Insights

Respecting Black Motherhood

By Krystina MuhammadMay 13, 2020

Black mothers have often struggled with allowing space for our own self care and creating space for our own mental wellness. It is crucial that Black mothers try to prioritize ourselves. This is how those of us who mother can be the best version of ourselves.

Black women, through all of our lived experiences in the United States, have always proven that we have an innate ability to overcome difficulty. We have faced the breakdowns of our families, the loss of our children and the removal of our autonomy.

“That is only scratching the surface of the pain we have encountered and continue to face.”

Many of us are the sole providers and sole caretakers of our families. We are forced to work through sickness, lesser pay, and constant disrespect. It is no surprise that outsiders looking in often wonder how we still find space to smile, laugh and rejoice in some of the smallest victories. Or, maybe, our strength is what makes us some of the greatest cultural influencers. Whatever it may be, we as Black women continue to shock the world as we rise above hardships.

With our backs already against the wall, Black mothers are now facing a new challenge: adjusting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that many of us are home with our children, our partners, and elder members of our families—and caring for them all. Many of our mothers have been furloughed or laid off, forced to now worry about how to financially sustain our families, while still homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, care taking and trying to avoid getting sick.

On the other hand, some of our mothers are still working—some from home, and others as essential workers, forced to leave the protection of their homes, and possibly coming into contact with those infected with COVID-19. There is no doubt that life and motherhood has shifted since the start of this pandemic; however, that shift has not been a completely negative experience for all mothers.

Some are expressing the joys of being about to spend time with their children or having the ability to take their education where they believe it can go. Having time to nurture and really provide the emotional and mental support our children and families have been longing for has been an unexpected side effect of this pandemic for which some mothers have expressed gratitude.

But, how are we, Black mothers, supporting ourselves? We have often struggled with allowing space for our own self care and creating space for our own mental wellness. Now, though, with this pandemic at large, it is crucial that Black mothers try—at least try—to prioritize ourselves, even though it can sound like just one more thing to do on our ever expanding to-do lists. Women, despite the structural barriers we face, are whole people.

This is the time for us to bring our whole selves to motherhood, changing the many negative stigmas we’ve faced for generations and disrupting the narrative that we must be perfect at all times. We can only do that if we prioritize our mental well being. Let’s continue to encourage our mothers to find peace, solitude, and permit them to create space for themselves. This is how we get the best of our mothers and how those of us who mother can be the best version of ourselves.