Mother's Day and Mental Health Awareness: A tribute to pandemic moms

Key takeaways:

  • There’s a thin line separating us from positive and negative emotions.

  • Tips for celebrating Mother’s Day and acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month.

  • A new Providence wellness collaboration helps moms and kids.


The late humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

For many mothers, that thin line became a blur when COVID-19 slammed into their lives like a runaway freight train.







That’s a full spectrum of emotions and reactions. And you’ve probably experienced each one — often — as a mom living through the pandemic. With that in mind, this May we applaud mothers and acknowledge Mental Health Awareness Month. Especially now, it seems to be a fitting pair of events.

Celebrate Mother’s Day by celebrating yourself

Here’s a twist: Don’t wait for breakfast in bed or the flower bouquet on the kitchen table. Of course, it’s wonderful if your family makes a big deal of celebrating Mother’s Day (as well they should!). But no matter what, you can celebrate yourself. After all, when the day is over, you’ll still be a mom. You’ll still be the advice-giving, meal-making, homework-helping and a thousand-other-things person you’ve been even during the roughest days of the pandemic. You deserve to give yourself these gifts from the positive side of that thin line: Laughter, humor and comedy.

  • Start with the obvious: your kids. Think of some of the funniest things they’ve said over the last year. (They really do say the darndest things!) Focus on everything from their facial expressions to comments they’ve made about school, meals or any of their other life experiences. Even during this challenging time they’ve probably come up with some doozies. Watch them go about their day and as you do it, enjoy the fleeting or frequent displays of humor that will make you laugh out loud.
  • Check your pets (or someone else’s). Animals aren’t just amusing. They’re downright funny. Engage your pet in random acts of silliness and you’ll find yourself smiling through the day. If you’re pet-less, jump online and choose from thousands of videos featuring the animal kingdom in all its hilarious glory.
  • Binge on comedy. Netflix: It’s the gift of humor that keeps on giving. Find shows that feature standup comedians who serve up your kind of wit or absurdity. Then settle in for an hour or two (or three) of laughs. You’ll feel energized and refreshed — and may even be able to see the humor in the everyday in ways you haven’t before.

Seek mental health

While laughter is certainly medicine to the soul, there’s no denying the pandemic has taken a toll. Organizers of Mental Health Awareness Month haven’t lost sight of that. Which is why the message this year is “You Are Not Alone.” It’s all about connecting in safe ways through personal stories and videos and by simply acknowledging to each other that it’s okay not to be okay. When you’re walking on the difficult side of Erma Bombeck’s thin line, there are things you can do this month and for the rest of the year that can help you in your role as mom.

Pain, tragedy and hurt

  • Be kind to yourself if you’re grieving. Because of the pandemic, tragedy has overshadowed many lives. The grief caused by loss and hearing about others’ hard experiences can’t be addressed just by watching a funny show. If you’re grieving, you may be feeling helpless or hopeless, angry, sad or confused. You may guiltily feel like you’re neglecting your kids or find it hard to focus on their needs. It may help you cope to:
    • Lean on others for comfort.
    • Follow a routine to help you have a sense of order and purpose.
    • Try to exercise by going for walks or doing yoga.
    • Maintain a healthy diet.
    • Honor your loved one by making a photo album of memories.
    • Get professional help if your grief becomes hard to manage or feels overwhelming.
  • Find resilience in the pain. You may not have lost a loved one, but you might still be feeling the pain of separation from loved ones — perhaps loving grandparents to help with your kids. Or you feel the pain of lost routines or seeing your children struggle with the disruption to their lives. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) you can build resilience to help find peace in the pain.
  • Practice radical acceptance. Because we can’t control the pandemic it’s vital to accept the current situation. That kind of coping with uncertainty is a form of resilience.
  • Be a realistic optimist. Focus on what you can do to help lessen the negative impact of the situation. To you, that may mean getting a vaccination or making sure to wear a mask whenever you’re around other people who aren’t vaccinated.
  • Be mindful. When you’re hurting, make mindfulness a priority. Seek out an activity you enjoy and try to focus on what you’re doing and where you are in that moment. Be aware of how an activity makes you feel more hopeful, joyous or less stressed. You don’t have to do something elaborate — just fixing a meal or washing the dog can help you enjoy the process of being present.

Providence wellness collaboration puts moms and kids first

Providence Southern California has brought together the Women & Children’s Institute and the Mental Health Institute. Inspiring healthier mothers and improving mental health are at the forefront of this collaboration between the two institutes. 

The Women & Children’s Institute is a network of women and children’s providers who work together to develop practice guidelines. They make sure moms like you receive consistent high-quality care that’s collaborative — no matter which hospital in the Providence family you visit. When it comes to your health and your child’s health, experience matters. Our leading women’s health and pediatric providers draw from years of experience to make sure you and your child remain safe and well cared for every step of the way.

The Mental Health Institute is a network of highly trained mental health professionals who provide a full continuum of treatments to the Southern California market. Blended with our community partners, the Mental Health Institute produces high-level outcomes for its patients.

What are your plans for Mother’s Day? Do you also plan to take part in Mental Health Awareness Month? Share your thoughts @providence.


Find a doctor

Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor to help you stay healthy or a counselor to help you cope with mental health struggles, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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