Families celebrate Mother’s Day, as pandemic still presents challenges

Families look to outdoors as CDC reminds residents to remain cautious

With COVID-19 guidelines still in place across Illinois, extended family gatherings still are a challenge in public places for Mother’s Day.

Some restaurants are enforcing capacity limits on dining groups.

The state has set the party size limit at 10 — but it can be increased to more than 10 if individuals can prove they have had a vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

That said, vaccinations have changed the feel of this year’s Mother’s Day weekend, allowing family members to meet with each other with less risk.

According to the most updated CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals can:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, unless they are in crowded settings.

The CDC said someone is only fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two weeks after one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

With indoor restrictions still in practice most places, families have turned to the outdoors.

Brian and Cindy Zeilmann of rural Ottawa decided to hit the road for the holiday. Camping wasn’t exactly a Mother’s Day tradition when they were raising their two children, both grown, but since their retirements two years ago they have the flexibility to hit the great outdoors whenever it suits them. And the still-lurking coronavirus further tempted them to pitch a tent under a starry sky.

“Pandemic-wise, we have not been getting out anywhere else — we haven’t been frequenting taverns — so this is how we get away,” Brian said.

And a word to any would-be burglars: There’s a sitter at the house watching their dogs — so don’t even try it.

Planning a first Mother’s Day

Kelsey Villalobos of Plano said her baby girl, Aria, just turned 1 year old April 27. Although her first Mother’s Day was technically in 2020, she said motherhood feels a little more real now.

“It was so new back then,” Villalobos said. “And I was a mom for like a week.”

Villalobos said only her husband was allowed in the birthing room and she could not have outside visitors. For a while, she said, her mom was the only one who met Aria in person, although she got creative and had people visit the baby with a glass door separating the two of them.

Villalobos said it’s only recently that the family of three started slowly going to stores and restaurants.

“But for the first 10 months of her life, she really didn’t go anywhere,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said people who told her parenting was hard were absolutely right.

“But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said she and her husband are vaccinated, but her daughter is not. She said that’s why she’s remaining cautious about who comes in contact with her, and that’s part of the reason why she elected to have a drive-by first birthday party for Aria this year.

“Some of our family members still haven’t held her,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said that’s why she didn’t want to put her daughter in day care yet, and that’s why her mom has been watching her daughter while she’s at work.

“I’m already probably overprotective as is,” Villalobos said with a laugh. “But with everything, I just didn’t want to put her in day care with that risk.”

Eventually Villalobos wants Aria to be more socialized. However, it’s important to her that her daughter remains healthy and maintains a distance from people who might not be as careful when they venture out into public.

“My daughter comes first, making sure she’s OK at all time and that she’s healthy,” Villalobos said. “That’s No. 1 to me.”

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon covers local government and breaking news for DeKalb County in Illinois. She has covered local government news for Shaw Media since 2018 and has had bylines in Daily Chronicle, Kendall County Record newspapers, Northwest Herald and in public radio over the years.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.