Throughout the series, she faces many trials; the first one— leaving her mentally abusive child’s father and bipolar mother behind; the only family and support she’s ever known. I don’t know what it was about this show that made me binge-watch it and get so upset that I had to pick the M&Ms up before I could watch the finale. I think it was because she took so many L’s that I craved a win for her. I wasn’t going to take my eyes off the screen until she received one. If she hadn’t, I might have written a letter to the show’s creator. It would’ve been a whole Freedom-Writers-Holocaust-book type situation.
There was something about watching Alex struggle that resonated with me and so many others. Her story transcends race and age. She’s a lower class, a newly single mother who is navigating the lovely government assistance world. We’ve all been there at some point, albeit some of us in more ways than one. Her struggle was relatable, I think, because if she won, we knew we all could win.
The Single Moms Alex Embodied:
The New Single Mom
She’s ready to run, if she hasn’t already. She can’t take her situation another minute. She’ll figure out the rest later. She’s taking it one day at a time. Making it from one day to the next is an accomplishment. Every night, after she tucks her children in, she sighs a sigh of relief. She takes delight in the quiet as she thinks of a master plan.
She walks around frantically, appearing to be calm (IYKYK), with a child in tow, looking for support that should be available without question, but she takes what she can get. Her brain runs tirelessly, she can’t focus on the task at hand because she’s constantly checking her phone. Not to see if she has a Facebook notification, but to make sure a real-life disaster isn’t happening.
She’s the mom on the social services waiting list—many of us have experienced this backwards system. I waited eight months to receive childcare assistance. I’m pretty sure I cried when I received my papers. Paying for childcare was one of the biggest weights I’ve ever carried. To this day, it has been my highest expense, even with assistance.
The Broken Mom
Her trauma catches up with her all of a sudden from a mere, unexpected, nostalgic moment. She’s the one who can’t run anymore, or even hold a conversation. She’s exhausted in every sense of the word. Done. She finds her home on the couch and watches her child tear up the house everyday. She can’t muster up a “stop” or “don’t do that”. Whatever keeps them quiet.
She’s balancing her checkbook with every transaction she makes throughout the day—her ultimate goal is to stay in the green!
Sometimes, she has nothing. Only herself and her children. No support, no safe shelter, no car, no money, no job, no food, no knowledge of resources. Still, she fights.
There are times when a mother will have most of these, but the absence of even one takes a toll on our day to day operations.
The Mom Trying To Save Face
She’s trying her best, but never moving forward. Giving 115 percent only to barely maintain. She feels like the work will never pay off. Single motherhood has caused her to pause and rewind more than she’s wanted to. She starts and stops school. Works all day to still have empty pockets on payday. She needs loads of help and doesn’t want to ask.
The moment when Alex was sitting on the floor of the ferry station with her daughter, then Nate walked up, broke my heart. It moved me that she was still in good spirits, still trying to make sure her daughter had shelter (although not ideal to many), still trying to save face. Even when we’re down to literally nothing, we find a way to say, “I’m okay.” We’re hardly ever okay, but the strength it takes to even say that, and attempt to hide the struggle from your children, is immeasurable in my book.
We have a lot of pride. We’re proud of ourselves, no matter how crazy we look because we’ve proved ourselves wrong and we’re stronger than we ever knew we could be.
The mom who took her sick kid to daycare.
She has a sleepless night; waking every time her child coughed, struggling to breathe, hoping her presence makes her feel some relief. She stays up all night, hating herself because she knows that when morning rolls around, she’ll have to be that crappy parent that childcare providers hate. She wanted to stay home and snuggle. She wanted to give her baby the motherly love that heals like no amoxicillin can. She wanted to pay the tuition too though, because childcare costs accrue whether the child attends or not.
On those days, I would be at my desk with my anxiety on 27, praying I could at least work until noon before I got the fever call. That call meant another eight hours of pay lost because ya know, the 24-hour rule (for those who don’t now, daycares require that a child be fever-free for 24 hours, without fever reducer, before returning). To get ourselves through, we remind ourselves that we’re mothers first. Which is quickly followed by the reminder that we’re not only the mother, but the sole provider, the emergency contact, the doctor, and the taxi cab. We’re everything. Those days break mommies down.
The mom on the floor crying, defeated.
She’s tired of fighting single motherhood and it’s ugly face. And by ugly, I mean ugly face crying. On the floor. Or in the bathroom at work. Because there’s a real life monsoon going on in her life and in that moment she realizes that she isn’t superwoman. She can only handle so much.
Single motherhood is so hard, but we get up every time! We know the show doesn’t go on without us. The people need us! The babies need us! Often, we have an amazing friend like Danielle, who is walking around the living room while we’re down and out, clapping all ratchet-like, fussing, “Get your ass up! You’re wasting time! Let’s go steal that hoe’s puppy!” I’m so glad Alex got up off of that floor. She found her power that day.
The mom who wants to make it work with her child’s father, but knows he’s not good for her.
Oh, what a battle. She goes back and forth with herself, over and over again. She knows that once she leaves, the access her child has to her father will never be the same, all because she chose to love herself.
Yes, it’s very possible for children to still have a positive relationship with their father once the relationship ends, but it takes a ton of work that the other party isn’t typically interested in doing.
The mom realizing that the relationships in her life that no longer serve her.
She allows herself to grow and ultimately welcomes positive change and new relationships into her life. She also soon realizes that some of the people she’s closest to aren’t in the same arena as her anymore. It’s a tough reality, but she’ll eventually have to move around to make room for her growth. Sometimes that means intentionally distancing herself from people she’s spent years having great (or terrible) times with. It means walking away from the comfort of the familiarity.
There’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you genuinely wish them well. It doesn’t mean that you think you’re better than them. It just means you aren’t in the same arena anymore, so things may be different and that’s okay. We have to accept it and continue to grow.
The Dating Mom
If she’s on Tinder, it’s a jungle out there! But she could also be the one who says, “he’s very nice and he’s great with the kids, but I don’t like him like that.” Every sane mother desires a man that loves her children as his own and is active with them. Sometimes, he comes around and it works. The kids are blessed to have a positive male figure’s presence and, oftentimes, new experiences. The load is lightened, she gets a moment to breathe. Other times, he comes around and although he’s great for the kids and it’s convenient, he just doesn’t do it for mommy.
It’s unfortunate, but single moms do actually have the right and deserve to deny a man that doesn’t light her fire. It’s not fair to either party. In my eyes, if he’s not the right one, he’s a preview of what’s out there for you. It can be scary to walk away from, but I typically opt against taking the safe option anyway. This mom looks like a lunatic for walking away from such normalcy, but ultimately knows what she needs to do to be genuinely happy with a clear conscience.
The mom who wants more, at all costs.
She understands what’s at stake. She knows they don’t have to struggle everyday if makes a few sacrifices and works hard. She knows that education is the key. She’s ambitious not only for herself, but her child and stops at nothing until they both have better opportunities.
The mom who finds herself again.
When Alex left her child’s father the first time, she went to a domestic violence shelter. She was prepared, she’d packed bags. The second time, she left with nothing. She visited the shelter’s clothing store where everything had been donated and was free. However, she couldn’t pick out anything. She was so overwhelmed that the store attendant had to pick out clothes for her.
Single mothers are selfless and often get so caught up in sacrifice that we forget ourselves. Read that again. We don’t forget “about” ourselves, we forget ourselves. *In my best church mother voice* Honey, Alex put on some new linens, she put on that mascara, and she was able to face that man without fear. She remembered who she was, what she was living for, and stood firm.
This show is awesome!
The list goes on, but basically, you need to watch this show. Maid, is for us. The struggling single mother, the one getting it out of the mud. In this story, we win. Alex found her strength. She fought through a traumatic childhood, navigated the social services system, and ignored the people who told her that her dreams were no big deal. She ignored the people telling her that she didn’t need all that, the people who thought chaos was normal. She left her abusive relationship and the manipulation that came with it. Not only did she find her voice, but she found a hustle too! When you do all of that as a single mother, you feel like you’ve won the Olympics. You’re lighter on your feet, your mind is clearer, you can take selfies without disgust. Man, IYKYK!
It’s okay to desire more for yourself. It’s okay to want a different lifestyle. It’s also okay to let people go if they don’t share that same desire and will actively prevent you from progressing towards growth. Honestly, they have the right to want what they want just like you do, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
I don’t know about you, but I often struggle with my ambition. I feel like I have too much of it sometimes. I think I should sit down somewhere and just raise my kids. Ironically, I think I only feel that way because some of the men in my life have struggled to understand my desire for more, just like Alex. Her father wanted her to stay with her abuser and her child’s father stood in her way at every turn. Even Nate, the nice guy, thought he should be chosen just because he was nice. In the midst of everything Alex was going through, he wanted more from her. Boy, bye. What is it with men and their expectations of mothers? *rolls eyes*
Staying together or co-parent?
By now, we know that families don’t always stay together. While I’m all for families staying together, I believe healthy co-parenting is much better than being in unhappy relationships. It’s more important that kids see you communicating effectively and practicing conflict resolution than it is for them to be under one roof where no one is talking and tension can be cut with a knife. Who can thrive in an environment like that?
What I know is that I want a different story for my little family, just like Alex did. I want the world at our feet, or at least the highway; anything other than the same sidewalks that I’ve seen since I was a kid will do. It’s my ambition that keeps me going, my ambition that’s going to break generational curses and create wealth. It’s the reason why my kids and I are in a much better situation today than we were 5 years ago when I was the one leaving.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…
I’ve recently reached a place in my life where I’ve had to start over again. I’m not as afraid as I was the first time, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the pressure of losing everything. I’m only one person, ya know? Maybe that’s another reason I couldn’t take my eyes off of Maid. It gave me PTSD and hope at the same time. It reminded me of the struggle that I survived. It reminded me of my strength. If I did it the first time, I know I can do it now with the wisdom I’ve acquired.
Can you relate?
If you’re reading this and you’re in the space that Alex was in, ready to run, just know that whenever the time comes, you got this. You deserve everything that your heart is set on. You’re worth all the sacrifices you’ve made for other people. We don’t have to do what our parents and those who came before have always done, we already know how that story ends.
It’s okay for us to want more and it’s okay for us to bring our kids along for that ride. They deserve the best you have to give them. They deserve to see you glow up. You deserve the best you have to give yourself. You deserve to remove yourself from people who don’t give you their best. And after you’ve fought tooth and nail to leave and succeed, don’t you dare quit on yourself! You’ll find your strength. I know you will. We always do. It’s mandatory. By no means will it be easy, it’ll actually be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. However, the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be able to start making progress.
Maid can be found on Netflix.
I do not own the rights to the above photo.