How Bad Mothers Are Made in America

At this point, it is ‘old news’... But, do you remember how the New York Post took a few lines from New York Magazine’s in-depth profile on Chirlane McCray (NYC's Mayor de Blasio’s wife) & wrote a whole article that criticized her because she called herself a bad mom? No, don’t remember? I am not linking it because it’s just sensational & misguided.

Here is the short of it: McCray, a working woman, wanted to continue her passions as she raised her children & cared for her elderly mama. Her sentiments on being a “bad mom” seemed to have stemmed from feeling overwhelmed on having to make a decision on what loves should take priority. 

This is a conflict that many American mothers encounter in their daily lives. A conflict between work outside of the home & work inside of the home. Two lives that aren’t aligned in this country, especially for those of us with children with one active parent & trying to get out or stay out of poverty. It’s interesting that when we think about the challenges in parenthood & career we automatically think of women because of the assumption that nurturing is our sole responsibility, but that’s for another post.

The New York Post didn’t lie on what Chirlane McCray said, however, in context they did. It is unfair to critique motherhood when we live in a society that doesn’t fundamentally support women to be caregivers & breadwinners. We live in a society that pushes the narrative of the importance of family & hard work, & yet, those identities aren’t monetarily supported for many low-income women, especially. My work in & outside of the home hasn't aligned for me. What I have encountered are systems that are just a monotonous cycle in living paycheck to paycheck. Where I work long hours for very little. In turn, I risk becoming an absentee parent in the home. 

I am not trying to blame the government for my shortcomings financially, because spiritually I believe that I can do better for myself, but before I get into my Deepak Chopra moment, let’s take some look at some concrete facts. 

Aristotle wrote that the first community begins at home. Meaning, family is the foundation in creating values for our society at large. & although Americans believe that family is important, our policies prove otherwise.

Think about it. Who is usually the center of a family? Women. Women are the caregivers for children, the sick, the disabled, & the elderly. So if we live in a society that claims that they value family, why aren’t we valuing women? & I am not talking about flowers & mother’s day cards. I mean real change, as in money. You know the stuff we need to own land & be self-sustaining. 

Latina women are paid less than their male white counterparts. Latina women make $0.58 compared to men who make $1.00 doing the same job.  

“If women working full time, year round, were paid the same for their work as comparable men, we would cut the poverty rate for working women and their families in half.” - Putting Women at the Center of Policymaking Public Solutions to Help Women Push Back from the Brink By Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad

-The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink 

So, you are saying that if women earned the same wages as men, the current poverty rate would be cut in half. Imagine how many babymamas & children that could affect. Alleviating poverty translates to better neighborhoods, schools, food, & the ability to travel. 

Also, the United States of America is one out of four countries that doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave. So, when women become pregnant, they have to either use their sick &/or vacation days or they have to quit their jobs altogether, which furthers the cycle of poverty for women & their families. 

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Ironically, access to paid family leave is more often available to women in high paying jobs that also have college or other advanced degrees, than those with lower income and education levels who are living closer to the edge of their family budgets. Compounding the issue is the fact that those with lower incomes are significantly less likely to have any paid sick, personal, or vacation time at all, leaving the most fiscally vulnerable segments of our society unprotected. 

From the Motherhood Manifesto via  MomsRising.org

We still haven’t talked about the potential psychological & health affects for babymamas in poverty. The kinds of stresses for single mothers that affects our children first.

If Chrilane, a co-parent to her children, middle income, can feel like a bad mother, imagine the many women who are actually bad mothers because of the need to work & still be present at home. Imagine the physical, emotional, & mental neglect that is passed down to children who have poor access to education, food, & health because their mama is too busy being stressed, tired, irritable, tired, & sick. Imagine those homes who have parents but cannot be fully present in the lives of their children because they are stressed & feel alone because of poverty.

I mindfully fight hard to be there for Zi, but I have my days. I say, Zi, not today. Mami is in a bad mood, not because of you, but just because. Yet, I somehow come out of it. I write about it.

I am grateful that I have tools in my arsenal to meditate, write, & reground myself. I am thankful that I have access to friends & have leverage of technology & the internet to stay connected when the hood around me isn't enough. 

But still it gets hard. It gets lonely. Bad mothers are made in this country. I fight everyday to be present, to be alive, & to raise a whole human being. She may not be the freshest in school, but she will be the most loving, the best fed with wholesome ingredients, & with the highest vibrational frequency. 

I thank god because my spirit is what pays me these days. I am still trying to pave a life that pays not a living wage, but one that thrives. 

A thriving wage while still being present as a mother. A babymama...