The little girl had to be about two, not much more, and she had this little purse thingy that she was absolutely fascinated with—much more so than the high school football game her mother had dragged her to. I noticed her waving it in her mother’s face, an attempt to get her mama to play with her. The mother? She wasn’t having it.
“I don’t want to play with that,” she snapped, without even looking at her baby.
When the little girl gave another feeble attempt to get her mother’s attention, the lady was all sharp edges and thunder: “I said, I don’t want it,” she seethed through gritted teeth. “Sit it down, shit.”
Now Nick missed all this, but my heart just sank when baby girl wandered away from her mother and her two friends, and started trying to get my husband’s attention. He happily obliged her attempt to join her in playing with the purse. I chimed in with compliments on her shoes and telling her that I loved her afro puffs—something, anything, to make her smile. To deflect from the fact that her mother was acting the donkey toward her baby girl, who was looking for some motherly attention on a Friday night at 10 p.m., when she should have been home in her pajamas, in her crib, sleeping in Heavenly peace.
Peace wasn’t on her mother’s mind. Neither was kindness, particularly when it came to her daughter. Still, though I was disgusted by her behavior, it wasn’t at all surprising. I know Black moms love our babies and that we care for their every need just like any other mom—even and especially when we have to make a way out of no way. But my God, the cursing, the beating, the emotional abuse that I see some Black moms unleashing on their children in the street, at the mall, on public transportation, in school, out in public, hurts me to my core.
Now I’m not stranger to the mean mom. Y’all need to ask about my mom; she’s legend with “The Look” and, yes, the switch. With her, children were to be seen, not heard, and any misstep, no matter how slight, might incur the wrath. She was a great mom. But mean as all get out until I got older and had babies of my own. And she wasn’t alone: I grew up surrounded by Black mothers—women I loved and who loved me back—who were just plain mean. For no good reason. Read more…
On this much, I am very clear: when I had my first baby more than 14 years ago, I was blessed to be working at a time when the economy was strong, a good job with benefits could be had, and a decent maternity leave was still possible. Between a year’s worth of vacay and sick days, the federally-mandated 12-week maternity leave and a few more months unpaid maternity leave I coaxed out of HR, I managed to scrape up a full nine months worth of leave with my Mari—time off with my baby that I could afford because the hubs and I had some money saved. I recognized that what I pulled off was huge, even in those prosperous times, particularly for a Black mom. But it’s clear that had I needed maternity leave today, I’d probably be in the same boat with 40 percent of new moms, taking one to four weeks of maternity leave or worse, none at all.
From Today Moms:
About two-thirds of U.S. women are employed during pregnancy and about 70 percent of them report taking some time off, according to most recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The average maternity leave in the U.S. is about 10 weeks, but about half of new moms took at least five weeks, with about a quarter taking nine weeks or more, figures showed.
But a closer look shows that 16 percent of new moms took only one to four weeks away from work after the birth of a child — and 33 percent took no formal time off at all, returning to job duty almost immediately. Read more…
By TRACEY MICHAE’L LEWIS-GIGGETTS
It was an ordinary day. Except that it wasn’t. My daughter and I were making our usual trek into downtown Philadelphia and to her daycare facility. Me: Singing her favorite jams like “The Wheels On the Bus” and “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” at the top of my lungs. Her: Getting her baby girl giggle on before falling off to sleep for her morning nap. There was so much normalcy. So much peace. That was before the avalanche of sound that came out of nowhere.
The crashing of the red pickup truck into the car behind me.
The slamming of that car into the rear end of mine
The squealing of the brakes as I tried with all my might—and successfully—to stop before hitting the truck in front of me.
The terrified yelling of my mother on the cell phone that had fallen onto the floor from the seat.
And yes, the piercing scream of my child. Read more…
Labor Day holds a very special place in my heart for a very specific reason: I grew up in a household with parents who were blue collar workers—who toiled hard and struggled mightily on the assembly lines of factories for decades so that they could provide a good life for my brother and me. We were not rich, by any means. And while their work did not save lives—Mommy did quality control at Estee Lauder, and Daddy ran the cake line at Entenmann’s—their contribution did bring some measure of peace to the world. Make-up and cake make people happy. Mostly, on this day, I celebrate their hard work—their labor—for what it did for us: it kept our family fed, housed, educated. Sustained.
This year, though, I add to my Labor Day a different kind of reflection—that of the birth labor of American women in general, black women in particular. I do so because today, women across the country are joining together today for the first National Rally for Change, a gathering to bring attention to the need for more informed birth choices, evidence-based practice and humanity in American maternity care. Rallies are being held today between 10 a.m. and noon at or near hospitals in 110 cities in 45 states by advocates with a singular mission: to call attention to the fact that the U.S. maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past 25 years and, despite that the U.S. spends the most money across the globe in maternity care, our country lags behind a whopping 49 industrialized nations in maternal survival rates. Read more…
By TRACEY MICHAE’L LEWIS-GIGGETTS
Since my daughter, MaKayla, was born eight months ago, I’ve been two-faced. Not in the colloquial sense of the word; as in pretending to be and feel one way but acting another. Although I don’t know if I’m too far off from that. No, I mean two-faced as in there are two mes; two selves. The first one is the sister I’m trying so desperately not to forget. The woman who used to catch a train from Philly to Brooklyn for the latest writing conference or arts festival—just because the air smelled right when she woke up that morning. The lurker on Hotwire.com who, upon finding a great deal, used to snatch up Hubby for a quick getaway to the Jersey or Maryland or Virginia shores.
Key words: Used to.
So now there’s this new Tracey. The one who has to plan a simple trip to the grocery and still needs thirty minutes to get out the door. The mother who sometimes forgets to pack the wipes in her sugarplum’s diaper bag and has to come all the way home to get them lest there be some other kind of scents happening in the bread aisle. Read more…
By Denene Millner
With tears in her 7 year-old eyes, she states, “But mom, I told you I wanted a birthday cake with cherry frosting!!!” Before her mother could even reply, the door bell rings. “DING-DONG” The 7 year-old girl opens the door and the UPS man hands over a box to her. She fakes a smile to him, closes the door, slams the box down on the counter and goes back to the argument with her mom. She continues to express her passion about the specifics of the cake (that she told her mom weeks prior to) that she wants for her birthday. As she pleads her case, her mom opens the box and unpacks it. As the tears continue to flow from her disappointed eyes, the mom continues to unload flour from the box… As well as eggs… As well as cherry extract… As well as a rubber spatula and a few other things. Her mom listens attentively, while laying all of the contents on the counter. The little girl, gets even more annoyed at the fact that her mom isn’t paying much attention to her “Cake-Cry,” but instead is opening a butter wrapper that she also pulled out of the box. At this point, the mom is trying to hold in her laugh as she goes to turn on the oven yet is still listening to her daughter share her pain, and dissatisfaction of not being able to have a cherry cake for her birthday. At this point the little girl storms out of the kitchen to her room, slams the door, and throws herself under her covers to finish crying. The major issue here is, She didn’t recognize THE PACKAGE… Read more…
By Denene Millner
I was 27 when I married the man with whom I created two children—at the height of my career as a political reporter-turned-journalist and just as my first book made its way to store shelves. Two years into our marriage, we decided to have children. Each of them was made from love. Wanted. Mari arrived when I was almost 31—Lila three years later, almost to the day. I can honestly say that by the time my second daughter arrived, I was exhausted—working an exacting job as a magazine editor, traveling from state-to-state promoting my published books, writing more books in the middle of the night—later, dealing with the grief of losing my mother and a massive move South and the bold journey to becoming a full-time author and freelance writer. In other words, I built my career while I built my family—something the women from my generation were wont to do. But I saw a shift in the sisters coming right behind me—women who put career-building ahead of family-building, and suggested that I was “rushing” into having kids when I should have been nurturing my burgeoning career as a journalist and author. They wanted love and babies, but not at the expense of the jobs they’d studied for and worked so hard to get. They understood the stakes. Took the chances. And some of them are just fine with their decisions. But some of them, now in their late 30s and 40s, are not. Read more…
By TOKEYA C. GRAHAM
I have been a mother for almost half of my life. I had my first child when I was still a child myself. At 19 years old, two years out of high school and four years into what I thought was true love, I became a mama for the first time. As I pushed my 12 weeks-premature, 2 lb., 8 oz. baby into the world, I knew I would forever be changed. And I was right; unknowingly, I stepped naturally into the role that was tailor-made for me. Read more…
By ROD PEREZ
Dad, I’ve grown up to be a good man. I want you to see that. I want you to see that the boy you left behind is fine. The boy you’ve made “ice cream promises” to is fine.
I was hip to your game, you know—how you would show up just enough times to squelch your guilt. I’ve known for a long time now, Dad. You claimed to have missed me, but all I know is that you missed my birthdays. The creative mind of innocence made excuses for why you never came when you said you would. I actually believed them, too. The hearts of children. Belief is pure. But soon enough, it finds out the truth. Read more…
Dubbed as the spiritual love child of Sade and D’Angelo by Rolling Stone, Goapele has a voice that is unmistakable. With a highly anticipated album set to give us eargasms galore, Goapele talks Break Of Dawn, Natural Hair & Mommyhood with WiseCurls. Enjoy!
WC: 10/24. Break Of Dawn. What was the concept behind the album and what makes this album different from previous albums?
G: The concept for this album was to put out good soulful music to share where I am now and give people something that they can feel. Read more…
By MICHELLE BOND
When I close my eyes and think of my man taking me in his arms and passionately kissing me, I imagine us in a movie where the camera pans away to the beautiful star-filled sky and the time lapses and we see the bright early morning sunrise illuminating the earth. Sounds sweet and cheesy, right?
Yeah, well, it’s all roses and romance until this same magical image involves my 14-year-old son and some girl wanting him to make her feel like a woman. I gasp and my mind goes blind from the thought.
Teen sex is only mildly cute and humorous when scripted in the movies. At the risk of dating myself, I think back to Cooley High, when a fight breaks out at a “make out party.” Or any 80’s movie where Molly Ringwald somehow becomes the must- have girl and always finds the conviction to save herself until the time is right. These movies set up us parents—and especially single moms—to fail. Because they delude us into thinking our teenage kids are automatically going to know to say “no,” or something comical is going to happen to stop them from doing the do.
Only in the movies, folks. Read more…
I quickly took the pregnancy test out of the bag and fumbled with the instructions: Pee on the stick, wait three minutes, discover if your whole world is about to change. I didn’t even have time to put the test down on the counter before “PREGNANT” appeared on the little digital screen. Oh, sh**.
That was five years ago. I had just turned 20, was smack in the middle of my junior year of college, and was looking forward to a summer internship in New York, the first step on my road to world domination. This was not the time for a baby.
Instead of feeling elated about the news, I was burdened by how I thought others would react and my own personal shortcomings. I wore extra large shirts on campus for the rest of the semester and didn’t speak a word of the pregnancy to anyone except those who absolutely needed to know. During that period of my life, I probably averaged at least three full-blown crying fits a week. On the bus. In my dorm room. In the car on the way to the doctor’s office. Read more…
Who: Denene Millner
Why: MyBrownBaby.com is an online destination for thought-provoking,
insightful, wickedly funny commentary on motherhood, for and by moms of color.
Through posts penned by a collection of best-selling authors, award-winning
poets, national parenting experts and moms and dads passionate about raising
great kids, MyBrownBaby.com lifts the voices of African-American moms (and
dads!) looking for the 411 / advice / a high-five on everything from pregnancy
and childrearing to sex, work and relationships—all filtered through the lens
of the African American experience. MyBrownBaby.com was founded by longtime
Parenting magazine columnist Denene Millner, the New York Times best-selling
author of 19 books and a frequent contributor for Essence, Ebony and Jet
magazines. Read more…
By Denene Millner
Me: Mommy? We learned about periods in health class today. The teacher said we should get this kit. It comes with books and pads and stuff.
My mom: Okay.
Uh, huh. That was the end of the conversation. She ordered the kit for me — it came with three books about puberty and an assortment of pads and tampons — and when it arrived, she handed it to me and we never talked about periods again. I was 13 when I finally got mine; I was at my uncle’s house on a weekend visit, and spent half of Saturday and most of Sunday with wads of toilet tissue stuffed in my panties, too embarrassed to ask my uncle for help, and later, too embarrassed to tell my mother about it. My mom didn’t find out, either, until after she realized I’d used up all the pads in my kit.
She was hurt. I could tell from the look in her eyes. Read more…
When I deliberated over what our daughter would look like, I secretly hoped she would have my eye shape and my husband’s eye color. He has very wide, stunning blue eyes. They were the first thing I noticed when I saw him, and still one of my favorite physical qualities of his. Read more…
My blog homie Britni Danielle, who holds it down lovely over at Clutch (my online Bible for all things young, black, smart and feminine), has been putting in work at BabyCenter, where she blogs about motherhood. I’m so very proud of her work there (and super happy that someone thought to add a mom of color to the massive blogging line-up that, until Britni joined, included only one non-white mom—my homegirl Kimberly Allers Seals of MochaManual.com). Occasionally, Britni gives me a heads up on her writings, and yesterday, she hit me up on Twitter with this:
The comments are heating up. What do you say? Ever feel pressured to have more kids?
She was referring to a piece she’d written on BabyCenter, in which she declared that her son would likely be an only child, not because she’s not physically capable of having a second baby, but because she doesn’t want to have one. In her post,“Ever Feel Pressured To Have More Kids,” Britni writes:
Growing up, I visualized a house full of kids. I’d picture myself whipping up meals, while my children made mud pies in the yard, or I’d think about corralling them into the minivan for a family road trip. When I pictured my ideal life all those years ago, I never thought I’d be the mother of an only child.
By Curly Nikki
Here I sit in State College, PA… life uprooted, internet-less, cable-less, and living in a house that I can only liken to a summer cottage. Why? Because like a vacation home, it’s old, dusty and dank, as if it’s been vacant for months on end… devoid of life, save for the bustling community of spiders that appear to be doing quite well for themselves. Everything is dingy and worn, paint peeling… vintage chic, I suppose?
By TARA PRINGLE JEFFERSON
Sleepy and still aching from my C-section, I took a quick walk to the mailbox to get some fresh air and actually remember what it was like to feel the sun on my face. Only a week since my daughter was born and I was already going stir-crazy in the house all day.
I pulled out an envelope I got from the hospital. Thinking nothing of it, I tore it open and found a bill for $27,000. That emergency C-section and seven-day hospital stay for both mother and baby was hella expensive, it turned out. Read more…
“TIGER MOM” AMY CHUA TO HEADLINE MOCHA MOMS, INC. NATIONAL CONFERENCE
— EPA head Lisa P. Jackson and best-selling author Kimberly Sears-Allers to also speak —
Amy Chua, bestselling author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” to speak at Mocha Moms, Inc. Parent Nation conference
Las Vegas, NV (BlackNews.com) — Mocha Moms, Inc., the national non-profit organization that supports at-home mothers of color, has announced that Amy Chua, bestselling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, will be the keynote speaker during its national conference in Las Vegas July 21-24, 2011 at the Bally’s Paris Hotel. Ms. Chua will speak in an open to the public luncheon session on Saturday, July 23 about her controversial book, highlighting the rewards and costs of raising her two daughters the strict “Chinese” way. Read more…
By Anslem Samuel
I just recently turned seventeen and I’m always so ridiculously horny! It’s not even funny. I can even get off by listening to Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy.” I’m almost always thinking about sex and masturbate quite frequently. At school I imagine being taken advantage of by my male teachers and I mentally bang almost every good-looking person I see.