Cheryl is one of my admire moms. I remember when another #goodmama I know, Ms. Diane, a.k.a my best friend in NYC, took me to my first Mocha Moms meeting. I was new to the Big Apple and did not know a soul outside of my hubby. At the first meeting, I really was astonished at how gorgeous, successful and focused on motherhood all of the moms where. Cheryl was one of those women. In addition to having an excellent sense of style, she’s charismatic, well-rounded and has a down-to-earth personality. Someone whose real easy to make friends with. Here’s Cheryl’s motherhood journey! Enjoy!
1. What makes you a #goodmama?
I’m a good mama because my daughter’s best interest is always in the forefront of most every life decision. I’m always aware that I’m not raising a kid, but an adult, a human being, which forces you to think of the end game.
2. What are some of the most memorable moments you’ve had with your daughter?
Like most parents I have a slew of favorites. One of my favorites occurred on a family walk, when she wasn’t quite able to sit up on her own(7-8 months). My daughter, unhappy about the reclining position of her stroller and the canopy obstructing her view, with much exertion and grunting, pulled herself into an upright position and pushed the canopy back.
Her little brown face beamed at the accomplishment, until my ever protective husband stopped the stroller. He gently pulled her back into a reclining position, exclaiming her back can’t be strong enough to sit upright yet, and pulled the canopy out again to protect her from the sun. Walking next to the stroller, I could see the whole scenario play out over and over, her grunting and frowning until she was upright and free of the canopy with a 360 view of her world, him concerned and protecting her from herself.
Eventually, I suggested that we allow her the freedom to sit as she wished and she’d recline when she needed too, he reluctantly agreed. I love this memory because it was the beginning of her quest for freedom, independence, the ability to sail her own ship. A quest that continues now in her preteen years, when I still see the beaming confidence when she’s able to succeed at a task on her own.
3. What tools assist you in being the best mom you can be on a day-to-day basis?
My husband, my sister-moms & my mother are the best tools in my mom arsenal! My husband has always said he’s the Robin to my Batman, I would say he’s the wind in my sail, I just can’t imagine parenting on a day-to-day basis without him. He’s comfortable playing every role and has; sitter, cook, playmate, confidant and more. I’ve always done most of the parenting heavy lifting because I’ve been home full time & part time throughout her childhood, but he has always been a formidable partner in parenting in every way possible.
While I am my daughter’s most frequent safe haven, my husband and my sister-moms are my own. Although I don’t talk to my mom friends everyday, having a few like minded mothers to vent to and bounce ideas with is priceless. It’s always comforting to know you are not alone, whether that means feeling vindicated that you give your kid summer work or being strengthened by hearing someone elses solution to an issue you may have in common. Having a community, whether they are next door, a call away or on a web group is an invaluable tool. Mocha Moms helped me find my motherhood community and I remain thankful to the group for the life line it became.
Lastly, my Mother is an amazing day-to-day tool. My Mother passed away nine years ago, just a few years into my motherhood journey. However, the lessons I learned from growing up with her guide me everyday. Lessons of understanding, forgiveness, PATIENCE and parenting with humor!
When I feel impatient and overwhelmed, I think of my Mother, a single mother of limited means with 4 kids and no consistent father around, and I remember the humor and love in our household amid her struggles. Then I think, who am I NOT to be understanding, forgiving, patient and loving considering I’m fortunate enough to parent under much less stress. My mother’s spirit, the brain trust and warmth of my mom friend’s and my husband’s support are all tools that keep the needle on my patience meter in the black.
4. What can be done by society to uplift what it means to be a Black mother?
There is a lot society in general can do to uplift what it means to be a mother in general; extended maternity/family leaves, parenting training at the infant stage possible through hospitals and continuing via schools so that parents grow with their children, and quality affordable childcare for all.
However, I’m skeptical about the help the larger community can give to uplift what it means to be a Black mother specifically. Gandhi once said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. I wholeheartedly believe we must start modeling for each other what Black motherhood looks like. Black mother’s groups, especially ones that are able to retain the membership of seasoned mothers are a wonderful way to do this. Having a brain trust to look to for advise and comfort uplifts the motherhood experience.
Lastly, we must each really check our mirrors when there is trouble with our children. Somewhere in our American experience, many of us have lost the understanding that WE, not teachers, politicians or care givers, are our children’s first and most important teacher and advocate. I say this with racial love, but we must put as much time and money into the education and care of our children as we do for all the material extras: clothes, hair, cars, designer bags, vacations, etc. Make the time to spend time supervising homework. Don’t have the time but have the money? Then pay a tutor to help or find someone in your community you can barter services with. Make the time to spend time at their school, offer your time in the PTA. A mother once told me while her kids were in primary school most of her vacation days went to school activities. WE must not just show up at the school when there is a problem. We must stop looking to the larger society to solve our issues and know that we have within ourselves to uplift Black mothers everywhere and more importantly uplift the lives of our children. The same concept quoted from President Obama, “we are the change we seek.”
5. What is the most important lesson motherhood has taught you?
Motherhood has taught me the amazing ability for the human spirit to evolve and the limitless boundaries of love. When I think of myself in my 20’s and early 30’s, I can hardly believe who I’ve become. In my early 20’s a “friend” who began her motherhood journey in college, questioned whether I’d ever be a good mom because I was so into myself; career, clothes, travel, etc. My mother, speaking from decades of experience scoffed, “it’s not your time yet”. A 24 year old me couldn’t have imagined how I would sacrifice so much of myself to focus on being a good mama. In today’s “mom’s can have it all” world, sacrifice appears to be outdated . But here’s where the other lesson kicks in, LOVE. I never knew my heart could be so full of love and passion for another human being as it is for my daughter. So much love that sacrifice doesn’t seem like a dirty word, but a sacred gift, that was passed with love from my mother to me, from me to her and with God’s will, from her to her own wonderful children and so on, and so on.