The Motherhood Series
Meet Ashey Bundy-Martin! Ashley is part of the Mrs. Nipple community and has been following along while she prepares for her own family. She is charismatic, outgoing, and has an infectious personality.Yes, I gathered that all in the first 5 minutes of our conversation. She has been on a long path to motherhood which is the most important thing to her in this life. I am honored to have her share her story and guidance with this community today.
Ashley will take it from here:
Thank you for being here! I am hoping while you’re here you can connect to something in my story that will help you to be able to put a face to the struggle and have the understating that it’s no longer enough to not be racist, but that we must actively be anti-racist to make a lasting change. It is going to be hard work but, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy” and the time for easy is up!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself/story that has affected you?
A: My name is Ashley and I am a 36-year-old Philadelphia native, who happens to currently live in Alexandria, VA by way of New York, Miami, and D.C. No matter where I end up, I will forever be Penn State proud and a loud supporter of all my Philly teams (I am hoping that none of those things have scared you away). I am married to an amazingly hard-working man named Tim who happens to be white and a Patriots fan. We have been married and trying to build our family for three years.
I grew up in Philadelphia with two college-educated parents. My Dad was a retired Philadelphia police officer and business owner and my Mom a bank manager on the Main Line (suburbs outside of Philadelphia). My parents sacrificed a lot so I could attend a private school and I am forever grateful. From 2nd grade until high school graduation I attended Springside School for Girls. I graduated in 2001 with 32 other women, being one of only four minorities in our class.
In 2nd grade, I will never forget the first time I was asked to speak for my entire race. My friends and teachers’ eyes all turned to me… a child, like they were, and asked a question, “Do black people mind when…?” I remember giving my answer then quantifying, “Well, my family does this…” and shrinking back into my chair thinking, “Was I right? What if not all black people do that? This doesn’t feel good.”
Looking back I just think, “How much unfair pressure is that to put on a child or anyone for that matter?” Is Molly (my one red-haired friend) asked to speak for all redheads, is that even a thing? The answer is no, she is not asked to speak for all redheads, but that would not be the last time this would happen. As silly as that example is, do you recall ever having to speak for or represent your entire race? While I can now honestly say I’m used to navigating my way through predominantly white spaces many of you have never had to even think about it–and that is a privilege Black Americans do not have. There are so many situations where being Black feels like a burden because so much is asked of us starting from such a young age.
Q: With so much going on in the world right now, how are you feeling?
A: Tired and confused mostly, a little hopeful and a little desperate for Whispering Angel to box their rose so I can store more in the fridge. Tired because day-to-day things still have to happen (I am working on this during nap time) and laundry isn’t done, I haven’t made the shopping list and I feel like my house is a mess and our dog just passed away, but should I even be grieving for him when George Floyd was just murdered on top of all the other Black people? What if someone I love is next? Confused because, why is this still a thing in 2020? How did we get here and how do I feel so lonely when so many people are saying they want to help/fight/take a stand? Hopeful, because so many people are speaking up and pledging to do the work to be better allies. Desperation comes and goes and luckily I have found other wine choices 🙂
Q: What hopes and fears do you have thinking about motherhood?
A: I have all the fears and to this day have never even been pregnant. Barring the infertility struggle, sometimes I wake up and ask myself, “Do I really want to bring a child into this world? Will I be strong enough to have tough conversations with them about the fact that some people will not like them solely based on their skin color?” (The first time I was called the n-word was when I was in 2nd grade by an adult so this, unfortunately, isn’t a conversation that can wait.) How will I explain that more than likely they will be treated differently when they are with their father who is white vs me their black mother? I beat myself up overthinking/wishing my children looked more like Tim, just in the hopes their lack of melanin would save them from experiences that are all too common. No mother should have to wish a part of herself away to keep her children safe. Also, if I speak to any of my bi-racial friends they have their own struggles even if they are “passing.” I was in tears when I read Meghan Markle’s most recent speech about her struggles growing up as a biracial child. There are days I want to stop everything, the meds, the tests, and say maybe this isn’t the time or maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mother, but growing up I never imagined my dream wedding/husband/home… I always pictured the large family I wanted and all the babies I would have. I’m hoping that when they finally get here the world will be safe.
Q: What does your mom-to-be journey look like?
A: I feel like Reese Witherspoon/Cheryl Strayed in “Wild.” It feels like the journey will never end. Like you are working so hard but things never happen when you want them to but you just know you have to keep going. Back to about a year before I got married, I was continually in pain. Intense shooting pains up my legs, nausea, hot flashes, insomnia, and cramps that I could feel through thousands of milligrams of over the counter pain meds. There were times I honestly thought about suicide because of all the pain. It was only at Tim’s insistence that I finally went to the ER. There I was given an ultrasound and a preliminary diagnosis of endometriosis. One surgery confirmed stage IV endometriosis and the doctor telling me that I was “really messed up.” Two surgeries later, countless doctors visits, blood work, ultrasounds with each time hoping today is the day we can start to actually make a baby, and then here comes coronavirus to put a stop to it all. Fortunately, after taking a pandemic break we have our next appointment coming up, so wish us luck!
The path to becoming a mom/making a family affects every area of your life and all of your relationships. Currently, my sister-in-law is pregnant and one of my best friends. It’s a unique feeling of being sad for yourself and happy for someone else. I am a master at holding it together at baby showers and Target parking lot cries.
On the other hand, I feel like maybe the time we have been given will help us when we do finally get pregnant/become licensed foster parents. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been laid off from work and have been taking care of a three-year-old. Having Logan for 30 hours a week has helped Tim and I become a better team. We have practice dealing with tantrums/blowouts/discipline/potty training etc. and have really honed our ability to read when the other partner needs to step away.
Q: How do you feel when you hear a white person say “I don’t see color.”
A: I feel dismissed and lesser than. While I know there is more to me than being black, the color of my skin affects how I am able to move in the world and how I am perceived whether you acknowledge it or not. You must see race to combat racism, choosing to say you don’t see something that people are saying has affected them is wrong.
Imagine being a corporate working mom- you have children and family obligations and your boss continues to give you tasks/work trips/assignments that affect your ability to be the mother you want to be. When you go to your boss and ask them for adjustments to your workload and you explain that you are a mother your boss says, “Oh, I don’t see a mother, I just see an employee and your kids should have nothing to do with who you are at work.” In that one statement, your boss has erased a huge part of who you are. It wouldn’t feel good and I doubt anyone of us would work for a boss who so willingly casts aside something this huge.
Q: What advice do you have for parents/families who live in predominantly white neighborhoods?
A: The work starts at home and with a lot of introspection. It is WORK…It is not just about reading books and adding black dolls to the family home. Parents must do the work themselves first; acknowledging internalized racism and dismantling it and then finding ways to support Black activists/change organizations. Kids can feel when the adults in their lives aren’t genuine, so we must do the work and show up even though it will be hard. Something to keep in mind is that it is a luxury to not have to “worry” about race or having to teach about it. My parents didn’t have that luxury and neither will my children.
Things you can physically do:
Venture out of your family’s comfort zone, be ready and willing to be the only white people in the space.
Go into the different neighborhoods, explore different playgrounds, restaurants, stores, etc.
Instead of looking for the “best” of something try looking for the most “diverse” or the “newest” experience. Expect to be uncomfortable and then dig into why you feel that way.
Expand your friend group. Maybe you have to go to a town over, open up your wine club to more people, post on social media calling for more like-minded people to rally around a cause. Actively court new friends/co-workers to join your circle.
Get involved more with the focus on inclusion and expansion. An example could be opening up the kiddie t-ball team to the three nearest towns and offering support/scholarships for uniforms/travel to parents who can’t afford them. Use the public beach which tends to attract different families over the paid beach which due to cost, tends to not be as diverse (this is a thing in Ocean City, NJ where we go).