Caribbean: Supporting Our Mothers

Mother's Day, celebrated this past weekend all across the Caribbean, was a hot topic of discussion with regional bloggers – or rather, mothers were. From posts of admiration and thanks to accounts of how women regularly defy oppression, it was a mixed bag, but one that mothers everywhere would have been happy to sample from…

To mark the occasion, TALLAWAH “rang up a few Jamaican celeb moms to get responses to the day’s most pressing query: Is having a child the best thing you’ve ever done?” The responses are worth a read.

Compatriot Nadine, Unscripted referred to her mother as “the epitome of self-sacrifice”:

We’ve had our share of ups and downs, and butted heads on some occasions. Yet, at the forefront of my mind, despite all that we’ve been through, I always remember everything she has given to us, simply because she cares.

She also took time to acknowledge “all the mothers, mothers-to-be, grandmothers and greats, the fathers who have a double role as mothers, and the mothers whose children grew in their hearts instead of their wombs”:

Wherever you are on this planet, I give thanks for you and your bright legacy. Know that you are blessed, honoured, loved.

Guyanese-born Tastes Like Home echoed her sentiments:

Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for caring about me.
Thank you for listening to my rants.
Thank you for supporting me.
Thank you for encouraging me.

Parenting is such a huge responsibility and I admire the grace with which you balance your life, work and everything else in-between. I join in the chorus of applause and salute you on this your very special day.

Over at My big, fat, Cuban family, the blogger's kids apparently logged in and shared some of the most meaningful things their mom has taught them over the years – from “[having] great adventures” to “[being] fearless.” Cuban bloggers were by far the most vocal about the sacrifices mothers – and women on the whole – have to make. Havana Times published an account of “a Cuban mother's drive”…

When you have a child who looks up at you in desperation and says: ‘Mommy, I’m hungry,’ and you know full well that two salaries aren’t enough to satisfy that basic request…then you’ll know where my strength comes from.

…but balanced the perspective in another post that explains why motherhood is so rewarding:

Most of all there are the kisses, the kisses and hearing ‘I love you, mommy.’ Those are the things that make me remember that being a mother is no sacrifice. Motherhood is simply a blessing.

So why aren't Cubans having more babies? This post offered some insight. Pedazos de la Isla uploaded a video tribute to Cuban women, explaining:

On Mother’s Day 2012, a number of Cuban mothers- most of them members of the Ladies in White- have been arrested and beaten by the Cuban political police, and yet they continue carrying out their activities and RESISTING against the repression.

These face harassment, acts of repudiation, beatings, and arrests for demanding the rights of an entire nation. Regardless, they still find time to protect and educate their children and families. They are examples of courage and inspiration.

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter reported on a march in honour of the memory of Laura Pollan:

Despite threats, harassment, and scores of women detained by State Security 68 Ladies in White following mass walked through Fifth Avenue in the west of Havana. They marched and chanted ‘Viva Laura Pollán!’ and ‘Freedom for the political prisoners!’

The blogger (along with others) went on to describe several cases of women being detained and threatened, adding:

It is also important to remember that Cuban mothers are spending Mothers Day in prison for defending the human rights of the Cuban people.

Haiti Chery, meanwhile, spared a thought for Trayvon Martin‘s mom, explaining:

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Matin, released a public service announcement…timed for Mother’s Day this [past] weekend, asking viewers to ‘call the governor of your state’ and encourage them to reconsider ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws like the one cited by the man who killed her son.

Trinidadian diaspora bloggers also marked the occasion, albeit in different ways. Fashion blogger Afrobella gave a few suggestions for the best Mother's Day gifts (hint: stay away from the irons!) and wished “anyone who's motherly” a wonderful day:

Whether you’re a mother with your own kids, or you’ve adopted a family, or if you’re a loving sister or aunt or grandma who really plays a motherly role in the lives of little ones, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for all you have done to shape a child’s life! It ALL counts. Thank you for being part of someone’s village. You’re more appreciated than you may know.

Photoblogger chookooloonks meanwhile, confessed that:

I always feel just a tiny bit strange accepting gifts on Mother's Day…I don't ‘mother’ so that I can get gifts once a year for my efforts. I mother for a lot of selfish reasons: because I wanted to be a mom. Because I get a hell of a lot out of my relationship with my kid. Because that's what I'm wired to do.

But you know what would be nice?​

If we moms could use Mother's Day as a day of focus to help support each other. It seems to me so strange that an experience that is so universal — raising a child — can also at times feel so solitary. And, frankly, so guilt-ridden: we get messages daily, from the media, from corporate culture, from our communities and even from other mothers saying you're doing it wrong. Judgments on issues like how you should become a parent — ‘natural’ or C-section or adoption or surrogacy. Whether you should work outside of your home. Or not. Or breastfeed. Or Not. Or how long you should breastfeed. Or what to feed you kid. Or how to dress your kid. Or what organizations you should get your kid involved in. Or when you should send your kid to school. Or where. Or homeschool. Or … or … or ….


So this year, here's an idea: in addition to the moms in our families, let's take a moment out of our day to send a message to peers — moms who are neither our mothers nor our partners — and just say, ‘good job.’ Send an email to someone (even someone you only know online) just to say, ‘You have great kids,’ or ‘you're an inspiring parent,’ or ‘your children are lucky to have you.’ ​An unexpected note of encouragement letting a mother know to keep on keeping on.

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