Yes, I’m An African-American Woman and Single Mom…But I’m More Than Just A Statistic | Epic Mommy Adventures

Yes, I’m An African-American Woman and Single Mom…But I’m More Than Just A Statistic

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StatisticThe other day while at work while driving off to sleep at my desk at work (hey, it happens to all of us at some point!), a woman that I work with (we work at the same company, but we don’t work in the same department) had a peculiar question for me:  “Don’t you feel weird being a statistic?”

What do you mean? I asked.

Well being an African-American woman, and a single mom. Don’t you feel weird fitting into that statistic? she questioned.

The precursor to the question was a series of rambling statements, explaining that she was curious and didn’t want to offend me and that she hopes that we can still be friends after she asked me the question.  I must admit, I had a moment where I just wanted to snap, but I looked into her eyes and could genuinely see that she was interested in knowing.  She wasn’t coming from a place of malice or disrespect, or even pity. She genuinely wanted to know.

I realized that for a number of reasons, I wanted to share my story with her. When I made the decision to leave my son’s father, I questioned myself about the same thing – people looking at me like I’m just a statistic. No one knew my situation, nor my experiences, but I felt that I would still be viewed as a statistic. Although there are more Caucasian families in single-parent households (over 12 million Caucasian households vs 5 million African-American households), more than 60% of African-American families are single-parent households. And more than 80% of the total African American single-parent households were headed by single moms. These statistics are staggering…

So I used her question as a learning opportunity…

Well, don’t you feel weird fitting into your statistic? I asked.

Huh? What do you mean? She looked completely confused, and that was my goal.

Don’t you feel weird falling into the category of the statistic of Caucasian woman, married with 2 1/2 kids, living in a beautiful house in the suburbs, etc. (No disrespect to anyone that is experiencing this – just wanted to make a point.) I’m not judging you or your experiences, but how do you feel about being in that statistic?

She pondered the question for a moment, opened her mouth once or twice…and finally I could see the understanding come over her face. She got it…

Well, my experiences are far from typical…I’m more than just a statistic. She was fully understanding where I was coming from.

Exactly! Yes, I’m an African-American woman, and yes, I’m a single mom. Regardless of my situation and my experiences, I am still in that statistic. In some ways, the economy almost expects it from me. But I am so much more than a statistic…I’m a loving mom, ambitious working professional, graduate student, friend, daughter, and so much more. My son is surrounded by love and affection, and although it is expected for him to have social, mental, and emotional issues because he was raised by a single mom, I only see a well-rounded, brilliant little boy. I am at every school event, participate in every program, spend time reading with him every night, using every opportunity as an educational one, expose him to cultural and diverse experiences, and provide him with love and support at every turn. So to answer your question – do I feel weird fitting into that statistic? Nope, because I am that and so much more.

We spent the next hour talking about all things relationship and parenting. She talked about her family, and I talked about my son. We even talked about how we were each equally exhausted raising young children (aren’t we all??!!).  She eventually confessed that after almost 15 years, she was considering divorcing her husband. Her kids were only 5 and 2, and she seriously didn’t think she could do it on her own.  I didn’t give her an opinion either way because although I love being a single mom, I would not recommend it to anyone! I only advised her that she should make the choice that she feels would be best for her and her kids, whatever that decision is.  I think that was what opened up the conversation in the first place and she needed someone to talk to about her concerns. Luckily, though, she had asked the right person. I am more than happy to answer the questions of curious and interested people, because honestly, you will never learn anything unless you ask the question.

So single moms…don’t be just a statistic. Be more than that. Be the best mom that you can for your child. Don’t worry about what people think or say or feel about you being a single mom. Live better each day for your children. Show them the love and support that they need to become successful and happy.

How would you have responded if asked the same question?

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About Natasha

Hi, I'm Natasha! I'm a 30-something Program Manager and blogger at Epic Mommy Adventures. Most importantly, I'm a single mom to my adorable son, who drives me nuts in one moment and melts my heart in the next. I enjoy sharing our epic stories, giving advice to other single moms, and sharing my co-parenting woes. I also share blog hops, giveaways, product reviews, and so much more. Join the fun!

Comments

  1. Wonderful share loved it!!! So glad you turned the tables on her!

  2. Hello Natasha, well I must say you handled that question a LOT better than I would have. I don’t understand how your co-worker thought posing the question in that way was ok. Good for you for turning it around, sometimes people really need to THINK before they speak. I am a single mom of two and find it infuriating that society sometimes sees us as these wayward creatures that need to be researched and labeled. Again good for you handling it the way you did. Educating is key.

    • I am honestly still very surprised by my response, because usually I have no patience nor tolerance for things like that. But it was really her face that told me that she was asking out of curiosity that made me take a different turn with my response. And I am happy that I was able to educate someone that us single parents are not these wayward creatures. We are people too, just working hard to take care of our families just like everyone else! Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Okay, as “innocent” as it may have been the way she started the conversation was tacky as hell. Who starts a sentence with “How does it feel to be a statistic?”. How about asking questions about being a single mother instead of bringing up what race you are. GAH!

    Anyway, given I’m white with a mixed race son I get inappropriate questions from all sides. From white people it’s why did you even “mess with a black dude”. As if he was just some guy I randomly hooked up for the thrill of it. and From black people “how do I plan to raise a black man being a white mother”. And all I can say to that is if Obamas mother could do it- so can I. Then again it isn’t about raising him to be a race, it’s about raising him to be kind, respectful, and hopefully God fearing.

    But aside from racial BS, I agree with you completely. Just because a person is a single mom, doesn’t mean they are living in poverty or unhappy. Just like you I made sure to degree, land a good job, be very active in his education, and I do my best to be as hands on as attentive as possible. There are times where I think “oh it’d be nice to have someone to share this with”, but more often then not I’m perfectly content with it just being the two of us.

    • Thanks for the comment Emily! The conversation was definitely very difficult to have, especially the way it started. I’ve learned in the weeks that have followed that she doesn’t really know how to talk to people, so now I’m not so completely shocked by how the conversation started.

      I completely agree with you – it’s all about raising our kids to be kind, respectful, and God-fearing. But race always comes up, whether we want it to or not. It’s sad, but true.

      Every now and then, I also think to myself that it would be nice to be in a relationship and share in the joys of parenthood with someone, but I’m just enjoying life at the moment with just the two of us. Maybe one day it will happen, maybe one day it won’t, but either way, I’ll be happy.

      Thanks for your amazing comment! I really appreciate it!

  4. It was very uplifting reading this blog. I am currently on my way to being a single mom, and sadly, I stayed in a toxic relationship with my husband as long as I did because I did not want to be stigmatized by the statistic of being a single African-American mom. it has been very difficult, but I know that my two boys will be happier because I am going to do this my way. I have been feeling extremely lonely and unsure of how to approach raising two boys, so I appreciate all of the words of encouragement and advice.

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed this post, Melissa. It’s hard raising boys as a single mom in general, but it’s even harder when you’re an African-American single woman and mom. You’re instantly perceived as a statistic – poverty’stricken, abusive, and unable to raise young black men. It’s sad but true. However, we are so much more than just that. You and I are proof that we are willing to do everything possible for our children and make sure that they are in the best position possible. Be strong – trust in your ability to raise your children as strong men, and that you’ll be able to thrive regardless of the circumstances. Wishing you the utmost best – feel free to reach out to me at 1epicmommy@gmail.com if you want tot talk. 🙂

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