Founder Fridays: Baby Mama Badges, All Moms are Single? and World AIDS Day.

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Welcome to Founder Fridays
with Stacia L. Brown

It’s been a fantastic week for BeyondBabyMamas.com. We kicked off our Community Blogger Series this week with three compelling, thought-provoking, and informative posts by three mothers from our online community. If you haven’t had the chance to take a look at them, perhaps you’ll have time to check them out this weekend.

Mother of two Damali Robertson chronicled her road to reconciliation with her daughter’s father, after years of holding onto rage about past hurt and rocking a Baby Mama Badge of Honor:

Why did I have to the peacemaker? Besides, I had a deadbeat, sorry Baby Daddy Story to tell.  I had spent years standing on my high horse and “repping” hard for all the other Baby Mamas. My cousin sarcastically labeled me the President of Baby Mamas of America. He and I laughed at the title, but I kinda liked it. It meant I was right and my Baby Daddy was wrong. That felt good and right!

In the end, Robertson’s wonderfully honest and candid piece makes a case for personal accountability and forgiveness.

*  *  *

Writer and mother of one son k l moore offered her assertion that all mothers should consider themselves “single mothers,” for they alone bear the primary responsibility of the intricate and delicate work of birthing and/or 24-hour-a-day, non-stop mothering their children:

you are 100% responsible for being momma.

mom.

mommy.

not father.

umi.

you, by your uterine lonesome. and should you have a partner, or husband, you are still the lone she wolf who carries her whelps betwixt her teeth.

don’t get it twisted.

Often former single mothers and divorced mothers do feel that the heft of parenthood falls squarely on their shoulders. Even with a partner willing to help shoulder the burden, it’s hard work relinquishing the decision-making power that was once yours alone.

In the case of blended families, there’s also the complex negotiation of discipline between biological parent and non-biological parent. When we hear of a stepparent “raising a child as his own,” what does this entail for each family? Does the mother still feel singularly responsible for her biological child in a way her new husband cannot? Does the divorced mother with primary or sole custody feel like her ex is as engaged in the parenting process as she is?

Though so many mothers have a measure of help from new and former partners/co-parents, it’s hard to shake the idea that you’re raising a child alone — or that, in the event that circumstances suddenly change — you should be prepared to do so with zero notice.

*  *  *

We’re also proud of today’s Community Blogger piece by T. Hammel of Parenting One by One, who explains her journey as a single mother by choice and offers her great suggestions to friends of single mothers on how to be supportive. Our favorite tip? Offering to take the whole single-parent family on an outing, rather than offering to watch the child so the single mom can “get a break.”

Sometimes, single mothers don’t want a “break from their children”; they simply want help entertaining them, managing their needs, and splitting the tab during family outings.

*  *  *

Our Community Blogger Series is ongoing, and we’d love it if you shared your experiences as a single parent of color or as an adult who was raised by one. If you’re interested in writing for us, visit our submission guidelines post.

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Finally, tomorrow December 1 is World AIDS Day, and Beyond Baby Mamas would be remiss if we didn’t emphasize the importance of mothers — especially single mothers of color — educating themselves about HIV and AIDS, not just for themselves but for their children. According to the CDC:

In 2008, 4,796 (28%) of the estimated 17,374 persons with a diagnosis of HIV infection who died in the 40 states and 5 US dependent areas were women. Deaths attributed to HIV among women of color are disproportionately high: from 2000–2007, HIV infection was among the top 10 leading causes of death for black females aged 10–54 and Hispanic/Latina females aged 15–54.

Emphasis on the ages is ours. Note how young black and Latina girls are dying as a result of HIV infection. Note that HIV infection was a top ten leading cause of deaths for those young demographics as recently as 2007.

It is a loving, essential, and revolutionary act to talk to your child about HIV/AIDS whether they’ve made the decision to be sexually active or not. It is equally vital that single mothers who are calculating the costs of becoming sexually active with new partners assume proactive roles in safeguarding their health.

The same tips you provide to your children are the ones you’ll need to take for yourself:

  1. Before you become sexually active with a new partner, discuss your sexual history, including any STIs and STDs. Be candid. Leave no stone unturned. While disclosing the details of your sexual history can be terrifying and can leave you feeling vulnerable, it’s equally terrifying for a sexual partner to be left in the dark and it makes him/her equally vulnerable. Disclosure before sex may result in the end of a potentially promising relationship, but it will never result in you being accused of dishonesty or of being reckless with a partner’s health. If you’ll lose someone as a result of being upfront, it’s better for both of you to know what’s at stake sooner than later. Your ideal relationship partner will stand by you, regardless of your status–and if he/she is well-informed, he/she can be of greater support to you as you build your relationship.
  2. Don’t just take a partner’s word for his/her clean bill of health. Check those results. It may even be useful to get tested together and exchange your results at the same time.
  3. Carry your own contraception.
  4. If you’re advocating for abstinence with your children and they’re committed to abstaining, it’s still important to communicate with them about sexual health and contraception. If your child ever intends to marry, he/she will still need to have informed and highly personal conversations with his or her potential spouse. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “Many sexually experienced teens (46% of males and 33% of females) do not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first have sex.”
  5. Research the facts before relaying them to your children. The Guttmacher Institute also informs, “Even when parents provide information, their knowledge about contraception or other sexual health topics may often be inaccurate or incomplete.” Know your stuff.
  6. If you are already living with HIV, it is imperative that you share not just your status with new partners, but also your needs. He/she should be aware of the various ways — no matter how minimal or major — in which your HIV status could potentially impact your relationship.
  7. If you know for a fact that your teen is sexually active but has not been tested, offer to go with him/her and get tested yourself, even if you aren’t sexually active.

Have a safe and loving weekend. We care. We’re here. And we applaud you.

With hope and admiration,

Stacia L. Brown, Founder

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