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We Spoke With Black Mothers About How COVID-19 Is Affecting Their Families

The sudden shutdown of schools across the country, coupled with grocery store shelves being bare, has made the COVID-19 pandemic a difficult time for parents.

If they have the opportunity, many mothers are working from home during the quarantine. While others are displaced or dealing with a lack of childcare and are trying their best to remain optimistic in the face of this crisis.

As a mother, I am especially aware of what this pandemic means for moms. While I worked from home yesterday, my mother and sister went to several grocery stores to gather food and other necessities. They FaceTimed me so that I could see how empty the freezers were at Walmart. They also struggled to find water and toilet paper.

I knew that other moms were having experiences somewhat similar to mine, so we spoke with five young, Black mothers to ask them to share what life in this pandemic has been like for them.

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–Melaika Campbell, mother of 1

After hearing schools were closing, all I could think about was the preschool where I work [becoming] overpopulated and out of ratio, [how] there were no new safety precautions put in place [and how] everything was closing around me and I had no answers for anxious parents.

[Last] Thursday night, I waited for two hours at the grocery store. On Friday, I was asked to sign a form stating I that realized coming to work was at my own risk. [Monday morning,] I made the call to stay in with my daughter because an outbreak occurred near my place of employment. I was informed that my co-workers would be sent home early. Since child care workers don’t have work from home options, I’m staying optimistic that this is an opportunity to start other endeavors. I have no idea when I should return to work or what will happen with my pay. Instead of adding to the fear, I’m just going to load up on supplements and search for work from home opportunities.

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DeJane Robinson, mother of 2

I live in Los Angeles and have two babies, Mars, who is 5 months old, and Asher, who is 2 1/2. L.A. is super dirty, so I’ve always been cautious in regards to germs…

Luckily for me, I work in the building that I live in, so instead of being in the leasing office this week and meeting with vendors, tenants, and prospective tenants, I’ve been working from home on my computer in an effort to practice social distancing for the health and safety of my family.

COVID-19 has made it harder in L.A. to find food for my family. Like many places across America, people are freaking out….I went to the grocery store two days ago and all of the meat was gone, all the Lysol wipes and spray were wiped out. Thankfully, I was able to find stuff I wouldn’t normally feed my family on a regular basis, like canned foods vs. fresh. The quality of the food I have in my house has definitely been compromised because we’ve kind of had to grab whatever we can find at this point.

The L.A. school district has closed schools for the next two weeks. A lot of parents depend on free breakfast and lunch from schools, and now have to figure out how they are going to feed their kids who normally wouldn’t be home during the day. It’s rough out here man.

It is extremely overwhelming to have so much information regarding COVD-19 coming at me at once. I found myself getting anxious last night. Everyone has an opinion and of course, this is all everyone is talking about. My main focus is to make sure I continue to be as clean as possible and make the best decisions I can to protect my family and my household. I sure hope this blows over soon because this has affected every aspect of everyone’s lives, especially the moms out here. 

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–Mila Powell, mother of 2

I’m a disabled homeschooling mom who has been experiencing displacement since last year. COVID-19 has made it much more difficult to get freelance graphic design work.

I was saving up to move us into a safe home and that has been postponed indefinitely. While my kids haven’t had the major change of having to come out [of] school, now we can’t even go to the library or museums, places that enrich their learning experience and our lives in general. My ability to go to necessary doctor appointments and safely shop for things we need have been affected as well. I’ve been fortunate to receive funds from my online community which I’m so thankful for. I’m not sure how long it will last us, everything is so up in the air.

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–Roz Veal, mother of 1

COVID-19 didn’t really hit me until I realized that while my child was out of school, I was still forced to sit behind a desk for a company that really didn’t care about my safety or health. While mentally digesting that, I still had to focus on doing my job because with motherhood there are sacrifices, and with this “adult life” there’s bills.

[Because of work,] communication with my child and her father has been very hard, harder than I thought because as a mother you want to be there supporting your children through this.

Texting my 3rd grader yesterday during work hours asking her how was her virtual quiz went wasn’t really ideal. But the reply “It was amazing, I got a 32/32, zero wrong,” put me at ease because, through this, she’s focused and encouraged.

All and all I am doing my best to stay present through this. [I’m] mentally checking on myself when needed, practicing self-care and not letting things stress me out. I am communicating a lot with my loved ones and just seeing this for what it is — a momentary stillness.

My thoughts and prayers are with those single Black mothers who have to call out of work because they don’t have the proper child care, families that don’t have laptops and computers in their homes, those without child care expenses and emergency funds, and those have been forced to leave their jobs due to this shift. We will get through this, together.

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Wanna Thompson, mother of 1

Being a mother during this pandemic has been a huge challenge for me. Yes, I’m still able to WFH (work from home) and receive an income, but watching my 6-year-old Zuri and still having to complete my daily responsibilities has been a task within itself. The beauty of my job is that I work in social media and marketing. I’m able to work from home and still have access to the materials needed to complete my job, but when you have a kid interrupting you every few minutes while you’re trying to meet deadlines, it could drive anyone crazy.

Yes, I work from home at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gotten any easier. I still have to make sure my child is up by a certain time and completes her morning routine, so I can get on with my day but unlike her being at school, I have turned into her full-time teacher. I’m supplying her with daily lessons and DIY homework to make sure she doesn’t fall behind, all the while making sure I’m present for conference calls, meetings, check-ins on Slack, and everything in between. How am I functioning right now? Only God knows.

I think one of the biggest things that I’ve been doing all week is forgetting to eat at least three times a day. I’m lucky if I even get some breakfast in my system at this point. After my WFH day is complete, I’m extremely tired and just want to take a long bath and curl up in a ball after it’s all done. But that’s not before I make my child dinner, give her a bath and ensure that she’s in bed before I get to indulge in my self-care practices.

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