Holy Mary Mother of Guilt, pray for us mothers who have forgotten to pack the gym uniform, and for those of us who have left their kid last standing at the soccer pick-up.
Pray for us who have put plastic in the compost bin, and who have let our children’s teeth go un-brushed for three weeks.
Pray especially for those of us who have screamed “SHUT THE FUCK UP I AM TRYING TO MEDITATE” at our children.
We lift our prayers up to you in our hour of need and ask for your forgiveness.
The Church of the Exquisite Guilt of the Modern Mother’s Deity has a judgmental face (probably your mother-in-law’s) crowned with curlers and she does not answer your prayers or forgive your sins. Instead, she sends you to Church.
The Church where the exquisitely guilty modern mothers go to atone is filled with dead flowers in fetid water. Everyone notices, but no one offers to help clean them up. There are stained-glass tableaus of mothers breastfeeding while biking to work, mothers grinding organic corn in stilettos, mothers reading Kafka to their clean and pleasant children. You are not those mothers.
When you enter the Sanctuary, you will be shushed by two nuns who accusingly ask you who is home with your children. You will start to cry.
You will look around and notice that the one male congregant, Randy the stay-at-home Dad, is not present. He’s probably at a cafe reading books about self-awareness while his wife hand darns socks and handles executive phone calls back home. He’s written a column for the church bulletin about how the language of The Church needs to be more inclusive. You will feel guilty for hating Randy.
When the service begins two congregants will ascend to the lectern. They are the lesbian mothers. As you stare into their kind and emotionally available eyes you will commit the sin of coveting your neighbor’s wife and wonder why you didn’t marry another mother. You will sit up straight as they begin to read from “The Passion of The Pandemic Mother: The Seven Stations of the Great Sickness.”
“I. The Arrival of The Great Sickness
The Great Sickness arrived and with it infinite impossible choices that bathed the mothers in the glow of a new and glorious guilt. Every playdate or to-go panini required penance.
II. The Schools Are Closed And All The Children Are Here
The schools closed. The mothers cleaved their children to the iPads and cried in their cars. They felt guilty for the little fossils that had to die to make fuel so that they could drive around and cry, so they cried in their driveways.
III. Who Will Sanitize The Sanitizers?
The mothers lifted their weary eyes to the sky and cried, ‘If we are sanitizing everything to keep us all alive, who will sanitize us?’ No one answered.
IV. The Cunning of the Teenagers
The teenagers were bored and so they guilted the mothers into letting them go to Halloween parties. They went dressed as grim reapers. When they returned the mothers cried out for them to be more careful, ‘You are going to kill us all!’
V. The Bleeding of the Mothers
The mothers all got their periods at the same time. The mothers felt guilty for the original sin of Eve. It was a bad week.
VI. The Arrival of the Cardboard Boxes, The Departure of the Incomes
The mothers had too many cardboard boxes to open and too many fourth-grade dioramas to complete and so they all quit their jobs. The mothers felt grateful that all of the out-of-work men had jobs again. The men went to work and didn’t feel guilty.
VII. The Resurrection and Death of The Pandemic Mother
The mothers fled to their back porches where they binged upon stale candy-corn and Rose’ until they fell down dead from guilt and exhaustion. The kindly, elderly neighborhood women came over to cover the mother’s unshaven legs with a shroud upon the spots where they had fallen. The mothers prayed to remain un-resurrected, or at the very least for a nap. No one noticed where all the mothers were until the children ran out of toilet paper and paninis. The mothers felt guilty for dying and resurrected themselves.
As I can see that most of you have fallen asleep this will conclude our service for this morning.
Guilt be with you.”
And also, with you.