The Single-Mom Struggle

Erin Patrice O'Brien/Stone+/Getty Images
Erin Patrice O'Brien/Stone+/Getty Images

Reflecting in a piece for Ebony about the case of Shelly Frey, a desperate single mother who was killed for petty shoplifting in Wal-Mart, Josie Pickens laments the extra burden that she says too many black women are forced to bear.

… I sit here with two degrees, a talent I am blessed to be able to earn with, and multiple streams of income. Yet I am, like many women I know, a few steps above destitution. My days are consumed with negotiating plans to make ends meet, calendaring events for my daughter's academic and extra-curricular activities, and developing a blueprint that will bring me through that day with my sanity in tact.  I'm doing it alone and it's hard. This is the story I tell the young women I mentor, and the young women in my own family.

As I spoke with a girlfriend the other day about her hardships and single mommy blues — the delayed child support, how much winter coats cost this season, why many Black men somehow believe that throwing money (sometimes) and visiting their children (sometimes) make them good fathers and a community that doesn't tell those men to do better but tells us constantly to, our own yearnings to have moments for ourselves but the lack of space and time to do so, and the price of groceries — I say something that even I was shocked to hear.

"How can we prepare our daughters for this?" I asked her. The first thing I tell young women is that they don't have to become mothers, that there is a world out there with endless possibilities and that mothering doesn't HAVE to be on the list …

Read Josie Pickens' entire piece at Ebony.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff. 


Josie Pickens is an educator, culture critic and griot whose work focuses primarily on race and gender. Follow her musings on Twitter

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