As Mom Writers: Why “Maid” Matters To Us All

Nikkya Hargrove
3 min readMar 7, 2019
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

The advice so often given to writers is to read and read often. Read books which you might not otherwise read from people you might not otherwise choose to read. The goal in doing so is to expand the writer’s writing palate, to shed light on the various forms of structure, voice, and style which exist. I like to read books which pull at my heartstrings. I like to write pieces which also pull at one’s heartstrings.

Last weekend, I bought a copy of Stephanie Land’s memoir, “Maid.” I picked up her book, as I’d been following her work for some time and wanted to learn from her structure, understand her voice and style a bit more with one goal: to help me become a better storyteller. As I moved deeper into her story, it felt eerily familiar as though I’d heard it before — the plight of the white woman struggling with something: addiction, her faith, work/life balance, etc. Her story is not so unfamiliar for thousands of others, particularly for people of color. But their stories are buried in the socio-political climate of their time.

An analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s data by the Pew Research Center in 2012 reported that African American and Hispanic households make up 27.2% and 25.6% respectively of those living in poverty compared to 12.7% of whites. Communities of color experience poverty at rates 2x that of their white counterparts. As I flipped through the pages of her book, I kept asking myself, has an African American or Hispanic woman recently published a memoir about a mother living in poverty which made the New York Times Bestsellers list? After a quick search, I could not find one. What I discovered was that our stories, stories of women of color working to do the same as other mothers, are not told in the same way by women of color with a goal to educate Americans. White mothers who are knee deep in the struggle of what it means to mother one’s child when money (or lack thereof) forces us into choices which are meant to push us ahead and give us a sense of stability find their way to bookshelves. Their voices are heard in ways that women of color have yet to lend their voices to, on such a public platform. Our stories, stories written by women of color, are ones which are most commonly written as fiction, masking the true realities faced for these moms.

Nikkya Hargrove

I am an eternal optimist. I love helping people, writing and coffee— in that order!