Our society has strange views when it comes to mothers. On one hand we exalt mothers, heap praise upon them (Mother’s Day), yet don’t provide concrete support for them such as universal childcare. As a matter of fact, majority of mothers are treated poorly on a daily basis, especially Black mothers. I often see mothers struggling with kids/strollers/bags/toys etc., while people push past them in a hurry. Usually, it’s mothers who will help other mothers by offering a hand or comforting an upset child.
I’ll never forget flying back to Portland with my 1 1/2 year old. He started hollering on the plane. There were other mothers on board. One sent some of her children’s snacks to me via fellow passengers. Another played with him to keep him distracted. One tried to carry on a normal conversation with me, to calm me. It was my first time traveling with my toddler, so it was a bit overwhelming for me. Recently, I saw an article about a mother who went through a similar situation at an airport. When I read that, it resonated with me.
Funny enough, I never wanted children. Honestly, I didn’t think I was mother material. And still wonder at times. I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant, but decided to keep chugging along. Curiosity got the best of me. I’m an older mom. I had my son at 41. So, it was a huge life change for me. My journey into motherhood has been interesting. I tend to have mixed feelings about it. I love my son, of course. I enjoy watching him come into his own. He’s a quirky kid, which I like. However, I miss my freedom sometimes. I think my ambivalence towards motherhood, is due to how it started out. It was chaotic and traumatic.
It’s May, which means Mother’s Day celebrations. However, for incarcerated mothers, it’s a reminder they will not be with their children/loved ones. Particularly, Black mothers who are the most vulnerable of becoming victims of the criminal justice system. One of the most pressing concerns for advocates of prison abolition, has been the alarming rate of Black women being held in jail…due to not being able to make bail. This highlights the economic inequality of Black women.
“This country’s pay gap problem — the yawning gap between the wages of Black women and white men — can have especially onerous implications in the criminal justice system. Economically disadvantaged Black women have fewer resources to make bail, causing them to wind up behind bars for far too long, even for crimes they’ve only been charged with and often are not found guilty of. This extra time in jail can lead to a seemingly never-ending downward financial spiral. Defendants can lose their jobs, along with access to benefits and even their housing. In short, incarcerating a woman who is poor will only make her poorer.”https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/women-and-criminal-justice/heres-how-prison-and-jail-systems-brutalize-women
A couple of years ago, Black Lives Matters/other grassroots organizations, made it their mission to bail out Black women on Mother’s Day. Besides, getting them out of jail, these groups provided the women with resources/opportunities to help them get back on their feet/thrive in their communities. Please consider making a donation to this important cause, as well as sharing on social media.
For the month of May, I will be dedicating the blog to Black motherhood. The National Bail Out/Black Mama’s Bail Out is one of varied ways people can empower Black mothers.
My mom passed away a few years ago (RIP), so I’m ho-hum about Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday. My mom and I had our battles (typical parent/child stuff), but we got along well for the most part . She was my friend. Plus, my mom didn’t play. Heh. I remember being shocked out of my socks, when my mom’s partner called to tell me that she had passed away. He had found her in the shower. I remember throwing down the phone and screaming/crying. I had just saw her the week before. At the time, my mom was living in Arizona and I visited for a short vacation. I remember she had cooked a huge pot of gumbo and she tried to get me to take some home with me. I didn’t want to have to carry it on the plane, so I declined. I figured I would get a bowl next time…
The following days were surreal. I had to fly back to Arizona to pack up her things. Then I flew back home to make arrangements. Then I flew to our original hometown to have the funeral with our family. Finally, I flew back home to…sadness. They say time heals all wounds, and it does make things a little easier. I still miss my mom everyday and wish she was here. Happy Mother’s Day, mom 🙂
I don’t have children of my own, so I won’t be getting a box of chocolates on Sunday. I have to admit this is the one day I’m envious of folks with children. I want a free meal too! I have never wanted to have kids. Even when I was a child, I told folks I didn’t want children. Of course, folks said I would change my mind when I got older. Well, I am older and if anything, it has reinforced my stance.
I don’t know why having children has never appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m always on the go. I like movement and freedom. Also, despite popular belief, motherhood is not universal. Motherhood is much more complex for black women. We live in a society that hates our children. We have to worry if our children will come back home after walking to the corner store or seeking help after they’ve had a car accident. Will the police shot our children, just because they see a black kid running? Will another black child shoot our child because of internalized racism/misguided priorities?
It can be stressful combined with all the regular parent worries. That’s why I give props to black moms/parents/caregivers who have decided to go down that road. It’s not easy to raise black children in this society. So, much love this Mother’s Day.
The reason why I’m being reflective on the issue of black motherhood, is because I watched bell hooks recent lecture at New School. hooks and Salamishah Tillet tackled the difficulty of raising empowered black daughters. It’s a good discussion…