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Dear Mothers,

norie kizaki become a mountain guide
Photo by Eric Sale

Dear Mothers, 

There is finally a light at the end of tunnel.  Whatever you did to keep your family and children safe in the last 12 months, you have done a fantastic job and deserve a gold medal. 

In 2020, women lost significantly more jobs than men.  American women lost 5 million jobs thus far during the pandemic.  Unemployment rates for women of colors are even higher.  Mothers were far more likely to have lost a job in 2020 than fathers.  The loss was even worse for single mothers.  

There is a story behind every man and woman who lost a job or had to pause on his/her career during the pandemic.  But a common story is that women chose to (or had no choice but to) care for their children who had nowhere to go.  And we, mothers, put our families first.  

When the pandemic became everyday news in the U.S. last March, I was in Canada with my family, plus a nanny, preparing for and American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Ski Guide Exam.  Two days prior to the exam, the exam was canceled and candidates raced back into the U.S as the border closed. The airport was jammed with folks fleeing to their home countries. Flights were at max capacity – and mask-less (except for me, because we Japanese were already comfortable wearing masks!).

During lock-down, my training shifted to the crack of early each morning with a headlamp.  I’d return home and then transition into caring for our two-year old son.  As a professional mountain guide, though, morning sessions were not enough to stay fit.  I quickly went from being my fittest since pregnancy to my un-fittest quickly.  After lock down ended, when many folks’ lives somewhat normalized, mothers’ lives remained strained.  Schools were still hiatus or erratic schedules. So, as mothers, we continued to put our families first. 

Employers must rehire women and mothers.  Women are half the population.  And society needs us. American women’s hard-fought professional advancements of the past decades must resume. I moved to the US for the American dream – where women (and women of color) have  opportunities to build careers.  I never fully “grok’d” the mental strength of mothers, until I became a mother.  Our strength creates positive impacts in our companies, communities, and society, whether through mountain guiding, service work, retail, or corporate offices.  Together, we make a difference.

After the tumult of 2020-2021, I still believe in this American dream.  So, my fellow mothers, hang in there! The summit is finally coming into view!

Norie Kizaki guides year-round for the Colorado Mountain School.  In March 2021, 12 months after her 2020 ski guide exam cancelation due to the pandemic, she passed the AMGA Ski Guide Exam. She lives with her supportive husband and three-year old son in Boulder, CO. She looks forward to getting vaccinated, sleeping in, and sport climbing on the beach. 


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