Britnee Kellogg knew it was somewhat inevitable.
After a year and a half of dodging an onslaught of pandemic germs, the American Idol standout and mother of three found out she had tested positive for COVID-19. And a few short days later, she realized that her sons — 13-year-old Caiden and 12-year-old Hudson — had it too. And while she had always found a way to power through each and every challenge that motherhood threw her way through the years, it was this challenge that had her feeling downright helpless.
"First there was the stress of quitting my tour early and letting people down as far as shows go," Kellogg, 37, tells PEOPLE in a recent interview. "And then financially, it was pretty devastating. But nothing was as bad as not being able to see my kids. I went from being on the road to going straight into my travel trailer to quarantine. To have to see my 3-year-old daughter Harlow through a window was absolutely awful."
Nevertheless, the singer/songwriter did it, because as a mom, that's just what you do.
"I had to take care of my littles," she says quietly.
Liza Hartz Britnee Kellogg
It's this premise that runs through the soul of Kellogg's new song "Hey Mama," a song she happened to write mere months before she and her family were taken down by the virus.
"The whole thing is that moms need to be reminded that it's hard right now, but you can do this and you're strong and you're capable and you are amazing," says Kellogg of the song she wrote alongside Grammy-nominated songwriter Michael Farren. "I think moms are superheroes."
The foundation of the song also comes from the fact that Kellogg did go through a time of postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter.
"I just remember feeling like I shouldn't be so sad," Kellogg remembers. "Here I was with this beautiful life and this beautiful little girl and this wonderful family. I was so blessed and so lucky, but I was just so sad. I have been wanting to write a song like 'Hey Mama' for a long time."
Indeed, the lyrical backbone of "Hey Mama" has already made quite an impression on listeners, who have certainly seemed to appreciate the much-needed reminder that everything is going to be ok. In fact, it was this reminder that caused the song to go viral on TikTok upon its release.
"For a mom, sometimes it's all about just getting through the day," Kellogg says with a laugh. "But our kids look up to us so much and they truly think that we're incredible. We could be having the worst day of our lives, and there are our kids thinking that we are the best mom ever."
Liza Hartz Harlow and Britnee Kellogg
Making the song even that much more special is the fact that Kellogg's own daughter Harlow sings delicately on the track.
"Having her sing on the song pushed the idea of the kid's perspective through," explains Kellogg, who sings the last chorus alongside her daughter. "It's not just about us being reminded that we got this, but it's also the reminder that our kids are the ones that think we are true superheroes."
But as an artist who has always led with her truth, Kellogg is the first to admit that some days, it can be difficult to keep things in perspective.
"Sometimes it feels like our world is falling apart these days," says Kellogg, whose previously released song "Back of My Mind" told the story of her triumph over abuse. "It's terrifying bringing babies into the world, not knowing what it's going to be like 20 years from now. And I think that's a huge weight on a mom. Then there is the day-to-day worrying about our kids getting sick and heck, just going to school is scary with school shootings and such."
It's gotten so bad for Kellogg that she has stopped watching the news.
"I try to stay up to date on things that are important, but if I see something negative, I try not to watch it," she says with a sigh. "I'm a runner. I love and need time for myself to just be away and have that time to think and to listen to music and just process everything. I have the coolest job on earth — but it's still work."