By: Kavarshia Weeks
Recently, a set of photos from two separate occasions went viral unmasking a mom who had gathered, both in her hands and mouth: her baby boy, groceries, a value box of diapers, a diaper bag, shopping bags, a sippy cup and alas, her phone. The photos received responses such as, “Super Woman” ; “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” ; “Respect” ; “Real” ; “Super Mom” ; “That’s real dedication” ; “You deserve rounds” ; “You the real MVP” ; and lastly, “The life of a mother.” A few responses consisted of jokes but they understood and respected the meaning behind her photos and caption titled ‘One Trip or Die Tryin’. I myself, had to chip in with applauding her because for
1. She’s handling hers, and
2. This isn’t always the case.
More times than not, when you see a young black mother, it’s negative imagery that is associated. Most times it doesn’t matter where she’s headed or where she’s coming from. Young black mothers more than any other woman of a certain ‘status’ (good or bad) catch a bad rep. These women are subconsciously labeled as unwanted, opposed, devalued, marked, dropouts or trashed due to carrying “baggage”. I’ll even add ‘baby mama’ due to its’ negatively derived connotation. Because of this, an unbelievable amount of voices and stories go unheard from these women because of shame or lack of acceptance and it’s tiring.
As an illustration, imagine three young black women standing next to you. The young black woman who’s standing nmext to you is doing all that she has set out to do. She publicly shows her greatest and latest accomplishments yet keeps her battles behind closed doors. On the other side, a young black woman unapologetically reveals every high and low. She understands she’s human and knows that her faith and perseverance will guide her over every obstacle. Then there’s the young black woman with a mind exploding with ambition, passion, signed accomplishments, great work ethic and in school but what goes without denial, a few stares and head nods, is her having a baby on her hip. Though all are deserving, the Mother goes without acknowledgement because she’s doing what she’s supposed to be doing, anyway or due to the instilled negative imagery those around her have of her.
Without a doubt, those who say that the job of a Mother is what mothers are supposed to do, are correct. So why receive an applause? For the same reason that most of you all enter college with a major and associated classes, receive exceeding (or good enough grades) then go to post them on social media or send text messages for appraisal. For the same reason that the other percentage choose not to attend college but work, trade school or join the army to have a promising future yet still want appraisal.
Regardless of the chosen path it’s tough work, dedication and consistency. Telling someone, “You’re doing a good job,” is sometimes needed to continue going. Given the negative connotation behind “babymama”, there are a lot of those who seemingly receive more attention in the media than actual mothers. Please believe me, there’s a difference.
Prior to acknowledging the difference, I was a graduated student in my top class, with leadership accomplishments, apart of great organizations, a “principal’s pet” and awarded a rare opportunity in my community to attend our First Black President’s 2013 Presidential Inauguration. During after hours and summers, I was just as busy, excited and focused with volunteer work and modeling for charity events and fundraisers. Most of what I’d entertain myself with was what allowed me to get accepted to over 15 amazing colleges including my dream school. My time in college became one of many highlights of my life and I soon found myself to become just as involved with extracurriculars as I were in high school. Whether it was volunteering, trying out for organizations or getting dragged to just about every leadership and social event with my cousin who was then an established junior, I was determined to take and receive every prosperous opportunity meant for me.
With this intention, I didn’t plan to create my seed 8-10 years earlier however, a lack of greater safety granted me with what I eventually came to accept. True enough I was shattered, yet a good amount of supporters and my optimistic attitude towards my seed guided me, and with that came negative perceptions from others. People approached me with repetitive questions, opinions and suggestions consisting: putting my child’s father on child support, encouraging me to ‘live’ off the government, dropping out of college, playing ‘dumb’ to who impregnated me for benefits, using ‘no’ protection and contracting what generations foolishly ignore.
I had young girls with kids approaching me with a six week old in my arms asking if I were pregnant, had more kids or if I knew the “babydaddy”. …..Are ya’ll laughing or smirking yet? Unfortunately there’s more, but with time, I became death to all that was attempting to make my pregnancy and new role miserable. Nothing of what I listed pertained to me. My child’s Father and I had planned and plotted how we were going to raise our daughter, who to have her around, be there and be for her regardless.
That is to say that any woman or girl with a child are not the same; the only thing that links every young mother and ‘babymama’ is the fact that we each have a child. You have those who still can’t come to terms with living up to the role they’ve accepted and those who put aside themselves to take care of what they’ve brought into this world. That is the difference. This is why I I admired and gave a heavy applause to the young lady whose photos went viral.
I understood because I was in her position at times coupled with other struggles; it’s real. With me it was hard walking miles around campus growing life inside of me that ended to be 8 pounds and 4 oz. It was hard keeping focus and acing my homework, classwork, projects and exams for two majors and a minor with pregnancy brain. It was hard making sure I crossed my Pre-Vet organization and keeping up with volunteering on campus. To top it all off, it was dreadful dealing with postpartum and ill-intent outsiders for months while working a job, enrolling in school the very next semester and caring for new life.
Needless to say, many didn’t care much about my health but the entrance of my child whom they’ve shamed because of her growth in my womb or me finishing school. Given the entire process was hard I did gain comfort from my child’s movements and a few loved one’s presence the entire 41 weeks.
Now, all of this is to show that this isn’t a 4 year plan then you graduate and go off living life. When you choose to take this amount of responsibility, it’s forever and it’s tough. However, despite the struggles I’ve battled during my pregnancy and that I go through till this day, many of them are beautiful. Before the thought of a child entered my mind nearly everything was a walk in the park. All that was needed was focus, time management, sleep, nourishment and avoidance. But with that acceptance came not only nourishment for me but for another life, including: constant attention, lack of sleep, paranoia, frustration, unexpected schedules, a constant messy body and messy clothes, more washing, more shopping for her than I’ve ever done for myself, more “no’s”, a lot of play time and lastly more kodak moments. I never knew I could be capable of so much and never knew my strength and resilience until then.
Young black mothers, in spite of, you too matter and you deserve a round of applause. You deciding to take responsibility for what you’ve been dealt doesn’t equate to you nor your child being baggage but that of a packaged deal. Your importance nor value isn’t any less than the woman who conceived her child/ren yet aborted for personal reasons. Your importance nor value isn’t any less than the woman who engages in sexual intercourse before marriage. Your value, along with theirs, till this day amounts to the price equally paid for everyone’s sins.
What bothers most people so much is that you have something to show for the sex that took place but what should bother them is that you’re able to carry as much as another life while still prospering or aiming to prosper. You’re taking on so much so early on your own accord with great strength. You, sweetie, are “the real MVP”. It’s obvious that nearly any woman and little girl can pop out babies but it takes a Mother to take on that role to nurture, protect, love, raise, teach, discipline, comfort and be selfless towards her child.
Who you are, what you have and what you stand for may be more than what anyone, even you, can bare but remember there is beauty in every struggle. From the late night studying with a busy and crying baby, working whatever hours you can fit to make sure that you can provide for you and your seed without depending too much on the government or not at all, making sure you get your child to every assigned appointment to keep him(her) healthy, responding to your child’s every need and want all while trying to get you a meal, shower and hair appointment in, keeping in contact with your friends or family, fulfilling your ‘BaeMomma’ duties (if that) and lastly, carrying everything from the groceries to your child in your arms while trying to get the keys in the doorknob when your child’s Father isn’t around to assist. Yes, this is the life of a mother and it’s not even the least of it.
Everything that you were striving for before your child came into existence, never lose focus and passion for it. Never allow anyone’s negative perception of you keep you from having a voice on paper, in the media or on the mic and never allow negativity to become so forceful that it casts shame on you and hold you back from sowing what might reaps into enjoying life peacefully with your child; prosperity is limited to no one when you want it more bad than you sleep and breath.
Your path will alter and opportunities may get passed up but double your faith, remain persistent and hold on to the strength that you gained and watch God replace what you’ve lost with something not your enemies, your doubters nor the devil hasn’t seen and can’t touch. If you had no one before looking up to you, you do now and your children will thank you. Create a future for you and your children that is worth happily acknowledging and sharing what took you to get to it. You all are right. No one told these young black mothers to make a poor decision and bring this upon themselves but that should not take away from their prosperity, drive and the acknowledgement that’s willingly given away to unfits all while taking responsibility and caring for another life.
Young women without a child, let this story be another lesson and to the young black mothers carrying life, don’t be afraid to use your voice.