Mommy Wars in Black and White

I don’t know what’s going on with me but lately my patience has been pretty non-existant. To be blunt I find people annoying me more and more and that lack of patience has played my role in my decision to actively reduce my time online. Don’t get me wrong, I’m here but I am no longer posting daily at this point the goal is 2-3 posts a week, I still am on Facebook and Twitter but no longer do I find myself spending hours surfing blogs and connecting via social media. Let’s just say the changes have been good not only for me but  for the entire family. I am also redefining my work time so that when work is over, its over…my new joke is unless the joint is burning up, don’t call me.

So what is it that had me in such a tizzy that I have to just unplug? To be honest its Mommy Wars. I used to think that Mommy Wars was an invention of the media to make Moms feel even worse but ladies frankly I think we bring it on ourselves. As a Black woman I find rarely does the issue of parenting and parenting philosophies come up when I am talking or spending time with my Black or minority buddies. To be honest, yes we may talk about how the kids are doing but rarely are hours spent on wondering why Johnny does XYZ…I read a book some years ago that really touched upon the fact that Black Motherhood is approached through a different lens and I do think there is a lot of truth in that.

When I talk to a sista friend never do I feel judged in any way because I choose to work, instead it is what it is. Frankly I enjoy working, truth is I am not SAHM material. I need a lot of space and being at home all the time with the apple dumpling would be bad for both of us. I am very thankful my job is flexible, right now that flexibility is a huge deal, enough that I put up with the fact I am woefully underpaid. I never look at another sista and judge the choices that she makes be it a SAHM or WOHM…I figure people will do what’s best for them and their families. To be honest I rarely judge anyone else’s parenting unless it borders on abusive.

In the past 15 months of working with low-income at risk families I see a lot of shit that has helped readjust how I view parenting.  I see a lot of shit, that well if you saw it you’d realize there are so many things that are just not worth getting one’s panties in a bunch about.

That said I am a Black woman in a really white state and most of my day-to-day buddies are white and its these relationships that sometimes stress me the fuck out. There are days when I am out with friends and I feel like my name is Jeff Spiccoli and I am a slacker parent. Maybe its the fact that despite starting out pretty fucked up I seem to have successfully raised one kid to adulthood and he is a good kid who despite the fact he is a biracial kid of divorce who has bounced back and forth between his me and his father  is basically a well-adjusted happy kid. Even now as we eagerly await what we hope will be acceptance letters from schools, he is already coming up with his back up plans should he not get into the schools he really wants to get into and I must say that I am in awe of him. Seriously this kid is far more mature than I was 18 and I am not kidding. I should add that when he was born I never went on a website to look up information, of course there were none and I read very few parenting books. Instead I trusted my gut even when I made the painful decision to not keep legally fighting about custody knowing a day would come that my baby would leave me and live with his dad. I trusted that it would all work out, I knew what didn’t work for me a kid and have always treated my son with respect. Granted he knew especially when he was young that I was the boss and I make no apologies for that but he also knew and knows that I am always here, my ear is always available and generally I will listen and think before I speak.

On the other side with the girl child as soon as her presence was confirmed I immediately started the research, joining websites, getting book recommendations, etc…over the past 5 years I have eaten, slept and dreamt parenting issues. Honestly all this focus on parenting and raising her at one point threatened my marriage as there was a 2.5 year period where the Spousal Unit didn’t have a voice since as the chief researcher of all things parent related I felt my voice carried greater weight. You may laugh but on parenting websites too many times a mom will have a post how to get the partner to see her point of view and generally the consensus is if said partner does not do their research they don’t get a voice. Yikes! Who the fuck wants to raise a kid with such a controlling asshole?

By the same token thanks to the never-ending stream of information we women are able to constantly keep raising the bar on our fellow mothers and sadly its my white sisters who really thrive at this. It used to be that if one breastfed their kid a good 6 months or a year well it was a good thing…but now its like oh you weaned at 18 months? You can see the judgement on the poor Mama who did not let little Jenny self wean at 3 or 4. Full disclosure I nursed girl child till she was 3.5 I did not let her wean herself, I just got tired of nursing and felt she was more than old enough to not need to nurse and instead found other ways to connect. So before the lactivist come to string me up lets just say I have solid breastfeeding credentials especially for a woman of color, statistically Black women have lower rates of breastfeeding than white women and to date I have probably only known at best including myself 5 Black women who nursed past 18 months.

But judgement continues in all areas, use disposable diapers and folks look down on you, and work? Why goodness gracious , how can one work and raise kids? Sadly the poor Mama it seems is considered to be less loving, less dedicated if she works. Never mind that not every woman has a partner who earns enough to support the family on one check, hell not every woman even has a partner and last time I checked public assistance is hard to live off of. Unless one lives in a Section 8 apartment and gets every program known to man even then she may still be hitting up food banks at the end of the month. Not a very pretty existence and I’m sorry but as someone who grew up pretty poor at times, poverty sucks. Yet its only my white friends who agonized over these choices, I have only had 1 Black friend who chose to be a SAHM despite no financial resources or partner and she eventually had to take a job.

Even the issue of school is an area where it seems one must tread lightly. Back with my eldest it was automatically assumed that when a kid hit 5-6 they went to school but that is not the way things are anymore. Send your kids to school and you have to make excuses for why you choose that route. Hell, even the school you choose is cause for anxiety, public or private? Of course those who home school also have to deal with issues as well, do you follow a program, do you unschool? Shit the ways in which Mamas beat ourselves up is crazy. I say educate your kid in a manner that works for your family. I admit I love the idea of homeschooling, even unschooling but to be honest I know my limitations and seeing as how I am not SAHM material I doubt homeschooling would work for us. I also have a kid who thrives with structure and I don’t do structure so again I know myself and I accept this.

Please, please do not think I am slamming white mothers, I’m not instead I ask myself why do you guys make what is already a hard job even harder? Parenting a child is one of the most rewarding and joyous experiences you may ever have yet when we add judgement and snark, we make it harder on ourselves. I also wonder though why do my Black sisters not get as stressed about parenting? In some ways I think it’s because on  a whole we have so much shit we deal with it that maybe its self-preservation to not stress over every detail. I can’t help but sadly think its these differences though that at times keep us from connecting as women and mothers. I wonder how many of my readers have true friendships with women across racial and cultural lines? I think its hard because even when we share commonalities even in parenting we rarely are able to see outside our own zone.

I would welcome your thoughts on parenting across racial and cultural lines..what do you see.