Happy Mother’s Day to these moms on the front lines of the pandemic

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-05-08 14:47

Kids reflect on the sacrifices their moms are making

Ever stop and think about how many moms are working on the front lines during the coronavirus outbreak?

Many of the women working as doctors, nurses, cleaners, grocery store clerks and mail carriers have another really important job — taking care of their kids.

And they're working right through the pandemic, even if that means putting themselves at risk of catching COVID-19.

For many, the whole situation is putting a slightly different spin on Mother’s Day this year.

We asked kids in three Canadian families to talk about the essential work their moms are doing.

Here are some of the words that surfaced again and again in those conversations: proud, grateful, kind, compassionate, caring, loving, brave and awesome.

Risking her life every day

Sally Mackinnon in RCMP uniform surrounded by her three kids.

Asked to describe their mom in one word, Briar, Drew and Bret said ‘amazing,’ ‘brave’ and ‘loving,’ in that order. That’s a lot of points in the nightly family Scrabble game! (Submitted by Sally Mackinnon)

When she isn’t working for the RCMP in Yellowknife, Cpl. Sally Mackinnon is looking after her three kids on her own.

"She risks her life every day just to keep everyone else safe,” said her 14-year-old son, Drew.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

But somebody has to be brave enough “to deal with the bad guys,” said younger brother Bret, 11, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Nightly Scrabble games

Three Mackinnon kids lie with their heads together on a frozen lake.

The Mackinnon kids say their mom’s been taking them for a lot of hikes during the coronavirus outbreak as a way to keep them busy. (Submitted by Sally Mackinnon)

And when she’s off the job, Mackinnon manages to keep things fun, said eldest daughter Briar, 16.

“You can always crack jokes with her,” she said.

As for Mackinnon, she said the coronavirus outbreak has helped her appreciate “what’s really important,” including the family’s nightly Scrabble games.

Worried about getting sick

Bailey Balharry and her mom Anja, left, make a point of talking on the phone every day during her mom’s lunch break. (Submitted by Bailey Balharry)

Anja Balharry has been helping her fellow front-line workers throughout the pandemic by looking after their kids at the Discovery Children’s Centre in Winnipeg.

She said she feels strongly that it’s important to do her part, but admits it’s been a stressful time.

“You tend to worry a little bit and wonder: Could this be the day that a case [of COVID-19] comes in?”

Long hours means she doesn’t get to spend as much time as she’d like with her 15-year-old daughter, Bailey Balharry.

That’s “been hard,” the Grade 10 student said.

‘I’m just very proud of her’

While it’s tough that some parents aren’t able to work right now, Bailey said she hopes those families are appreciating the time they can spend together. (Submitted by Bailey Balharry)

As a family of two, Bailey said, she and her mom “have such a close relationship.”

It’s tough knowing that her mom could be exposed to the coronavirus at work, she said.

Despite all that, Bailey said she’s “very proud” of her mom for stepping up to help.

‘We gave her hugs’

Aynslie Wall said she and her husband, Walmart store manager Trent Wall, were lucky to find child care for Rayce, left, and Liam, right, since both parents have had to work right through the outbreak. (Submitted by Aynslie Wall)

As an associate scientist at a Winnipeg biopharmaceutical company that makes medicines, Aynslie Wall has been working right through the pandemic.

She was able to find child care for her kids, ages seven and four, but juggling everything in this strange time has been tough.

Wall said at one point she felt so overwhelmed she started to cry.

That’s when seven-year-old Liam stepped in. “I came and I got my baby brother and we gave her hugs,” he said.

Still finding time to help with homework

Liam said his mom deserves a really nice Mother’s Day card this year ‘because when she helps me with my problems it makes me happy again.’ (Submitted by Aynslie Wall)

“I have the best kids in the world,” Wall said. They’ve been “so good through all of this.”

She said they helped her realize something important.

“I’m not a superhuman. I can’t do it all. It’s time to cut myself some slack.”

Even given all that pressure, Liam said his mom still manages to find the time to help him with his math homework.

Maybe that’s why this Mother’s Day he’s planning to surprise her with a very special rock.

“I painted a smiley face on it and then I wrapped it and then I made a card and then I taped it on,” Liam said.

Something to treasure when all of this is over.


Top photo: (Philip Street/CBC)

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