Black Mothering Over 40

My little one will be turning two soon. It just seems like yesterday,  I was holding him in my arms for the first time.

I’m an old mama. I had my son when I was 41.  I never wanted children. I didn’t think motherhood was for me. I liked being on my own. Life happens, though.

It’s been an interesting experience. I tend to liken my parenting skills to an episode on The Simpsons.

Homer realizes he has been a horrible parent. He decides to make it up to Bart and Lisa. Of course, he bumbles his way through, making things worse. Finally, Bart fed up with the shenanigans, tells his dad “Your half ass under-parenting was better than your half ass over-parenting.” Homer replies sadly, “But I’m using my whole ass.” 

Once you decide to become a parent, you will be making a huge sacrifice. This sacrifice is even more jarring when you are older. You have spent the majority of your life doing whatever the hell you wanted to do. Those days are over. I’ve learned to accept these things since becoming a mother.

  1. You will always be tired. A good friend (also an older mom), warned me that I will never sleep again. When you are having your child, you roll your eyes at folks who tell you this. After all, YOU will be different. You will have that kid on a schedule. Ha, ha! The joke’s on me. I haven’t slept well since, uh the kid was born.
  2.  You will constantly be in battle with patience. While pregnant, I reassured myself that it would all work out. I’m older. I would be more patient. I would never be like those moms in the store with bulging eyes and throbbing neck veins, frustrated with their children. That lasted 2.5 seconds. Kids are not an extension of you. They are their own people with their own thoughts emotions, etc. They can and will work your nerves.
  3. You will question why you did it. In our society, mothers are expected to romanticize parenthood. Nope. The truth is, I question all the time if I did the right thing.  When you have a child, it’s not just about cute clothes, Disneyland trips, etc., it’s about raising a well-rounded human being. What’s messed up, despite giving your all, the kid could still grow up to dislike you. I know so many folks who don’t talk to their parents. You never know how it’s going to turn out.

Besides general parenting stuff, becoming a mother has made me realize how racist folks are against Black women. I mean, I knew folks were racist against Black women, but the racism has been magnified. I think because of the stereotypes of Black motherhood that are so pervasive in our society.  Especially, if you are a single Black mama. Black mothers tend to be blamed for everything wrong in/outside the Black community. The Moynihan Report has been used throughout the years to justify the oppression of Black mothers.

The misogynoir of Black women makes folks think they know about the lives of Black mothers, when they really don’t know shit.

Black mothers must contend with being hypervisible/invisible. Hypervisible: You are blamed for all the ills of the world (“if it weren’t for single Black mamas xyz wouldn’t happen”).  Invisible: The complexities of Black mothering is not acknowledged. I remember watching an interview with Alice Walker. She stated Black mamas can have a rainbow of children. We can have a light child, a dark child, a brown child. A child with ultra kinky hair, straight hair, light eyes, dark brown eyes, etc. There is a uniqueness to Black mothering.

The extra layer of protection we must provide for our children, lest they be shot down for playing with a toy gun at the park.  We have to stay vigilant on what our children watch/read, to make sure they don’t get bombarded with white supremacist thought. There is the concern they will loathe who they are, in a society that is very anti-black.

It’s hard being a parent. Even harder being a Black parent. Triple the anxieties as an older Black mother. When you start late in the game, who knows if you will finish it. The good news studies show older moms may live longer.

I want my son to know, I did try to use my whole ass. And I love him very much.

baby with glasses
Happy Birthday little one

Author: Tonya J.

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling!

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