Black Mothers are drowning and self care is not the answer
Self care seems to be the rave and hot topic lately. Almost every major blog or website is talking about self care being the answer to many mommy problems. Somehow long baths, mani and pedis after a long day of work and/or parenting is what every mom needs to restore balance. Timelines are flooded with “advice” for those of us who are drowning in large amounts of stress, pressure and expectations.
The thing is self care doesn’t work! Now don’t get me wrong as a SAHM I love the evenings and early mornings while my kids are asleep. The stillness is amazing and does wonders. Taking baths and getting my nails done definitely relaxes me for however long they take to be completed. Self care can definitely restore the calmness that we may need for the moment. But once you set foot back into mothering, that bath doesn’t matter, those pretty nails mean nothing while you submerge them in soapy dish water and your toddler is crying for a cup of water. Self care is a temporary solution to a big problem.
Women are drowning because they lack support systems. They lack family willing to help. They lack partnerships that allow them adequate time to decompress from being a mom. Most of self care is done as an after thought. It’s done after you cook the kids dinner, after you get the kids in bed, after, after, after you do everything for everyone else.
The days of dropping your children off at your grandparents mid day to take a nap, grocery shop or just lay down are long gone. Many black grandparents work full time jobs and aren’t retired by the time they become grandparents. Many grandparents don’t even want to help or offer their children a break from parenting. And in 2019 many black mothers are deciding to sever relationships with toxic grandparents. We aren’t accepting abuse in the name of tough love, thus leaving many of us without a “village”. We then have to create them on our own. Finding families and friends we trust can be a task for some and some cultivate them easily. Some of us don’t find that village or decide to do without one.
Self care is never going to take the place of what we need. We NEED support systems more than we need baths, and manicures. Support systems allow for mothers to just take a break without having to do everything for everyone else before she can care for herself.
By all means self care is much needed especially after a long day. A village is needed so you can get a whole 24 hours off without worrying about the safety or well being of your child(ren). The mental load and emotional labor of parenting is something that has always been meant for more than one person. Mothers are not meant to be everything to everyone and doing so is killing us.