It is unbelievable to think we are about to complete eight weeks with stay-at-home guidelines in effect, and quite honestly I’m just happy to say my son and I are healthy and safe. We have (1) a safe place to shelter, (2) food and (3) basic necessities (including toilet paper and paper towels for at least a few more weeks). And thankfully, since neither one of us has any symptoms, we will be able to go outside and enjoy a walk outdoors later today.

Last week, we got tested for the antibodies, and for better or worse the results came back double negative: not exposed, and zero antibodies. To be honest, I was a bit shocked, thinking we had already been exposed and had the antibodies. Those results, however, have definitely made me reconsider things– including springing for a UV phone & key sterilizer, which has now become part of our daily routine.

Mother’s Day as a single mom the past 15 years has always been a bit unpredictable. Some years, my ex would come through and help our son find an appropriate gift to commemorate the day. Other years, they would both flake out, with minimal acknowledgement of the day, so I learned a long time ago to just make the day special for myself.

But this year, all my normal treats are not readily available– no mani/pedi, massage, haircut, brunch with friends, yoga class at the gym, outing to the movies, a museum or a show. And yet now, that all seems so unnecessary particularly when there are over 80,000 deaths in the U.S. attributable to this coronavirus, with many more expected in the coming weeks.

There’s really nothing like a pandemic to force you to put things into perspective. The world as we know it has come to a stop, and without the millions of distractions we would normally have to contend with, there is a golden opportunity to reflect,  look backwards and connect all the dots.  Look at the series of events that led you to where you find yourself today, appreciate your current condition, and then create a vision for your future. What matters to you most moving forward, once we are past this horrible state that we are currently all in together?

Becoming a mother changed me completely–I could no longer just think about my own goals and desires. I had to rethink all my priorities and make time to ensure that my child was cared for and nurtured. I’ve tried my best to teach him about life and the skills needed not just to survive, but thrive. In the process, he has taught me about unconditional love and the need for patience and understanding (particularly key since we are totally opposite personalities). He is not at all a mini version of me, but through our interactions I have truly come to appreciate the differences in all of us.

During this crisis, it is his calm that then allows me to not become a basket case. As an introvert, who is happy to just stay home, he was meant to survive our current situation, and I can now truly appreciate how his natural tendencies can be a strength. Moreover, I am forced to accept that being an extrovert like me, who requires a ton of outside stimulation has a very negative downside.

My son has spent the past decade challenging all my beliefs, questioning all my life choices and debating all my priorities.  To be honest, sometimes I have ended the day feeling depleted as if I had been playing a real-life version of Mortal Kombat with him.  But in the process, he has helped clarify what is most important to me and made me a far better person that I ever could have imagined prior to entering motherhood.

The only regret I have is not being able to model for him what a long-term healthy adult relationship would look like with a romantic partner, but I definitely have taught him that all adult relationships are based on conditions, which should be clearly expressed.  He knows that unconditional love only applies within the context of family ties, and sadly that in itself is a lesson that many adults seem to have missed.

So today, I start this Mother’s Day for the first time ever with zero expectations– except that we will share a simple meal together, probably full of provocative statements.  And this is totally fine, bring on the Mortal Kombat because I at least get to spend the day with the love of my life, my son, and he is the best gift of all.

Hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

By Regina A. DeMeo