5 ways to celebrate your mother – from at least two metres away

May 06, 2020
With Mother’s Day approaching, I’ve seen quite a few ads for flowers in my Inbox. I have to say, I don’t mind it!

It’s been a demanding time and I quite like the idea of being honoured. As a mom, parenting through a global pandemic has stretched me in a variety of ways. I’m not much of a spa gal and would typically rather cook than eat in a crowded restaurant. But this Mother’s Day, I’d gladly take the works. 

Except with COVID-19, restaurants are closed for anything but take-out. The only spas available are our own bathrooms. It’s hard to imagine either of my teenage boys baking a cake that’s edible, even if we could find flour in the store these days. 

As the day gets closer, I’m struggling to figure out how to celebrate my own amazing mom. No one deserves to be honoured more than she does. 

The pain of staying apart 

When my brother and I were little, Mom never let the threat of sickness get in the way of being close to us. Even if catching that illness would make her very sick, too. Her arms were around us, hugging and consoling. She never once said “please stay back… you might be contagious”. 

But COVID-19 is different. And, for most of us, this Mother’s Day will need to be different, too. 

My mother is now 75 and in a demographic that’s highly vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. I wake up at night in cold sweats, thinking about her disappearing into a hospital and me being prevented from visiting because of the coronavirus. The last thing I would want to do is jeopardize her health – for her own sake and for all of us who adore her. 

I absolutely must keep my distance. Yet my mom lives alone, with a border collie named Robbie Burns, in a remote country house. Mom loves living there… she wouldn’t trade it for the world. But although Robbie is great canine company, nothing beats the presence of a human you love.

Two Canadian women walking down a country road.I’ve visited my mother many times during the COVID-19 pandemic – but always from outside a window or from a safe distance. Photo: Debbie Wolfe 

So, throughout the pandemic, I’ve been driving to see my mother on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons. I park in the empty lot of the church next to her house, or we meet near a wood or abandoned country road. I walk in the ditch and she trudges in the gravel. We shout back and forth about birds, sheep and budding trees, the latest news and my brother who’s quarantined in Singapore. 

And we do it from at least two metres apart. 

When it rains, I park my car a few metres away from hers, and we chat through the windows. We always bring our own thermoses of tea and our own cookie. Before saying goodbye, we give virtual hugs, wrapping our arms around our own bodies and squeezing tight.  

What to do about Mother’s Day? 

This Mother’s Day, I’d love to do something special for my mom. Yet, the flower people don’t deliver so far out in the country. I can’t take her to a play or symphony concert. I can’t cook her a meal. I can’t help her hang the picture she’s been needing a hand with. I can’t even give my mom a real hug. 

Anything I do for Mom will need to be virtual. 

Many Canadians are in the same boat. It’s not just about the limited shopping options. Thousands of Canadians have moms who are plane or train-rides away, or inside long-term care facilities. Some people have moms they can see with their eyes, but who still need that protective distance.

Here are five safe, virtual Mother’s Day ideas:

  1. Write your mother that email you’ve always meant to send. Perhaps share a few treasured memories. Tell her how she inspired you, how she helped you become the person you are. 
  2. Make an online photo gallery of moments you’ve shared together. Services like Flickr, 500px and Google Photos do have fees, but far less than you’d spend on flower delivery. 
  3. Enjoy a play or concert together, each from your own home. Organizations like The Stratford Festival and The Vancouver Symphony are offering free or ticketed online performances. Visit this CBC site to see a full list of streamed events coming up.   
  4. Enjoy tea or lunch together over the phone or on Facetime. Hearing your voice and sharing some laughs and memories may be all she needs. 
  5. Make a donation to the World Vision Gift Catalogue in your mother’s name – and help other mothers in developing countries at the same time. Consider virtual gifts like Mom and Baby Care or helping Stock a Medical Clinic. Your mother will receive an email, describing the impact she’s having in the world.
A Bangladeshi woman cuddles a baby close to her face. They are both smiling and laughing.
This happy mother with her healthy child regularly participate in nutrition workshops in Tildanga village in southwest Bangladesh. Photo: Jon Warren

There’s one thing many of us have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic: nothing is more important than people. Whether it’s the loved ones in our lives – like our mothers – or the vulnerable people around the world, we all need to care for one another. 

Flowers wilt, chocolates get eaten and Mother’s Day brunch is over in a couple of hours. But a donation to the Gift Catalogue tells your mom that another family will be healthier and more hopeful because of her. During this strange time, it’s exactly the kind of joy and reassurance so many of the world’s mothers need.

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