Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mocha Moms' Draw Support from One Another

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mocha Moms' Draw Support from One Another

Article excerpt

At a time when some new mothers, at least, win praise from families and friends for staying home with an infant, black women hear a contrary message: Keep working, no matter what.

Although new Census Bureau figures show that more mothers are staying home until their babies are at least a year old, those numbers have not increased for black women. Working remains an economic necessity for some. For others, it is a cultural imperative.

"Staying home is not something as accepted in black culture," says Jolene Ivey of Cheverly, Md. "When black people finally were able to advance educationally and pursue jobs that paid more, they weren't expected or encouraged to forgo that to stay home."

A white woman who puts her career on ice for the sake of time at home is likely to get at least some questions. That goes double within the African-American community.

"For blacks, people are incredulous that you would do something like that," says Mrs. Ivey.

Ivey and her husband have five sons, ranging from 12 years to 21 months. A former television producer and congressional press secretary, she has been at home since her first child was born.

Four years ago, feeling isolated and frustrated because her black friends were all returning to work, she founded a group called Mocha Moms, hoping to connect with other black women at home. Response to her newsletter was encouraging.

In addition to weekly playgroups with their children, held in a church hall, members of Ivey's chapter gather for "moms-only" nights to discuss weightier issues. They have invited financial planners to talk about how to save for college and how to cut costs to make staying home easier. Once a year, they hold a potluck dinner to discuss options in education - public schools, private schools, and home schooling. They also set aside one meeting to consider ways to make money at home. …

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