As A Black SAHM, I've Been Especially Lonely During The Pandemic
I am a former English teacher turned stay-at-home mom. After 10-plus years in the classroom, I decided to take a break from copy machines and “Romeo and Juliet” to fully immerse myself in the world of imaginative play and elementary school volunteer work.
I am a Black woman of the African diaspora. Born in the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, my family moved to the United States when I was a baby. I was sworn in as an American citizen at the age of 21. I celebrated the occasion with apple pie and my own personal red, white, and blue flag.
I am a Christian woman of deep faith. I was raised in the church, and despite my own critiques of organized religion, I am a believer and am raising my children to also believe in God. I simultaneously love Jesus and justice, a juxtaposition many churches struggle with today.
I am progressive in my political leanings. This is especially problematic considering my previous admission.
I believe in a woman’s right to choose. While I can’t imagine choosing an abortion for myself — though I’ll admit I’ve never been faced with the decision — I could never stand in the way of another woman’s choice, and I don’t believe the government should either.
I support comprehensive immigration reform and protecting Dreamers, many of whom were students in my classroom. They epitomized the American dream and inspired me every day.
I think student loan debt should be eliminated. Seriously. We can make this happen.
I grew up and live in the deep south, in a state that has historically been considered “red.” Despite the work of grassroots organizers and changemakers like Stacey Abrams, local politicians seem hell-bent on reversing voter rights that disproportionately affect Black and brown voters.
And like so many others in this country and around the world, I have been living through the isolation of a global pandemic. My children have been at home since March of 2020. Our family has not dined inside a restaurant in close to a year. We have not traveled beyond the borders of our home state for what feels like an eternity. I think it’s safe to say, we are in desperate need of a break — even from each other.
My identity, all the parts that make me who I am, have only served to exacerbate the loneliness I have felt since becoming a stay-at-home mom.
It was hard enough going from a full-time classroom teacher, responsible for sharing a love of literature with thousands of students over the years, to a full-time mom responsible for managing the whims and fancies of a rambunctious and free-spirited little boy and a sassy and independent little girl.
But finding that it was almost impossible to find a network of moms who shared similar experiences was almost debilitating.
Where were the stay-at-home moms who looked like me? Sure, I might see another mother of color in the middle of the morning at the playground once every five times we visited. But I was genuinely surprised and even a little saddened to find that I was often a bit of an enigma in many of my online stay-at-home mommy groups or at the park on a random Tuesday afternoon.
Even if most of the stay-at-home moms I knew looked differently, why didn’t I hear more of their voices or see their comments on social media when the world was demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor?
I couldn’t help but notice the deafening silence of this particular band of mothers when it came to issues of racial and social justice. Did they not care? Were they too afraid to speak up? Did it matter that people were literally marching shoulder to shoulder in streets across America shouting, “Black lives matter!” Because it mattered to me.
Raising my two Black children during a time that has felt like both a reckoning and an awakening has been one of my most challenging experiences to date. I want them to feel seen and validated. I want them to be affirmed for who they are as Black children in school and in the media.
I also want them to bask in all the innocent glory of being six and four. Maybe they don’t need to know why Mommy and Daddy cried when President Joe Biden was inaugurated. Perhaps they shouldn’t have to understand the significance of the phrase “I can’t breathe.”
Working to dismantle systemic racism as a Black stay-at-home mother, who believes in the dangers of COVID-19, has felt unbelievably lonely.
I know my mental health has suffered. The work often feels too heavy. Between supporting my son’s virtual schooling and managing the big emotions of a little girl longing for friendship and outside, I struggle to process all that is happening in the world around me.
But so much is happening. The rallying cries for anti-racist education, racial and social justice, decent and diligent leaders are too loud to ignore.
And moms, whether we work inside or outside of the home, can play such a crucial role in propelling this movement for a better, more just world, forward. Mothers—women—are the backbone of any society. We are the innovators and trailblazers. We can set the tone for what we expect from our leaders as we advocate for ending childhood poverty, fighting food insecurities, insisting our schools embrace anti-racist pedagogy.
But we cannot and should not work in isolation.
And what does this work look like?
It looks like speaking up on behalf of a child who does not look or sound like your own.
It looks like extending an invitation to a mom who may not already be in your social circle. Listen to her story. Validate her experience. Commit to learning more about something you don’t already know.
It looks like getting out of our own comfort zones and challenging the status quo. Sure it’s easy to remain insulated in our personal bubbles, but we grow so much more when we step into someone else’s world—even for just a moment—and see things from her point of view.
Motherhood can leave the best of us feeling lost and a bit untethered, not to mention the loneliness of those middle of the night feedings or colossal toddler (or big kid) tantrums.
Being a stay-at-home mother of color during a global pandemic and national racial reckoning has left me struggling to find my people.
But I have to believe there are more of us out there. More moms like me.
And maybe we can work alongside each other together—even while we’re still physically alone.
We need each other. I need you.