Homemaker, Inc: Why Don’t More Black Moms Stay Home?

November 18, 2011  |  

For as long as many of us can remember, we have seen the black women in our families work. Some scrubbing the toilets of other families, while others labored long, stressful office hours. Before it was the only way; most women had no choice. Becoming a homemaker-breadwinner hybrid, or superwoman, was the only option.

Thank God for giving us the strength and endurance to be more than we could ever imagine.

While white women used the feminist movement and education to get out of the home, black women have been searching for ways to stay inside. In our community it is a luxury to stay at home, an opportunity few black families can afford—whether it’s for lack of finances or a second parent.

Furthermore, there is also an underlying notion that being a housewife somehow diminishes one’s value, a belief that modern homemakers (particularly suburbanistas) are lazily wasting away their talents and academic achievements. It’s the place where traditional (or white) feminism and black womanhood conflict. But the rise of “mommy bloggers” and mompreneurs, such as Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price (who scheduled business hours around her family), are proof that there are benefits to being “kept,” and stay-at-homes moms are indeed utilizing their assets. Oftentimes, in more ways than they once did in the workplace.

Still, the decision to stay home is an internal struggle, as our hearts and minds pull us in different directions. Naturally, we want to be there for our children; we want to be present for every first and “complain” about the perils of carpooling. But, in the back of our minds, we also feel as if we will lose our independence in doing so.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for nearly three years and, in the beginning, my journey was one of isolation and confusion. Although most would attribute that to the percentage of unmarried black women, that was not the case at all, having the benefit of growing up with a stay-at-home mom, for me, this sort of self-sacrifice is normal if not ideal. Nevertheless, I also pride myself in being a smart, ambitious woman. So, when other women would give me that look in conversations or say things like, “But, you’re so smart,” I questioned my decision. In fact, at one point, I started interviewing again—thinking that was the way to be all-woman.  And, during those interviews I realized I could never leave my children to help make someone else rich. It was also during that time I began to understand the window of opportunity I had. My decision to stay at home ultimately gave way for me to pursue my dreams; it was liberating. Now, as an entrepreneur, I have the best of both worlds. My three-year-old is reading and work revolves around my schedule.

So, if you’ve been considering trading in your corner office for a cozy place in the kitchen, remember there is great freedom in being the Mommy-in-Chief, and you may actually find yourself in a place of greater independence.

LaShaun Williams is a Madame Noire contributor and columnist whose work has appeared in the New York Times and across several popular sites, such as HuffPost Black Voices and the Grio.  Follow her on Twitter @itsmelashaun and Facebook.

 

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