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Navigating 'Island' Parenting 3
Published on May 11, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version


By Mutryce A. Williams

Motherhood is an attitude, it is not just biological.

I have only now begun to digest the concept. Last year I found myself tearing up as Kahdeem walked past me, all grown up, cap and gown, Valedictorian, college bound, his mother handed me a tissue and remarked, “I knew you were going to cry.” The lady next to us asked, “Are you his mother?” I replied, “No, she is, I was his eighth grade teacher.” There was a puzzled look on her face. His mom piped in and smiled, saying, “I gave birth to him but ever since she met him she has loved him as I have, she has been there for him, and therefore she is also his mother.”

Mother’s Day is Sunday, and throughout the week what weighed on my mind is not just the day itself, or being celebrated but it was those mothers like Ms Raheema Wagner and Ms Jacinth Harris-Williams who have helped or assisted me in mothering my sons. As much as I would like them to at times, they are not always with me, and it’s just not possible. They are and have been in the care of others, others who when I am not present fill my shoes and become their mothers. They are in the care of others who I trust, and others who love and protect them even as I would, and who I hold in the highest regard.

These are the mothers who cross my mind. These are the mothers who I will be celebrating, as I don’t think Mother’s Day is just about that person who gave you life or that it is a day for being celebrated as you have given life. It is a time to celebrate those mothers who make your job of mothering possible, whether it means caring for your child so that you can go out in the world of work to provide for your child, so that you can further your studies in order to provide for your child, or so that you can have a much needed break.

There are others who help you in your duties. It can be your child’s daycare provider, teacher, coach, Sunday school teacher, grandmother, aunt, your best friend, or a neighbour, they help you mother. They are important. They ought to be celebrated. This is why I say that as mothers many of us don’t do it all alone. We really don’t.

Motherhood – A journey not to be traveled alone

As I write, I am wondering what exactly do I say? Why am I writing in the first place? Is it because one of those parenting sites said that mothers should find something that they enjoy and hold on to it or is there another reason? The answer is coming, I write not because I think I have any of the answers to motherhood or parenting but because as a ‘rookie’ I have come to the realization that this journey is not an easy one. It is a journey that we set out on with much hope and promise.

The baby arrives and is plopped into our arms, and because we are now mothers it is expected that we would have the answers to everything, but the truth is we don’t. We set out on this new journey exhilarated but at the same time afraid, afraid to admit that we don’t know what we are doing, afraid that we are going to mess up, and more afraid that others will think that we don’t know what we are doing. Motherhood is strength, but in motherhood there is also weakness and helplessness.

I think that the time has come for us as mothers to be honest with ourselves and honest with each other, and admit that motherhood is a spectrum. It is a spectrum which consists of highs and lows, and we have all experienced it. It is a beautiful spectrum which can be all absorbing, and daunting at the same time. All I can say is that what I have learnt these past three years is that motherhood is a journey that we travel but it is one that we definitely should not travel alone.

It is a journey that requires lots of support and a tremendous amount of help, and as women, especially in our culture we are not as supportive of each other as we ought to be, and for fear of appearing weak we apt not to ask for help. We really ought to; we ought to find sisterhood in motherhood. In everything else we say that there is strength in numbers so why should this be any different.

There are those mothers with Type A personalities such as myself, and I will admit this, we somehow feel that the babies would be born prepackaged, ready to be programmed if only we apply every good technique, however the realization hits that not only is each child different but they are each born with their own little strong willed personalities, and this in itself requires much time, skill, and navigation.

It takes some time to admit as well that as mom, mother, or mommy we really can’t do it all, or give 100% of perfection to each child, our homes, our careers, studies, relationships, health, interests, and ourselves something has got to give, motherhood is a constant balancing act, and although I grit my teeth to say this it does require sacrifice, although I don’t subscribe to it at the expense of the mother.

I have yet to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book. She is the chief operating officer of Facebook. It is definitely on my list of things to do that is when I do find the time. From the bit that I have gleaned, it is one of those “women can have it all books,” and I do not doubt this. We can in fact have it all, but only if we have lots and lots of family help, or lots of lots of money which can afford us the opportunity to pay for someone to help us with our motherly or daily duties. This is the reality, and many of us do not want to admit this, but it is the truth. We are constantly bombarded with the images of the ‘super mom.’ I have come to realize that she simply does not exist, one of those urban legends I joked to a friend.

Motherhood Advice 101 by Stephanie Knaak PhD

Do not waste time judging yourself against that image of the happily self-sacrificing, eternally fulfilled, do-it-all-yourself, implement-all-the-latest-expert-advice, super mom. It’s self-defeating, impractical, and ultimately not very useful for helping one to be a good parent.

Indeed, in the research I’ve done over the years (10-11), I’ve learned that moms who actively challenge this “mythical ideal” of motherhood — who don’t worry about trying to be the “perfect parent” (there’s no such thing anyway), but who just aim to be engaged, thoughtful, and committed in their parenting — these women tend to feel very good about themselves as mothers.

They don’t struggle with the guilt that some moms feel for not living up to certain ideals, and they don’t get bogged down worrying about what they “should” or “shouldn’t” do/feel as a mom. They just concentrate on their family and themselves, and shut out all that other noise.

The other part of this piece of motherhood advice is to expect ups and downs, and to expect things not to be perfect. In fact, don’t even try for things to be perfect.

Just try to be a good you, and try to stay thoughtful, engaged, and committed in your parenting — you will lead through example. At the end of the day, the best motherhood advice a person can give is simply to be thoughtful, engaged and intentional about your parenting, and to strive to be the best example you can for your children. That’s about it — nothing more, nothing less.

Motherhood is a process by Debra Gilbert Rosenberg

“New mothers enter the world of parenting feeling much like Alice in Wonderland.

- Being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs on earth and also one of the most challenging.

- Motherhood is a process. Learn to love the process.

- There is a tremendous amount of learning that takes place in the first year of your baby’s life; the baby learns a lot, too.

- It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the fantasy of what you thuoght motherhood would be like, and what you thought you would be like as a mother, with reality.

- Take care of yourself. If Mommy isn’t happy, no one else in the family is happy either.

- New mother generally need to lower their expectations.

- A good mother learns to love her child as he is and adjusts her mothering to suit her child.”

Motherhood, there is no other work so noble

“Having kids — the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings — is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”
― Maria Shriver

“I think motherhood is the noblest task of all, because you cannot do it at your convenience, or tailor it to suit your preferences. You have to be ready to give up everything when you take on this task: your time, restful nights, your hobbies, your pursuit of physical fitness, any beauty you may have had, and all of the private little pleasures you might have counted as a right, from late dinners and long soaks in the tub to weekend excursions and cycling trips…I’m not saying you can’t have any of these things, but you have to be ready to let them all go if you’re going to have children and put them first.”
― Johann Christoph Arnold, Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile World

Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
― Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

“I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting & challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.”
― Rose Kennedy

“No occupation in this world is more trying to soul and body than the care of young children. What patience and wisdom, skill and unlimited love it calls for. God gave the work to mothers and furnished them for it, and they cannot shirk it and be guiltless.”
― Isabella Macdonald Alden

Motherhood is delighting in one’s children

“Even if I'm setting myself up for failure, I think it's worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions; a mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is; a mother who doesn't fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties, are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgment of a too busy mind; a mother who doesn't worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she's both, and neither; a mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad. ”
― Ayelet Waldman, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace

“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood - finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.”
― Jodi Picoult, Perfect Match

Each child represents a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did - that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that - a parent's heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
― Debra Ginsberg

Motherhood means responsibility

“A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family. It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society.”
― N. Eldon Tanner

“She caught herself working so hard at mothering that she forgot to enjoy her children. -from ~Homecoming Season~”
― Susan Wiggs, More Than Words: Volume 3

“It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages

“But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven

“(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”
― Sophia Loren

Real Mothers
by Author Unknown

Real Mothers don’t eat quiche; they don’t have time to make it.
Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.
Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.
Real Mothers know that dried playdough doesn’t come out of shag carpet.
Real Mothers sometimes ask “why me?” and get their answer when a little voice says, “because I love you best.”
Real Mothers know that a child’s growth is not measured by height or years or grade. . .
It is marked by the progression of Mama to Mommy to Mother.

If God would give every mother a vision of the glory and splendor of the work given to her

“Oh that God would give every mother a vision of the glory and splendor of the work that is given to her when a babe is place in her bosom to be nursed and trained! Could she have but one glimpse in to the future of that life as it reaches on into eternity; could she look into its soul to see its possibilities; could she be made to understand her own personal responsibility for the training of this child, for the development of its life, and for its destiny,--she would see that in all God's world there is no other work so noble and so worthy of her best powers, and she would commit to no others hands the sacred and holy trust given to her.” J.R. Miller

Mutryce A. Williams is a native St Kitts and Nevis whose writings embrace and mirror the West Indian life. She holds a Masters of Politics degree and is a doctoral candidate pursuing studies in Public Policy Administration with a double concentration in Terrorism, Mediation and Peace, and Homeland Security Policy and Coordination. She may be contacted at
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