Living in her truth as a single mother of two, this motivating mama shares her epic story.
From homelessness to coming into her own, Ashley opens up about her experience as a new mom. Herein, this tower of strength shares on the power of breastfeeding, postpartum care, leaning into her tribe, and the importance of holding space for herself. @mswrightsway
“I had to grow up emotionally and physically very quickly to navigate single motherhood.”
Shannon, my eldest, is seven, and Satori is two. My pregnancies were equally easy (physically) and sad (emotionally) as my relationships with both fathers ended during my pregnancies. As a result, I had to grow up very quickly and work through the trauma to show up for myself and children to navigate single motherhood.
“There was a power that came with sharing, being vulnerable and speaking my truth.”
Early on, I leaned into my story and community. There was a power that came with sharing, being vulnerable and speaking my truth. I was a little lost until I learned to reach out to my online village and regularly count on the powerful people around me.
“While I definitely wanted to breastfeed her because it provided optimal health, I also did it because I couldn’t afford formula. Breast milk was free.”
I had Shannon in the hospital naturally without drugs. And, then I breastfed her until she was four and a half. It’s funny, I could give you this whole spiel about how it’s the “most natural way,” and “I love the bond”, which are both true, but not the whole truth. While I did want to breastfeed her because it provided optimal health, I mostly did it because I couldn’t afford formula. Breast milk was free. When it came time to stop (for most), I still enjoyed it. So I kept at it. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin which helps you manage and balance all the emotions that come with new motherhood. Over time I saw how well she was developing. Plus, I felt sexy as hell and powerful for sustaining life from my bosom. Even though this went against traditional societal timelines, it felt right to me and I carried on. We need more audacious women that stand in their power.
“You have options on how you get pregnant, how you give birth and how you nurse. There are options for all of it.”
All of this plays a role in terms of how I showed up, and the reason why I chose to display myself breastfeeding on the regular. I want to show women they have choices. And, it doesn’t just have to look the way that society tells you it has to look. You have options on how you get pregnant, how you give birth, and how you nurse. There are options for all of it.
“I’m on a mission to shift the narrative about how we think of breastfeeding past one-year-old as well as what single motherhood looks like.”
Years ago when I shared that I was breastfeeding Shannon at two, three and four years old, people were messaging me that she was going to be sick and slow with messed up teeth from breastfeeding. But, now you can see the result, she is none of those things. Instead, she speaks three languages, reads at an advanced level and has excellent teeth with no cavities. I’m on a mission to shift the narrative about how we think of breastfeeding past one-year-old as well as what single motherhood looks like.
“There was a time that I was homeless with my child.”
I am changing the conversation around what it means to be a single black mother of two, who is navigating outside of what they said I was “supposed to be,” i.e. miserable, angry, and poor. I’m none of those things, at least not today, because I did the work. There was a time when I was homeless with my child. There was a time when I could not believe that I was “that statistic.” There was a time when I was questioning my value and my worth. There was a time when I was living on food stamps and couldn’t believe my situation. But, I picked myself up and stood in my power. Keep in mind I didn’t grow up poor, my parents are still married and I’m a college grad with a degree and student loans to show for it. But, my first relationship was a very abusive one with my child’s father, and I found myself in that predicament nonetheless.
“I knew I needed to take care of myself in order to be a good mother.”
During pregnancy, I went to therapy and received professional support to heal my traumas. Plus, I began to prioritize fitness through dance and yoga. I knew I needed to take care of myself in order to be a good mother. If you are compromising the quality and care of yourself then you are compromising the quality and care of others. You can’t show up for anyone if you don’t show up for yourself. I got into yoga and dancing and learned how to move through my circumstances. Slowly I picked myself up and changed my mindset.
“I’m showing you can live free and love unapologetically in motherhood, breastfeeding and taking care of yourself…”
Plus, I learned to ask for help. Often we get caught up as mothers in projecting this facade of perfection and are embarrassed to ask for what we need. Society and social media say you have to be flawless, a perfect mom. As a result, so many women are sitting around saying they are OK and not getting the sophisticated support they need because they are so busy hiding from themselves. We need to connect through vulnerability. I’m showing you can live free and love yourself unapologetically in motherhood, breastfeeding and taking care of yourself so you can be more present and show up for your children.
“I birthed my second unassisted in my living room, on this very sofa, with only the child’s father and Shannon there.”
My second baby I birthed unassisted in my living room, (on this very sofa), with only the child’s father and Shannon there. Before I gave birth to her, I became a doula and care worker. Through that process of working with women, along with the experience of my first birth, I felt connected to Mother Earth and knew I could trust my body. I was a healthy non-risk pregnancy, had birthed before naturally and was in tune with my body. Once you start getting into the practice of listening to your body and not attending to outward noise, you can dial up your intuition that which we have as mothers and it is strong. If you tap into that, it’s powerful. So I chose to do that and had her at home.
“My last birth was powerful as all, I mean, I didn’t even push, because you don’t push a baby out, the body and baby guide it.”
Granted if I did it again, I would likely have a different level of powerful women supporting and surrounding me. My last birth was powerful as all, I mean, I didn’t even push, because you don’t push a baby out, the body and baby guide it. The reason you get a contraction is that the baby controls that – every time she wiggles down a little more, you get a contraction. So if you get out of your way, tap into understanding birth on a more intuitive level in a women-led and baby-led space then you will know that it’s true and not a cute soundbite.
“It’s a timely reminder into the now because as a single mom I can get so caught up in the urgency to make more money and work all the time.”
Moments are fleeting, this I have learned and wrote a book about it called A Time For Presence. It’s a beautiful story, a reality rather. Shannon taught me to be present, while my youngest enforces it. As a working mom that’s constantly on my computer and always saying “no” to her requests to play because I have to work. One day when she was much younger, she wanted to go outside, and so reluctantly, I agreed. I realized on that trip to the park, that she wouldn’t always ask me to play with her. She is only going to be a baby for so long and how powerful for her to know that she can lean on me, her mother, to be there for her. Quickly I understood that I needed that trip to the park more than she did and for the rest of the day we found ourselves in alignment. Our energies were better. She felt happy and it changed the whole vibration of our home. Which in turn allowed me to go home and get the work I needed to get done instead of fighting, forcing and pushing. It’s a timely reminder into the now because as a single mom we can get so caught up in the urgency to make money and work all the time. But it’s just as important to carve out some time and take those moments when you can as ultimately it serves you in a much bigger way. It’s not just about going to the park. You need moments to breathe as well.
“Part of self-care is being clear about what you need and not being afraid to ask for it. Advocate for yourself.”
Learning to lean into the powerful people around me and know what it is to say “I need help,” made mothering possible. I can’t say it enough as it’s so important to lean into your circle, be it your mom, friends or caregivers. And, the more you ask, the more people will show up. Part of self-care is being clear about what you need and not being afraid to ask for it. Advocate for yourself.