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We know that no two mothers will have the same journey, especially when raising their children in the backdrop of racism. In addition to the ups and downs of raising young children, black mothers face intersecting disadvantages due to systemic racism. In this blog, Kim* and Vanessa each share their experiences as black mothers and their reflections on Mother’s Day.
For me, Mother’s Day is like any other day. A day filled with a bundle of love, happiness, and hard work. Mother’s Day is a day for me to reflect on the blessing of motherhood, all that I have achieved regarding parenting and reflect on how I can improve. In 2018, I became a mother when I was 22-years old. As a single parent, I found the first year of motherhood challenging. The reality of being on call 24/7 to my son, who was 100% dependent on me, was difficult. During the first year of motherhood, I also battled with low moods, and I self-referred to cognitive therapy and counselling sessions. I remember initially lacking the practical skills to take care of my newborn baby and even myself.
Whilst I was pregnant, I had a temporary admin job that helped me afford his essential items. However, after my maternity pay stopped, I struggled to afford necessities. I struggled to find an appropriate part-time job that offered me flexibility. Eventually, I found a job as an administrator at a university. A typical workday involved waking up at 5 AM, dropping my son at daycare, and then commuting to central London on the train. This resulted in me having minimal energy levels to play with my son at the end of the day.
As a result of the pandemic, my temporary work contract was not renewed due to a cost-saving initiative. Many BAME colleagues were disproportionately affected by the job cuts because they were more likely to be in insecure support roles. I currently live with my parents and share a room with my four-year-old son. I know that I do not have long until my son is going to need his own bedroom. I dream of us having a 2-bedroom apartment but I do not know how I will ever afford a place of my own. I’m not alone in this experience.
Black mothers face significant challenges such as financial exclusion, gender pay gap, racism and sexism. I would like black mothers to be provided with more information regarding access to childcare, mental health, employment, and housing support.
Mother’s Day is an empowering time for us to celebrate the hard work of the women who raise the next generation. It’s also a sad day for me, as I recall that mental illnesses have had the upper hand for generations of my family. My foremothers have suffered unresolved trauma and afflictions, such as depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the list goes on.
It’s a time to recognise strength as we still battle the same problems in a modern context. The stigma still follows me and the fear of being a victim of the same cycle as a black woman often haunts me. However, I rise above knowing that there’s a way out. The biggest challenge is accepting that it’s okay not to be ok, it’s okay to have a break and it’s okay to say no.
We need to support more BAME led platforms and support groups who can understand and assist black mothers and family. I would like to see more opportunities to amplify the gifts and talents that have been buried for generations, which haven’t been nurtured in our black communities. As a result of poverty and distorted perceptions, our confidence and opportunities have been broken down. Many black families need the opportunity to build their confidence, share their amazing skills and be the change they need to see happening!
We founded Mums on a Mission, a Black-led organisation, to challenge child poverty and build resilience and confidence in our communities. We do this with peer advocates, boxing tutors, campaigners and the list goes on. For me, Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate all the amazing Mums on a Mission and their children. It’s a special time to appreciate our mothers, grand-mothers and recall how far we have come in this journey as black women.