Local Heroes: Medical workers share what it’s like to be a mother during COVID-19

Mother’s Day this year will be nothing like the ones we have experienced in our lifetime. With most restaurants closed and the community practicing social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, families in Brownsville this year will have to find new ways to celebrate the special day.

Frontline workers, who are also mothers, are risking their lives every day in the medical field to provide our community with the help they need during this difficult time. Throughout the world, healthcare workers are being referred to as our local heroes.

“ Being a mother is the most important job that I have. My children are a huge source of pride for me. I take my responsibility as a mother very seriously, even though there are plenty of times when I tell people that my children have turned out well despite of me, instead of because of me,” Leslie Bingham, chief executive officer at Valley Baptist Medical Center, said, laughing in her neatly-organized office surrounded by photos of her loved ones.

Bingham, a mother of two, said this year will not only be different because whole families will not be able to celebrate together, but also because now more than ever mothers are thinking about their children and children are thinking about their mothers. She said she has learned so much from parents who are in the medical field these days.

“ I’ve learned so much watching mothers and fathers that are health-care workers, hearing what they go through every day. Most of them, when they leave work every day, they either don’t go home to their family members, and stay somewhere separately, or they go through a complete decontamination process every time they go back home,” she said.

Bingham said she is honored when people ask her what it’s like to be both a mother and a leader and how she balances her life. She has been a CEO at a hospital for 30 years, which is also the same amount of time she has been a mother. She said she completely loves her job and being a mother and a CEO at the same time is all she knows.

“ I can remember being a hospital CEO when I was pregnant with my son and there were definitely times that I had to be very careful that I wasn’t compromising my own health or the health of my baby while I continued to work very hard on difficult hospital leadership types of challenges, but for the most part, it’s all I’ve ever known,” she said.

“ The way that I feel as a mother in the middle of the coronavirus crisis probably isn’t near as important as the other people that work here that are parents in the field. In addition to healthcare workers, people that are working in the hospital; the first responders that are mothers also and the sacrifices that they are making, especially during this pandemic; they’ve been huge heroes.”

Amanda Wolfe Gonzalez, a mother of four, a certified registered nurse and a women’s health nurse practitioner, and director of surgical floor at Valley Baptist Medical Center, said she had forgotten it was going to be Mother’s Day soon and that all she wants to do is have a relaxing day with her family staring at the water at South Padre Island.

“ It’s been pretty difficult because hearing what we have to hear here at the hospital and knowing what we do know, and I don’t have young children, so they’re aware and they’re scared and concerned by it definitely,” she said when asked what it’s like to be a mother who works in the medical field.

“ I try to alleviate some of their fears but at the same time make sure that they stay safe, they stay protected and they do not socialize.”

Wolfe Gonzalez said being a mother who works in the medical field has not been an easy thing to do but it has made her the woman she is today. She said she remembers one time when one of her children asked her to just be a normal mom when he would see mothers being involved at the school field trips.

“ I’ve had mother’s guilt for years and I have family and friends who get to stay home with their children and that was difficult for me. I remember at one point my son told me ‘I just want you to be a normal mom’ and I asked him ‘what does that mean?,’ he was probably 5 years old, and he said ‘I want you to drive to the field trips’ and I laughed and said that we could definitely do that. I did not know at that time that just taking one day off would mean the world to him.”

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