their businesses online, her answer would be, “Ah… nooooo.” Well, that certainly has changed and how! She is another one who should be patting herself on the back. Three kids, working harder than ever, and they just got a puppy!

I am glad I had dipped my toes into virtual business before the pandemic because the learning curve is not completely daunting to me. If I had to start from ground zero? I would be like most people… shut down, and unable to work. Our brains are not wired to try new stuff constantly. Our brains like to keep us on the straight and narrow. It’s safer. Thank goodness, Mary Kay is not brain surgery. Who cares if I do a lousy video? I just posted one this morning with no makeup on and it’s a bit frightening.

I do think that what we learn during the pandemic will make us more creative and stronger right now, in this mother’s lifetime. When we get to see people face-to-face again, we are not going to lose the skills we acquired during this time. I love that friends, family, and clients are checking in with me, to see if we are ok. Please folks, let’s keep that going.

I just did a Zoom call with my high school friends. We have stayed close all of these years, and we are pretty unique in that we see each other once a year in Lake George. The other day, one of the group suggested a Zoom meeting at 7 PM on Sunday. We live all over. In Vermont, Lake George, NYC, and L.A. When this is over, I don’t want to lose the connections we are renewing via video calls. What a fantastic way to connect, personally, and professionally… this technology makes us a lot more adaptable!

I need to give another huge shout out to all of you moms who are working remotely with children at home.

I mean young children, who want your attention. Does bribery work to allow you to get something done? If no one else is telling you, I am! Give yourself a pat on the back, right now! Do it! You are a COVID-19 rockstar! This pandemic, just like other historic events in this mother’s lifetime, did not come with instructions! You are creating and editing your lives as we speak. You are making history. Your kids will talk about this time for their lifetimes. Their children will say, “Tell me about the time…” We are living through a time when one mother’s lifetime will show our culture changing, pivoting to adjust.

I love that people are ending emails and phone calls with, “Be safe.” It makes me feel like I am getting a hug. Let’s not lose this. It’s part of our repertoire now. I truly believe we will get through this, as wiser, kinder people. What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

Mother living through history in her own lifetimeSo, be safe. Be kind to yourself, give yourself a break, lift another up by checking in, tell your kids how awesome they are, tell a family member how much they mean to you, and do something that feels good. You deserve it. History, in this mother’s lifetime, is to be lived. Happy Mother’s Day, and if you are reading this after May 10th, who cares, remember how important you are!

Living through History in this Mother's Lifetime

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Nan Patrick
Nan grew up in Glens Falls, New York, and attended Boston University. She thought of herself as ”very urban” until she realized she enjoyed being a big fish in a small pond. At the very “mature” age of 23, she moved to Burlington, Vermont to open an eponymous women’s clothing store. That was a 27-year run and a wonderful experience. Her store was a place where women felt like they mattered. During that time, she married her husband, Ken, became a stepmom, became a mom, and started a second business with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Now her kids are grown, and she has a 16-year-old granddaughter… what? How did THAT happen so quickly? She was promoted to a sales director with Mary Kay. Life is good. She figured out how to make money, save money, and enjoy what she earned. She loves to travel, spend time with her friends and family, take ballet and yoga, go on fun walks with my dog, and is an avid skier who loves to ski the bumps!



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