Black Motherhood: Self-Care in Tense Times

By Q. Gibson

As mothers to young, Black sons and daughters—in the midst of the most recent events involving Black lives and Black men—it is imperative that we take the time to indulge in self-care.

The morning of July 6, 2016 I rolled out of bed and made my way to the living room to stretch, prepare an easy going breakfast, and check my social media accounts while my 3-year-old son slept peacefully in my bed. Before I could even pull the almond milk from the fridge, I was hit by a forceful blow that started in my stomach and ran its way up into the middle of my throat. It sat there, a stiffened lump, as I stumbled my way back to the living room to curdle myself onto the couch. The day prior a 37-year-old, Black man named Alton Sterling, was shot and killed by police. Video ran rampant across social media platforms of what was another blow to the African American community.

I sat on the couch feeling completely debilitated. I curled myself into a fetal position. How could I even think of eating right now? This. This same feeling. I felt it before. Before when I was faced with all of the other videos and the stories of Black men whose lives were lost at the hands of police. This. The same paralyzing feeling I felt the morning I learned I lost my own Black, male cousin at the hands of another Black man. Not knowing yet that the morning of July 7th would greet me with the same feeling and another life lost, Philando Castile.

As a mother to a Black male son, I have found it admittedly hard to not live in fear some days. It’s increasingly more difficult not to be paralyzed and shaken by the happenings in our society. Yet, what I know more of, is that my duty as a mother calls not only for the care of the spiritual, physical and mental wellness of my child but also myself. So today I dragged myself into work. Previously taken aback and now pulling myself together. This is not in any respect to numbness, but done in regard to pushing myself into healing when it is most needed. I read a few articles, turned on a little Leon Bridges and made up my mind not to be debilitated by these events but to find ways to fuel strength, light and a little bit of peace into myself. In this moment there are so many broken spirits, including my own, which I am so desperately trying to piece back together. There is so much energy to be refueled and starting with self-care is revolutionary.

As a mother, to see and witness loss so frequently and furiously can be a scary and light-sucking thing. Yet, in times like these self-care, meditation, vegan or clean eating, drawn baths with prayer, reading, sultry sounds of jazz and blues have kept me afloat and have given me the space to breathe in a suffocating world. Though there is much work to be done in our community, our world, and our homes, it is detrimental for us to take quality care of ourselves. Find community on or offline. Unplug. Dance and cry to a favorite tune. Cuddle your little ones until they tell you to stop. Have wine and bask in some yoga with a girlfriend. Do whatever it takes to keep your spirit alive as a mother and as a woman. Self-care is the only way we will be able to withstand these times, be well enough to positively impact our families, communities, and be HERE to create change. Even if you do not have the strength to fuel and take care of yourself, call on community. Call up a girlfriend, voice your concerns, and express your needs for restoration of mind, body and soul. Surround yourself with people who are sure to love on you, nourish your body and spirit, and keep you together. We all need each other, we all need ourselves, and we all need something. Take care. Take care. Take care.

Peace and love to all. 

PHOTO: LAUREN HAMBLIN

PHOTO: LAUREN HAMBLIN

Q. Gibson is a writer, author, and artist from Ohio. She writes for Black Girl in Om because she believes in the power of words and community to create change. Find more of Q.'s work on her website (qgibson.com), Twitter (@QGibson_), and Instagram (q.gibson).