The Black stay-at-home mom. It’s a role I actually saw in action as a kid, but I never imagined it was a role that could potentially feel lonely and lack inclusion.
Here I am in the heart of suburbia. My local Target is a luxury car dealership on mom steroids. We are one of the only households of color in my neighborhood and I would bet money on me being one of the youngest moms when we moved to my area almost six years ago.
As I nestled into our new home and I became fully engulfed in the stay-at-home mom culture, I uncovered an interesting, hidden feeling that I didn’t realize would exist.
Lack of inclusion.
I noticed this immediately as I walked my daughter to school equipped with my coffee in hand, North Face jacket and black leggings. I anxiously approached the other moms chatting on the corner with their coffees, ready to exchange contact information, become good friends, meet for cocktails and brunch dates. To my surprise, as I approached, they began to walk ahead, leaving my daughter and me behind in an effort to catch up. Let’s not even begin to talk about the playground chats at the park, extracurricular activities, etc. Most times, you are left sitting alone and not invited into the “mom section.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my neighborhood and my neighbors. However, I am reminded that we are not one and the same. You see, being a Black SAHM typically suggests that you are in between employment or you’re a welfare recipient. Having a husband that has a salary that covers the home, well, that seemingly just can’t be the case.
It’s OK. I can roll with the punches. However, it’s not really OK.
The lack of inclusion is staggering. I have been asked, “Are those your kids?” or “Do you do hair?” or “Do you need a waiver for registration fees?” or “Are you sure you are at the right school (as I was trying to register my daughters)?” Oh, and this one, “That’s EBT, right?”
Nevertheless, I hold my head high. I enter spaces because I feel I belong there. I don’t look to blend in, rather show up as my whole self, leaving not one thing about me behind. In these spaces I am typically the only African-American, or one of five in a room.
It’s a lot to carry.
I represent an underrepresented population, and it’s kind of a big deal. So, for those who think that my life has been “whitewashed” by where I live, I stand humbly to remind you what my representation in the room means for all other Black women that are looking to come over to this side of the pond.
I show up! I show up even if I am not wanted. I show up because it is critical for my family. I show up because being silenced, well, I am not a fan of.
Moving forward, when you see a Black mama who happens to be a SAHM, don’t treat her as if she doesn’t belong. She’s where she needs to be unapologetically. She loves her children, her decision to stay home is just that and she is not the nanny (yes, I have experienced this).
We are not in between jobs or a welfare recipient. We are mothers.
We are not “whitewashed” with no sense of self awareness about our own culture or position in society. We are mothers.
We are to be respected and treated with the same ethos as our counterparts in the community. We demand inclusion.
Ericka L. Polanco Webb is a mom of five, a special needs advocate, doctoral candidate focusing on Strategic Leadership and Innovation at Concordia University Chicago and the woman behind the website and social media brand, Sinking Heels Of Motherhood.
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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s July 2020 magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.