Nicole Ari Parker and Sherri Shepherd Say a Low Key Mother’s Day Is Just Fine

From cooking a billion dinners to homeschooling their kids, celebs share how Mother’s Day is the same yet different this year

Nicole Ari Parker, Sophie Tei Naaki Lee Kodjoe, Boris Kodjoe, and Nicolas Neruda Kodjoe. Photo: Donato Sardella/Getty Images

Mothers — and daughters — are stumped at having to put a new spin on an old day during a pandemic. And while many restaurants are offering fancy brunch takeout and Zoom cocktails might be on deck, celebrity parents like Nicole Ari Parker and Sherri Shepherd are using this Mom’s Day to fight the burnout of their day jobs and refocus on what’s really important: their family and serving others.

Parker is just happy to be at home and to sit down.

“I travel so much for work,” she says. “I was recently shooting Empire in another city, so for me, this has been a godsend. To be together around the breakfast table and dinner table and bedtime have been great. Everything is moving so fast, I want to keep them close as long as I can.”

And the kids enjoy her being at home, too.

“One thing that has surprised me is how the kids wanna be close as well and want to talk to me about everything all the time at all hours of the night,” she says. “I’m grateful they feel they can come to me.”

“Everything is moving so fast, I want to keep them close as long as I can.”

The family decided to help frontline workers who are fighting Covid-19. They are sending free face masks courtesy of Parker’s sports and workout hair accessory company, the GymWrap.

“We asked our manufacturer how quickly we could get them, and he made it happen,” she says. “The demand was high, the customers came through in full force supporting the #HelpOurHeroes initiative, and from there we were able to ship hundreds of free masks all over the country. It’s been incredible to be able to serve in a real way and have my children be a part of it as well. When you go to the site, we have it set up for all front-liners to let us know where they are and what they need.”

As for Mother’s Day? It will be at home, she says. “We wake up and call Boris’ mom in Germany and my mom in Baltimore. Then, Boris and the kids make a ridiculously beautiful breakfast — grits, salmon cakes, biscuits, fruit, German pancakes, fresh whipped cream. Whew! And we sit outside if the sun is out.”

“This Covid-19 season has really given Jeffrey and me a time of bonding… at times I feel like I am losing my mind, but it’s all worth it when he comes up, hugs me, and says, ‘Thank you, Mom. I love you.’”

And while a nice gift could glint or twinkle in that sun, her favorites over the years have been the DIY gifts. “Homemade art or poetry or music — for 15 Mother’s Days, it’s usually just an amazingly perfect day,” she says.

Comedian Sherri Shepherd shares that quarantine time spent with her son, Jeffrey, has also allowed her to slow down and enjoy being his mother.

“As a single mom and the sole financial provider for my family, I spend a great deal of time at work or on the road doing standup comedy,” she says. “This Covid-19 season has really given Jeffrey and me a time of bonding. I am literally his chef, his high school teacher, counselor, barber, toenail clipper-er and his psychologist. So many hats, at times I feel like I am losing my mind, but it’s all worth it when he comes up, hugs me, and says, ‘Thank you, Mom. I love you.’”

And while it is certainly a privilege to be able to work from home or be at home with a child or teen in these times, Shepherd is enjoying every moment.

“I have been able to really talk to Jeffrey and find out how he feels about things,” she says. “We have found things — or I should say… I make him do things with me — that we can do together… walking the dogs… bike riding… gardening and cooking. I am really appreciating the man he is becoming.”

Director, Multicultural @Medium. Focusing on ZORA, Momentum, Level and bolstering creators of color. All ideas welcome. And yes, I’ll still be writing.

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