Written by Penelope Farthing
Coronavirus has thrust the world into a panic that has not been seen in recent times. Schools from kindergarten to Ivy League have shut their doors, to help reduce the spread, and it’s still early days. What happens next remains to be seen, but if the shelves in grocery stores worldwide is any indication, people are scared. Or, hopefully, this is all a massive overreaction and everything we did flattened the curve and we will look back on this terrifying part of 2020 that we overcame.
For many, with these school closures come difficulties in housing and feeding their children, and some states are more severely impacted than others. Even without a big scary virus making its way through the lungs of the population, motherhood in general is a difficult task. Black motherhood adds another level of difficulty – between single parent homes, a small or absent support network, and economic disparities, there are some unique challenges that black mothers face. Not everyone has the luxury of working from home, such as those in the restaurant and health industries. And unfortunately, these challenges will be exacerbated and brought to the surface in the next few weeks, or longer if COVID-19 happens to linger. As such, I wanted to point out some childcare tips that both mothers and non-mothers alike should know, especially if there are constraints around the support system, finances, or something else.
Understandably this is a bold statement. I don’t have children, and every day some horrible news story breaks that makes me want to switch from childless to childfree. But not because I don’t have children means that I, or anyone else, wants to take on that burden. Sure, in a pinch I can help with your child(ren). But, I will be compensated for my time and energy put into it. Nothing in this life is free, and to expect people, even your loved ones, to turn up for you with no compensation is unfair.
It takes a village, sure, but if the village didn’t have a say in the birth of that baby, or even warned against it, the village may actually turn on you. Your mother and grandmother already did their job raising children. They should not be assumed, or expected, to have to do it all over again with yours. With this mentality, is it any wonder that so many grandmothers, who spent their lives giving to everybody, don’t even get to enjoy retirement because the stress took her out at 66 and she keeled over from a stroke?
As an example: Here is a video that made some waves last year, where a grandmother broke it all the way down on why even her own daughter is not entitled to her babysitting services. What looked like premie or very recently born twins were also in the video.
A boyfriend, no matter how much he says he loves you, and dotes on your kids, is not a babysitter. How many times have we heard about little girls and boys molested or murdered at the hands of the “boyfriend” who was left in charge? Isn’t it a known phenomenon that many males select single mothers as potential partners so they can gain inappropriate access to children? Off the top of my head I remember the cases of Maleah Davis and Zymere Perkins, two children murdered by their mother’s boyfriends in particularly horrific ways. There are many more, with each case growing more gruesome and twisted. Do not subject your child to potential abuse by any means, which means not letting your small children stay alone with your boyfriend.
You know how around this time of year, all these “tax experts” start advertising with little street signs claiming to get you thousands upon thousands back for your refund? Could it be true? Maybe. But is that the likeliest or best outcome? Probably not. I expect something like that to happen with daycare; let me explain. As mothers become more desperate, people with both good and bad intentions will seek to turn a profit, and offer “Coronavirus daycare services” for moms who can’t get off work during these closures.
Personally, I don’t trust anybody without a biological tie to a child to care for said child. Even those who do have biological ties can be just as evil as strangers – case in point, the astronomical child sexual abuse by relatives in our community. So, if you see those pop-up signs scrawled in Sharpie advertising daycare services out of someone’s house that wasn’t there three days ago, walk on by because the risk is simply not worth it.
Did you know that some states have legal ages that a child can be left alone? The ages vary between six (please don’t leave your 6-year-old unattended) and 14. Obviously as children enter the teenage years they can more or less fend for themselves. It’s the under 13s that will be difficult. Do not risk getting jailed for neglect by leaving your children home alone while you work your shift, even if they’re “mature for their age”.
In a similar vein to the above, “what’s the worst that could happen?” is just awful as far as strategies go. Sure, there is a limited number of ways a reasonably mature 11-year-old could get into trouble if left unsupervised. And yet, the worst that could happen could come to pass, and the repercussions of taking a chance, even if it seems small at the time, could lead to damaging consequences for both parent and child.
I’ve seen news stories of babies and small children dying from being given Benadryl, often at unlicensed daycares. Giving a child a sedating medication just to quiet them down or any non-prescribed purpose is evil, period. Benadryl or other sleep aids is not in any way, shape, or form a substitute for proper adult supervision. Not because they would be asleep means they wouldn’t be in danger. Please do not ever consider this as any kind of option. Additionally, if you suspect this might have happened, please report the daycare to the relevant authorities.
Kendall often makes reference to “sticking an IUD up your ass” when it comes to family planning. If you’re not into the IUD, there are many other birth control options you can consider to prevent unwanted pregnancies. If this wave of school closures has thrown you for a loop with only one or two kids, adding more will only make everything more difficult. Practicing family planning by using effective, reliable birth control is one way to prevent making tough decisions even tougher. Adding another mouth to feed will not rekindle your romance, fix your relationship, or encourage your man to stay. If babies are all truly blessings, then bless them before their conception by bringing them into the world in the most ideal circumstance you can.
Ultimately this is what boils down to. Millions of moms of every race, age, and station will be sacrificing something because of this virus that is railroading the hell out of everything right now. It might be a year’s worth of vacation days if they are lucky enough to have them. Or, it could be their peace of mind as they struggle to find a way to safely care for their school-aged kids without losing her job. For grandparents or other relatives, it could be the time they had planned to do other activities, their limited funds, or even their vacation days because they’re still working too.
Because many black Americans work in fields that do not offer decent benefits, the shuttering of schools will be a blow to many families, single mothers worst of all. But even during crisis it is supremely important to think critically and creatively so that the best possible outcome is achieved.
I am not saying these things to be scary or shame anyone. The facts are that it is a dangerous time out there for adults, let alone defenseless children. With each passing day more unpredictable than the last, parents, especially single mothers, need to consider strategies that keep them employed and keep their children safe. Perhaps getting a group of parents you know personally together to discuss options (over the phone, to maintain social distancing) is something you do now. Start applying to some work from home jobs. A part of being a good mother is putting the needs of your child first. A job will always be there. A happy, healthy, mentally well child can be compromised in an instant. It is your job as your child’s mother to protect her/him from the evils of the world, even if the world is devolving into a state of chaos.
And remember, always have a plan.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Penelope, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.