S1: Slate plus, listeners, let’s keep it going. This week, Slate’s own Julia Craven wrote about how one black mother’s video about her night dula went viral, sparking a debate about privilege, luxury and the expectation that mothers, particularly black mothers, must be suffering to be succeeding at motherhood.
S2: So this is what it looks like for a typical night with our postpartum nighttime doula. First, I get the baby ready for bed by getting him clean, getting his essential oils on and burning, and prepping bottles for the doula to give him overnight. She arrives at eight p.m. At that point, I retreat to my bedroom, where at eight p.m. to six a.m. is my time free of all children. And then after a good night’s sleep, I go and relieve the Dula at 6:00 a.m. And that is what it’s like.
S3: My initial reaction is like this anger that this woman is posting about something that is working for her. And our reaction is like, you’re a bad mother as opposed to like, even if it’s a luxury and even if it’s privilege, why isn’t our reaction? Wow. Everyone should have this.
S4: I think that’s so often the reaction when people see black women who are not suffering, you know, like just the idea that she could not only, you know, have this cute family and a baby and a husband, but like, you got some extra help, too. You know, it’s unfortunate because like the night do, and I think she has her come two or three nights a week, you know, so it’s not that she’s not doing the majority of the evenings with her own baby, just that, you know, on a couple of occasions per week, she gets a good night’s sleep and she’s a working mother. She’s a parent to an older child. You know, maybe a four year old. So it’s like it’s an ideal situation that more of us should be in. You know, and as Elizabeth said, why can’t we all want to have this? But I think, you know, people are legitimately triggered. You know, I think that there is a lot of it play out online where they couldn’t get past their own, I think upset at how hard they’ve had to work and the lack of resources that they’ve had for themselves, that they, you know, instead of being happy for her, that it hasn’t played out that way. You know, the resentment came out very quickly.
S3: I guess I personally felt like to. Would people have been as outraged if this is a white mom posting about this, like how much of this outrage? Is this idea of her, you know, being this successful black woman and for some reason, like she needs to to work harder for this? I don’t know. Like because it’s not like she’s the first person in the world to post about having a night do right?
S4: No, I was just to say I think who was most outraged by it? You know, has a lot to do with who said it. You know, I think that a white mother, yeah, would have had some negative reactions to I don’t think it might not have been as vitriolic, you know, but I think we’re kind of used to the idea of white women having an abundance of resources, you know, but like the idea that a black woman could access these things was upsetting and surprising for a lot of people.
S3: I just wish this were a trigger for a discussion more about like what are the needs of mothers? Because here’s this woman saying like, Look, I found this thing that’s working for me. It’s helping me be a really good mom. And it’s not really that far outside of the kind of care. A lot of communities provide for their new moms, right? This is something that we don’t see in the U.S. But like in the Netherlands, a home nurse is provided by insurance, and the hours that they come is set by, you know, granted, they have a lot of home births. And what there is some privilege because the you know, the quote unquote better insurance is, I guess they are better pay for more hours. But this idea that you would need care in your home and that you as the mother need rest exists in a lot of communities, either like the Dutch, where they’re providing it through social health care or are providing it through the community that you have mothers, grandmothers, friends providing that kind of night care. And to me, it was like, Wow, look at what a difference. A couple hours of care at night. So this mother can sleep makes for this woman. How do we get that to other women who need this? Or can we see this and think, Wow, this is a way when we want to help a mom? Maybe this is a way we can help a mom instead of just saying like, Wow, they stay up all night and do all of this good for them, it’s like, Well, no, that’s not great. You know what they need is to get their rest. So just this reaction that like, somehow you’re not a mom, if you’re not up with your baby in the middle of the night really bothers me. Mm hmm.
S1: Yeah, our friend just had a kid and she’s a single mom, and between her close friends and family, like she has someone staying there most nights of the week and it’s just like fantastic, like of course she should, she should have help. We should all have help. And seeing this mom in the TikTok video say that she has from eight p.m. in the evening to six a.m. Just it just like filled me with like I didn’t. I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in a while, but just like seeing that she got a good night’s sleep, it just made me feel good that someone was getting some sleep.
S3: Yeah, I actually thought it was really courageous of her to like to admit she’s getting help.
S4: It is. I think it is, because we have a lot of complicated feelings as a society about getting help, you know, especially for mothers. And so I think that was very courageous of her to to share that with the world. And if I have another baby, I want a night time deal. I feel like that might need to go on my contract. Like, that’s the only way I get another baby. Mm hmm.
S3: I just I think about what a difference that would make like even in just your ability to handle the other struggles of of having a baby, like if you’re choosing to breastfeed, like how much easier awesome sleep would make that if you’re, you know, being able to parent and not feel like every day, I’m in this haze because I’m just trying to make it through like, I’m sure she still feels like that, but at least maybe she can say, OK, tonight’s the night I get to sleep. If you know
S1: and I appreciate what you were saying Jamilah about the Netherlands. And just like most of human history, except for this tiny blip that is right now, you know, it’s been community and a bunch of people helping to raise kids. So to think that like our way right now is the right way is absurd.
S3: Well, it feels like that’s something we made up here in the U.S. like because there are there are so many other cultures like, I think in most of Asia, still the like moms and and grandmas are there like to do these kind of things that is seen as very important to the mothering process and to, you know, family rearing. And it’s just something here. I’m not saying like moms do help and do do this, but it is. It is not seen as like, this is the kind of support that moms need. I think you should be able to register for a night do.
S1: Oh my God. How much? Like, who needs a goddamn bread maker or any of the other stuff that people get like a knight duel is such a good idea for a registry. I love that.
S4: That is, I mean, yes, you can have people ship in, you know, you figure out how much it’s going to cost and let people contribute. So worth it. I think that would be an excellent gift.
S1: Oh, that’s a great idea. Perfect for the holiday season. So we’re going to put a link to the Julia Craven article in our show notes. There’s so much to unpack there. And that is it. Thanks for listening. Slate plus, we’ll talk to you next week.