NEW YORK – Treats made and delivered by neighbors. Fresh garden plantings dug from a safe 6 feet away. Trips around the world set up room-to-room at home.
Mother's Day this year is a mix of love and extra imagination as families do without their usual brunches and huggy meet-ups.
As the pandemic persists in keeping families indoors or a safe social distance apart, online searches have increased for creative ways to still make moms feel special.
Absent help from schools and babysitters, uninitiated dads are on homemade craft duty with the kids. Other loved ones are navigating around no-visitor rules at hospitals and senior-living facilities.
Some medical facilities are pitching in by collecting voice and video recordings from locked-out relatives when patients are unable to manage the technology on their own.
In suburban St. Louis, Steve Turner and his family hope to FaceTime with his 96-year-old mother, Beverly, but they plan something more, too. Her birthday coincides with Mother's Day this year.
“We're going to create a big Mother's Day-birthday banner signed by the kids and grandkids who live here,” Turner said. “She loves butterflies and we'll draw some on. We're working with the home to find a place where we can stand outside a window so she can see us.”
Anna Francese Gass in New Canaan, Connecticut, is hunkered down with her husband and three children and will enjoy her usual Mother's Day breakfast in bed of rubbery eggs, slightly burnt toast and VERY milky coffee. But the day won't include her own mom, who lives nearby.
“I ordered a bunch of daffodil and tulip bulbs online, and me and the kids are planning to plant them in her flowerbed. She can supervise from the window. I just know it will put a huge smile on her face,” Francese Gass said.
In Alameda, California, 23-year-old Zaria Zinn is sheltering at home with her parents and younger sister. Knowing how much their mother loves and misses traveling, they're turning their house and neighborhood into a trip around the world with help from decorations and virtual tours online.
“We made a DIY passport for her and we're creating stamps for each location,” she said.
Their itinerary: Machu Picchu, Paris and Iceland, with some DIY spa time and a Hollywood-style movie night.
Making the most of Mother's Day in isolation is top of mind for Google search users. The company said the term “Mother's Day gifts during quarantine” recently spiked by 600% in the U.S. Among Pinterest's 335 million users, searches for “Mother's Day at home” have jumped by 2,971%, the company said.
In Rochester, New York, Melissa Mueller-Douglas and her 7-year-old daughter, Nurah, had planned to get together with mom and daughter friends at a hotel for a Mother's Day sleepover. When it was canceled because of the pandemic, they got busy on Pinterest searching for ideas to bring the party home, just the two of them.
They have eye masks with rhinestones to decorate, thread for mother-daughter bracelets, instant film for a photo shoot and a chocolate fountain purchased at Walmart. Dad and Nurah's 3-year-old brother will paint together downstairs after a mom-son bike ride earlier in the day.
“We've repurposed a shimmery tablecloth and made giant flowers out of tissue paper for a photo shoot backdrop. We'll be creating a secret handshake and writing in top secret journals to each other,” Mueller-Douglas said. “We're calling it The Best Day Ever Slumber Party.”
Kayla Hockman, 26, in Los Angeles has been worried about her 77-year-old grandmother in Fontana, California, about 50 miles away. Usually, she and her sister treat her and their mom to brunch or an adventure out.
“My grandma's been quite depressed lately since she hasn't left her house in two months, and she's slowly losing hope,” Hockman said. “She and my grandpa have a lot of problems with walking now. This whole thing of not being able to see anyone has been really taking a hard toll on them."
To cheer her up, they're planning a party on her lawn.
“It's going to be a surprise pop-up Mother's Day brunch with `momosas' and painting,” Hockman said. “We’re going to set it up for all of us to paint a sunflower, her absolute favorite. She'll paint on her porch and we'll be on the lawn, all 6 feet apart.”
Willie Greer in Memphis thought food, enlisting the help of a neighbor to make his mom's recipe for pecan pie and deliver it to her in Dallas to brighten her isolation Mother's Day. He said the neighbor was happy to do it after he sent her the recipe.
“My siblings and I will also create a `thank you' video for mom. Since we can’t all be together, each of us will record a short message and at the end we'll all sing `A Mother's Love' by Gena Hill," he said. “I’m pretty sure this is the part where my mom cries her eyes out.”
These days, virtual experiences are all we have, so Lisa Hill in Portland, Oregon, decided to embrace that notion for her 79-year-old mom in Stuart, Florida, after she met a cooking instructor while volunteering to prepare meals at a shelter.
Hill has been cooking alongside Lauren Chandler, who has taken her usual in-home cooking sessions online with a twist: She's throwing in a free 45-minute session for clients to donate.
“I feel so far away from her. I can't cook for her. I can't visit," Hill said. "She's nervous about everything going on right now and it will be a good social interaction.”