Black stay at home moms get asked all kinds of strange questions, but it kinda comes with the territory. When I tell people that I’m a SAHM, the responses I get are unusual. From asking me why I’d want to be around my kids all the time, to telling me I’d do well in a fulfilling career to asking me if I can afford daycare, the responses vary in their strangeness. But then it dawns on me that the reason I’m getting these responses is not because I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), it’s because I’m a Black Stay-at-home-mom. Most people don’t expect Black moms to be at home with their kids because they want to be. There has to be some over-arching problem, impairment or barrier to work for us to want to be at home with our children. Well, not this mama. Surprise! It’s my choice. Yup, I do it because I want to. So, just to clear things up, here are the answers to some common questions I get asked.
1. Are you rich? If not, are you poor?
Let’s be honest when you think of Black stay at home moms, most people think of two images. The images most of America holds of Black SAHMs is that of either an uber rich wife of a CEO, or an underprivileged, unemployed mom from an impoverished neighborhood. I’m just keepin’ it real. But if you’re talking to me, I’m neither. I’m not rich. (This means my household does not have a six figure salary. We are normal middle class Black people). We are not poor either. Bottom-line, I’ve just made a conscious decision to be home with my kids. I know the difference between the things I need and the things I want. I want to be home when my kids are awake and pick them up from school everyday. If that means I can’t get my hair done more than once a year or have the latest car, so be it. Here’s the thing, Black stay at home moms are not apart of some monolithic group of women who’ve all stayed home for the same reason. We have different lifestyles and different ideas about life. Don’t put us all in the same basket of your preconceived notions and Black female stereotypes.
2. Do your kids get on your nerves a lot?
Yes. Honesty is the best policy. My kids are just little people. Sometimes I like them and sometimes I don’t. I always love them, but we bump heads often. However, it’s made me a more tolerant person. My mom always says that the hardest thing about raising kids is realizing that you are just there to guide them and you can’t live their lives for them. That means you have to allow them to make mistakes and you can’t always be the voice of reason. Sometimes you just have to help them brush themselves off, give them a kiss and keep life moving. As my oldest son becomes a teenager I realize that more and more each day. Even though I get upset with my boys sometimes, and I do yell (very loudly). At the end of the day I love them. Bottom-line, I’d rather yell at them out of love then to have someone else yell at them out of frustration or anger. So yes, it is not easy being with my two younger sons 24/7, but I’d rather me than someone else.
3. Do you get tired of being the only black mom there?
Yes. It’s true. There are not a lot of Black stay at home moms. Personally, I try to take my children places where I know there will be diversity, but sometimes we are the only Black family present. I do get tired of it, but I’ve chosen this lifestyle for my family. For that reason, I’m not bothered if my kids are the only ones in the homeschooling class at the Science Center or the only Black kids on the playground at 10 am on a Tuesday. While most Black moms do go back to work once their children are older, there are Black stay-at-home-moms committed to the lifestyle. If you are in the Pittsburgh region you can find moms like me through our support group Pittsburgh Brown Mamas. If not, organizations like Mocha Moms is especially for Black SAHMs.
4. Do you miss working? Do you regret quitting your job?
Nope. Just being honest again. I feel very fulfilled as a mother and wife. A wise woman once told me.
“You will never be able to impact the life of any individual the way you do when you’re a mother. As a mom you literally take the hand of your child and walk them through life.”
Hearing this from her made me think about the potential impact I have on my children and how my mere presence is influential in their life. I think all moms are capable of influencing their children, whether they are working or not. I believe in the power of good parenting and it is my life’s work. Sometimes I do good and sometimes, not so much. But, just like any job, I get up everyday and keep on trying. So, no regrets here.