The entire world has been in a pandemic for over a year. People from all walks of life have been affected differently by the pandemic, from social distancing to isolation, to financial loss and hardship, to the closing of businesses, to death of loved ones.
The Atlanta Voice profiled six metro Atlanta mothers who shared their stories of parenting, self-care, and getting through the pandemic with their families.
Ronna Charles, mother of two, is the Director of Marketing and Communications-NW Region, Cancer Care and Imaging for WellStar Health System. Charles has had her work cut out for her over the past year with a demanding job and with raising a family.
She has been working from home exclusively most of the pandemic. During this time, her children Spencer, 15 and Nadia, 7, went from in-school learning to virtual learning. It was a big adjustment for her family.
“My son is missing out of the social aspects of school and is distracted, sitting looking at a computer at home,” Charles said. “He just went back to face-to-face learning in March. Now he can be more active. My first grader is not a sit still kind of child.” Charles, who describes her daughter as “active,” added, “It has been challenging.”
During the pandemic the family has not traveled or visited other family members as much as they normally would. She says the highlight about staying home more is that her daughter gets to connect with other children in their neighborhood.
Now they have new neighborhood friends. Every day Charles meets with the other kids’ parents, so the kids go outside and play together until 6:30 pm.
During the middle of the pandemic, Charles also started having what she calls “COVID adventures” with her children. They go to state parks, trails, and waterfalls around metro Atlanta to get out the house.
“I’ve started a new workout program during the pandemic and I’m in the best shape of my life,” says Charles. “I’ve incorporated yoga in my fitness and meditation and I even took a step back from social media because it was not contributing to my mental health.”
Charles even found time to take a much-needed vacation. “I went to Aruba for spring break [no kids],” Charles said.
“We got a dog during this time and throughout this process I know my kids better,” she said. “We are having conversations and we’re doing things together.”
Latoya Morgan, wife and mother, is the Senior Human Resources Generalist for Oasis, a Paychex Company.
The pandemic has been stressful for Morgan who is working full time and is a part-time student.
At the same time, she says the pandemic has been a blessing because it has allowed her to spend a lot of her time with her daughter Serenity, 2. Morgan has always had the option to work from home.
“It wasn’t a big deal at first, but now I’m used to going to see clients. Working from home is a lot more limiting and more stressful,” Morgan said. “I stopped getting my nails done and stopped doing non-profit work. The needs of home, like cooking and cleaning, took over.”
To relax at home while working, Morgan uses a foot elliptical, a back massager, soft music, and an oil scents diffuser at her desk.
She also takes time to get away by playing tennis, going to the gym, and taking solo trips to a hotel and getting a massage or facial.
When it comes to teaching Serenity at home, it has come with challenges because of her busy work schedule. Morgan and her husband practice things like letters, numbers, and manners with their daughter on a regular basis.
“I think having a strong foundation in Christ makes you more focused throughout this process,” said Morgan. “I never went to that place of freaking out. For me it was about the safety, health, and the well-being of me and my family.”
“I have a two-year-old and I don’t want her to know the world is disruptive. We make the most out of being at home. Our house is a playground for Serenity. I don’t have anything that I can’t be without. My life is stress free in that regard.”
Andrea Hamilton and Erica Hamilton are sisters and the Co-Owners of Theory Communications, an entertainment PR agency.
Andrea has a six-year-old daughter and Erica has a five-week-old daughter. Each sister is at a different stage of motherhood in her life, but both women have proven to be headstrong throughout the pandemic.
“I became more focused during the pandemic and my priorities are clearer,” Andrea said. “I understand the importance of being home spending more time with my daughter. We live in a fast-paced world. You can easily get caught up in it. Since the pandemic, I have a new perspective and I’m more creative.”
Andrea shared that she had cabin fever at first during the pandemic and it took a lot of getting used to, as she is usually traveling for work and never really home. Now she has found peace and solace. She also has a greater appreciation for teachers now that she has been helping her daughter with school at home.
“Teachers do not get enough respect, money, or praise for what they do day to day for children. Small children keep your attention. It’s hard to explain to my daughter why she can’t see her friends. Young kids you have to monitor all the time,” Andrea said.
She continued, “I map out my day every day to balance schooling for my daughter and for my business. I find positives in the whole situation. I’m still able to make money during the pandemic.”
Andrea found a way to shift her business to the digital space and she says that the pandemic has made her a stronger mother and businesswoman. Erica Hamilton found out last summer that she was pregnant.
“Being pregnant during the pandemic was the most life-changing experience for me. It was already tough not being able to see family and friends, or have social outings, or go to the office,” Erica Hamilton said. “I had a lot of questions about the pandemic and isolation, would I be a good mother. I listened to the voice inside and faced my fears and received grace.
“Since the pandemic began, I see areas that I needed to work on. Now, I’m learning to be kind to the woman I am now and to the woman I am becoming.”
Erica Hamilton said the challenge of being pregnant during the pandemic is that she had to do a lot of things alone, which she would normally do with her partner, friends, or family.
For example, she said she went to her doctor visits alone. She has also had a therapist throughout her entire pregnancy to work through depression and anxiety.
Luckily, she did not contract COVID during her pregnancy and she said the pandemic gave her time to slow down her busy life. She is fortunate to stay at home and be with her baby daughter.
“I’m an entertainment publicist who is usually working for others in a fast-paced environment. You can easily overlook yourself helping others. The pandemic helped me realize what was important and what was not important,” Erica Hamilton said.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt like I was losing myself and felt that I was not able to handle what was being thrown at all of us. I turned negatives into positives. God is trying to tell us that we need to be more intentional about what we do with our lives.”
Bessie Akuba is a mother of two (a six and 11-year-old). She works for a federal agency and has her own company Bessie Akuba Creative.
Her family was living in Germany when the pandemic began a year ago. She has had to restructure her approach to time management now that she is with her children 24 hours a day.
“I work around my kids’ needs, especially my son during the pandemic. His communications skills developed over the past year being home versus being around other children,” Akuba said.
“I got a grasp on my daughter’s learning style during the pandemic. Virtual learning is not for her. In person learning is better for her because she loves engagement.”
Akuba says there is not much that she has had to do without during the pandemic, but she does miss traveling and going to concerts.
Meditating, reading alone, listening to music, and having quiet and down time has been helpful for her during the pandemic and has helped her to go inward to listen to what God is telling her.
She says her children have adjusted to the pandemic and she is comforted because they are used to dealing with change. What has been difficult is her children not seeing their friends.
“What has kept me grounded and faithful and hopeful is meditating. My children adapt well to challenging situations. They are pretty resilient children,” Akuba said.
“Working from home was a huge challenge. The leaders at my job didn’t understand specifically what mothers were going through.” She continued, “The blessing now is the flexibility of working at home during a global pandemic. I can focus on my children and I even started my own business.”
Ashanti Sims, wife and mother of four children, is a science teacher with Cobb County Schools and a pastor’s wife. Her children’s ages range from one year to 16 years old. She said everything slowed down in her life when the pandemic began. She had just had her youngest child, a son. She has a very busy home with three children in sports. They had to refocus. Children were all doing virtual learning during the pandemic, but it wasn’t too much of an adjustment because Sims is a teacher.
“My children transitioned pretty well because of my teaching experience,” Sims said. “My family is on a set schedule. We broke our own rules because the virtual learning on devices was too long.
We made the children go outside and play for an hour. We called our service provider to accommodate the number of devices on our network and if we had technical issues, the teachers worked with my family.”
Sims said since the pandemic began, she is around her children more than usual and with the fact that she had just had a baby, she had to rediscover herself: her goals, accomplishments, what she enjoys doing, self-discovery.
“I had postpartum depression due to my fourth pregnancy. Revamping my relationship with Christ, journaling daily, seeking God more, reading daily affirmations really helped me,” Sims said.
“I’m listening to Christian podcasts and podcasts about marriage for women, following positive social media, decreasing negative social media, listening to entrepreneurs, where the end result is where I’d like to be, literally praying without ceasing in alignment with God’s will.”
Sims also shares that she is rediscovering her children during the pandemic, asking them certain questions and engaging in more dialogue and more in-depth conversations with her children, and reading more during the pandemic making sure she is speaking the same love language to her children, especially her high schooler.
“With the hustle and bustle of life, I appreciate the slowing down and being around my family,” said Sims. “My children are handling covid as best as they can. We are keeping things as normal as possible.”