These Black TV Moms Make Motherhood Look Easy

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Motherhood is hard. It’s why we celebrate Mother’s Day — which is May 14, so consider this your official reminder to get your mom a gift. For every moment of joy and love that women experience as moms, there is another one filled with worry, difficulty, and self-doubt. For at least 18 years, moms are responsible for providing resources and emotional support to another human being. It's a pretty big commitment.
Not even Hollywood — which can make anything look sparkly from the right angle — is willing to brush over that reality. In fact, the struggles of parenthood are usually at the forefront of how motherhood is portrayed on television. Moms worrying about the fate of their kids is the theme of about 70% of the lineup at Lifetime Movie Network, I’m sure. Black mothers, for their part, are often seen as conniving, overbearing, and/or constantly annoyed by their kids.
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But there are some Black women on TV that make being a mother look like a walk in the park. In their own way, these fictional moms highlight why so many parents find their kids to be worth the hassle in the end. In my own life, they give me hope. Thanks to these Black women, I feel less of an urge to run in the other direction every time my mom asks me when I’ll be having kids of my own.
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Claire Huxtable, The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

To me, one of the most unrealistic things about The Cosby Show is that the family matriarch, Claire (Phylicia Rashad) is so perpetually unbothered. She is an attorney and mother of five children with a little too much time on her hands, if you ask me. I still don’t know how she did it, but Claire has that elusive “it all” that everyone's been talking about.
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Vivian Banks (The Original), The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

With the financial resources to take care of her own kids and her sister’s son, but the humility not to spoil them, Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert-Whitten) was always the on-screen mom I wanted for my own. She's stylish and level-headed, never swaying from her morals and always gives her kids the freedom to express themselves on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
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Nikki Parker, The Parkers (1999-2004)

It’s easy to be a carefree mom when you’ve suddenly become your daughter’s peer. The Parkers was developed around Kim Parker (Countess Vaughn), a supporting character on Brandy’s hit show Moesha. Kim’s mom, Nikkim was a teenager when she had her and dropped out of high school. When Kim becomes an adult and starts college, Nikki decides to not only join her but convince them to be college “roommates.”
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Jay Johnson-Kyle, My Wife & Kids (2001-2005)

Part of the reason that Jay (Tisha Campbell-Martin) made motherhood look easy on My Wife and Kids is because her husband, Michael, is so uptight about parenting. Her main job as mom is countering the ridiculous plans that Michael comes up with for discipling the kids.
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Cookie Lyon, Empire (2015-Present)

There is nothing simple about Cookie’s (Taraji P. Henson) life. She spent most of her kids' childhoods in prison. But now that she’s out, she is proving that hell hath no fury like a mama scorned. She makes motherhood look easy because I can’t think of a single person who can adequately check Empire’s matriarch.
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Ruby Johnson, Black-ish (2014-Present)

The woman responsible for making Dre a “mama’s boy” knew exactly what to say, and what not to say in order to keep her kids in line. It’s a practice Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) still uses on her adult son and his children. She is one of my favorite characters on Black-ish as a result.
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Lisa Landry, Sister, Sister (1994-1999)

Sometimes, being fabulous is the only thing you have left for yourself when you’re raising identical twin teenagers. This is Lisa Landry’s (Jackée Harry) mainstay as the maternal figure to Tia and Tamera on Sister, Sister. An aspiring fashion designer, she proves that it's never too late to pursue a dream, kids or not.
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