With all the talk of Women’s History month, I’m constantly being reminded that Black women make the world go ‘round.
My mom became a mother when she was 19. With the help and love of family and friends, she finished nursing school, developed a career, and built a life for herself and my older sister. So that by the time that my brother and I came around, she was a pro at this Black motherhood thing. I sat down with her recently for our weekly Facetime, and asked her a few questions about Black motherhood seeing as we need Black mothers to not only be born, but to survive.
Here’s what she had to say:
What made you want to be a mother?
When I was younger, growing up taking care of my brothers and sisters, I knew that I would eventually have children. I think I wanted to create a better life for my children after growing up poor even though I didn’t focus on the fact that I didn’t have money. I think I just wanted to be a mommy.
What would you say are some of the keys to Black motherhood?
1. Being strong, for sure. I think it’s different raising Black children.Our environment and the way our world is socialized to be against Black people is what makes it different for us. It’s unfortunate, but as a parent, you have to have “the talk”.
2. Having faith in God. I think that’s where you draw your strength from daily in order to move forward in this world.
3. Ingenuity. I just think that there are different ways that you can have fun and be creative. In a world where you’re not always able to buy things for your children, you can create those things and still make them fun or stylish. This will show them that everything doesn’t have to come from the outside, but that it can come from the inside.
4. Being present. It’s when you can instill those things into your children and build those relationships. That time is needed.
What are some of the “keys to life” that you’ve tried to instill in my siblings and I? Particularly in the Black women that you’ve raised?
Because I was in school while raising Monique [my sister], education was very important to me then and it still is. I also thought it was important, while raising you both, to teach you how to be respectful of yourselves, to be safe and aware in your environments.
What words of advice would you give to young Black mothers?
Love and respect yourself, love and respect your children and have a plan for their lives.
What are some of your favorite/the most rewarding things about being a Black mother?
I would say that one of them is when your children set goals for themselves and accomplish them.
What about being a Black mother did you learn from your mother?
Strength and ingenuity – making something out of nothing.
What are some lessons that you learned on your own as a Black mother?
I don’t know if I can say I didn’t learn this from my mom because it definitely probably stemmed from her, but I think it would be self-motivation and telling myself that I could accomplish anything with hard work. And, I still got that from her even though she didn’t pursue higher education; she still told me that I could do anything – that I just had to work at it.
What’s one of the hardest experiences you’ve had as a Black mother?
For me, it’s when you see your child not living up to their potential, especially when they have the ability and have the support.
What’s one of the best experiences you’ve had as a Black mother?
When my children tell me that they love me.
How has being a Black mother shaped you as a person?
One of the things I’ve learned as a Black mother is that when you’re raising your children you do the best that you can however, you’re not always right. And, you have to learn to listen. It opens you up to be able to function in a professional setting because you need to learn to listen and you’re not always going to be right.
“There’s nothing in the world other than the love of God that’s better than motherhood.”
It wasn’t until recently that I decided and accepted that I truly want to have children. I’d been scared out of the idea at an early age to prevent teen pregnancy, something both my mother and my sister experienced. Because of the struggles that were shared with me and that I observed, I always put motherhood out of my head. Now, in finding more love for myself, and wanting to share that, I know that having children is something I actually want to do. Creating a home and a life full of love for them would be an honor. Black motherhood is a blessing which isn’t to say that everyone is fit for it nor that everyone should experience it. However, I do look forward to writing my own rules and reflecting on the lessons that my mother has taught me in how she mothered me.