BIG NEWS: The Single Black Mom blog, which covers topics, reviews products and offers support for single moms, has recently acquired http://www.TheSingleMomClub.com and will hosts events geared toward single moms around the country.
Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant are capitalizing on the life and times of single moms. On their new Life Class, the duo speak with single mothers raising fatherless sons, and help them to overcome the challenges of being an only parent. Expert Roland Warren, from the National Fatherhood Initiative, joins the conversation about this crisis, which affects more than 10 million women in the United States.
Together, they think they are addressing the three things every single mother must know, discuss the importance of emotional relationships between children and their fathers, and share the best ways to support sons struggling with feelings of pain and anger, but sometimes it feels they spend too much time ignoring Single Black Moms.
The White single mom and celebrity single mom just are not the same as the real single mom, most of who happen to be Black.
To prove this point, consider the article written by one White single mom who attended the taping described it like this: “I was a friend’s guest for the taping of Oprah’s Life Class, with Iyanla Vanzant. The topic was “Single Moms,” so, I was a fit.
I have struggled with what I want to say about my experience. Just underneath the fun of “out of the ordinary”-ness, and the splendid time spent with one of my favorite new friends, my truth about the experience feels a little scary to share because, well, it’s Oprah y’all. And I live in Chicago. She’s a Beacon of Light to so many people, and it is hard to say anything negative about someone held in such high regard by so many, myself included.
But I promised myself I would find a way to write my truth, even if it is uncomfortable. I promised myself I would be honest, even at the risk of ruffling some feathers. I promised myself I would always aim for the bullseye of kindness with my words. And just this morning, I made the decision to (TRY TO) keep the language rated PG-13. No promises…But this is uncomfortable. Because my day at the Oprah taping left me with a sadness that is still wringing its hands, even today.
The topic of the show was “issues facing single moms today.” And it became clear, very quickly, that not all single mom experiences are created equal. I have a very amicable 50-50 split of time and money with my ex. The venom has evaporated. (sure, there’s an occasional flare-up here and there, but the ball is never dropped where our kid is concerned).
The show’s entry point was “guilt and shame,” which generated a rather joyless conversation about the single mom experience. The dialogue swept all the proverbial crap out from under the bed, and then we collectively stared at the big pile on the floor in the middle of the room. The intention seemed to be to create bonds between women over some super unfortunate scenarios in which the exes were not so kind, or gracious, or even present in their child’s life.
The intention seemed to be to move women through some common sticking points (in a rather dramatic fashion).
The intention seemed to be to sell someone’s book. (We did not go home with a free copy…)
Let’s face it: the day was about making a television show.
To me, the spirituality felt uneven, random, even slightly dangerous. The ideology felt cherry picked, with loopholes that allowed for a little “mean” to sneak out disguised as strength.
Tyler Perry was considered an “expert” on a single parenting panel by proxy, having just made a movie with “Single Moms” in the title. (To her credit, actress Nia Long did have some valuable personal experience to share with women in similar situations. But even those credentials felt a bit casual to be offered up in a “Master Class.”)
Women shared insanely personal moments that were then wrestled to the ground in an entirely too public forum for my comfort level. At times I could only look down at my shoes. (Which were, hands down, the least fancy pair in the room)
I found it hard to stay in the muck for so long. From the beginning of my “single” journey, I have craved Onward. I have fought like mad to shake off all that Old Stuff so I didn’t bring it with me into the New Stuff.
At one point during the show, I wanted to stand up, pump my fist in the air and scream, “BEING A SINGLE MOM RULES!! MY HOUSE, MY RULES! NO ONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO! BLAMMO!!”
I doubt it would have gone over well, as there was a tone being set. A specific momentum. (A Mom-entum? Stahp!!)
But here’s that happy ending I promised: Once I regained my balance, and lifted my head eyes up from my shoes towards the truly beautiful souls around me…I saw people being touched by what we were witnessing. I saw a group of people moving through something together. The tweets of audience members being projected on the walls were brimming with heartfelt gratitude.
It worked for them.
So I held my clenched, icy fists up to the warmth emanating from the women around me, and before long my sour judgment melted. Underneath the chill of my detachment was a genuine happiness for those around me having what seemed to be a most profound experience.
I am still saddened and surprised by the amount of guilt and shame I heard expressed by so many single moms. Shame at having “failed” at their relationship. (Whaddaya mean “failed??” In my book it feels more like a “Victory” to have wriggled out from under the dead weight of such brokenness!)
But to cast a net of spiritual superiority across the room? Not cool. So now guilt and shame are “greater than” rage? Isolation? Pride? Loneliness? Mmmkay, Ms Kettle…
So here, finally, are my life lesson learned in Monday’s Lifeclass: If it ain’t your battle, stay off the battlefield. Not everything is about you.”