Mothers Making Tough Decisions…Every Day

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Every day parents make tough decisions. They are forced to choose between what they want for their children and what is accessible with the limited resources in their communities. Shanesha Taylor’s story is just one example of those tough decisions. You see Shanesha is a homeless mother of two children, aged 2 years old and 6 months old. And last month she received that phone call that all parents want – a job interview.

With no home or family to leave her children with during the interview, Shanesha made the difficult decision to bring her children with her to the interview and leave them in the car. After 30 minutes, Scottsdale police arrived, saw the children in the car, and arrested Shanesha on charges of felony child abuse.

After the media reported the story, our own Echoing Ida Gloria Malone took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the impossible decisions that poor, single mothers have to make to survive in this world. Being a single and former teen mother, the decisions Shanesha and mothers like her have to make were all too real.
Shanesha Taylor finally got that call for an interview! FINALLY! So she is excited & worried bc who will watch her babies while she goes?
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 27, 2014

She does what MANY mothers have done & DO. They do what they have to even if it's not conventionally "the best" decision. & gets jailed 4 it
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 27, 2014

Shanesha Taylor was "Leaning In" as someone who has little to no support. She "Leaned In" & it got her thrown in jail & her babies taken
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 27, 2014

Lets talk about how many single mothers have an interview but can't go because childcare isn't an option. Can we PLEASE!
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 27, 2014

Can't go to interviews bc no childcare, can't get a job bc no childcare, can't KEEP a job bc no childcare. society's take away=dont have sex
— Teen Mom NYC (@GloriaMalone) March 27, 2014
After seeing Gloria’s tweets on the lack of support our society gives poor and low-income single mothers, MotherWoman [], a nonprofit that supports and empowers mothers to create social change through community safety nets, and Huffington Post asked Gloria if she would write a longer piece on the issue. At Huffington Post, Gloria writes:
While "Lean In" has become the new mantra for working women, it is imperative that we acknowledge that not all women have the option to "Lean In." As a single homeless Black mother, Taylor leaned in and it cost her far more than a job. It cost her her children--who are still in child protective services--and if she is convicted on felony charges of child abuse, that could make her future prospects of obtaining a job more difficult since employers are not eager to hire convicted felons.
Gloria shared her own experiences of making challenging parenting decisions based on few decent options in her community – in particular around her daughter’s day care:
After having my daughter during my sophomore year of high school, I returned the next year and took part in a program for teenage mothers which provided partial vouchers (which meant I still had to pay out of pocket) for child care, if I attended patronizing and condescending parenting classes after school. Once I had the partial voucher I began looking into daycare facilities, which had good reputations in my community only to find out that none of them took vouchers. Ultimately, I ended up placing my daughter in the least terrible facility in my neighborhood.

Weeks after her attending that facility I began to realize my daughter had bruises on her little body, the bottles and clothing she was sent home with were not hers, and they always sent me letters saying she needed more diapers even though I sent a new pack the day before. One day while I sat in my geometry class I got a call from her teacher saying that I should not be alarmed when I picked up my daughter but that she would have a pretty large bruise on her head which was caused by her running into the bottom of a door.
These are the type of facilities that are available to poor single working mothers across the country who have been "leaning in" long before they were told to.
Mothers like Shanesha and Gloria are leaning in, but society isn’t recognizing it, only punishing them for making the best of problematic situations. Like all mothers, they want the best for their children, but our society doesn’t afford them the safety net to ensure their children have those opportunities. Gloria points out that community organizations are helping to make a difference in families’ lives across the country, however it’s up to us to stand up, demand policy changes, and push back when the narrative admonishes mothers for providing for their children in ‘unconventional’ ways. It’s not the Shanesha’s fault; it’s all of ours.

Read Gloria’s entire piece on Huffington Post and see all of her tweets on Storify.

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