Miesha Kelley Shares her Journey

Self-sufficient, strong, determined mom of four, Miesha Kelley, shares her journey as a former homeless mom determined to fight and provide for her children.

Miesha Kelley has had a life full of hurdles. As a child, her mother had to give her and her siblings up for adoption, as she was unable to carry the burden of seven children at an early age. As Miesha grew up and had her own children, she suddenly found herself homeless. She is a strong believer in doing all you can to provide for yourself, so it was hard for her to ask for help. Having no family in town, she had to seek assistance on her own. Through her strong faith in the Lord, she has been able to persevere and conquer the challenges she has faced.

When asked what she thinks are good traits of a mother, she responds, “loving, consistent and patient. From my perspective, a mother that doesn’t leave and won’t give up – that doesn’t hold anything against her kids. [One that] fights and provides for her kids. [One that} doesn’t just live with their kids but participates in their kids’ lives. That is what I try to do even when I feel like giving up.” She doesn’t want to put her kids in the same position that she was thrust into as a child, being given up for adoption. Her grandmother was her prayer warrior and eventually she and her siblings were reunited with her mom. Her daughters sum up the kind of mother Miesha is. Her daughter Grace states, “her willfulness to conquer any obstacle that is put in front of her whether it is her problem or not.” Her daughter Kemyatta shared, “her not giving up on us or herself, because she is dealing with a whole lot.”

Miesha also shares the difficulties and rewards of being a single mom. The most difficult thing, she says, “is to separate what I’ve been through from what I need to do with my children. It’s hard because I try to do everything opposite of what was done to me.  In doing so, it sometimes is not good for the child. Like when you didn’t get Christmas or birthday gifts so you over do it, and [your children] didn’t really earn it then, you end up with kids who are disrespectful and there is no fixing it later if you wait too long.” She has found some good coping techniques over the years. “I have to walk away because I get upset. I’ve always tried to do better than what was given to me. Praying and just moving away for a minute.” The biggest reward of parenting has to be “the kisses, the graduations…Some people want their space, but I love not having my space (most of the time)… the faces, smiles the opportunity that God gave me. I’m still like, why me? [I’ve]got a 24 year old, God, I’m doing it,” Miesha remarks.

When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of “Loving Brown Babies” Miesha says she “thinks all brown babies on a national level should be loved. Treated equal and should be loved the same … they are scrumptious…we all came from one God. We love our children. I’m a big advocate for loving brown babies because it scares me when they are treated differently.” Lastly, she shares her belief on what new Black moms/African American parents should be doing to impact their community.  “See something, do something – just being involved is how we take back our communities… it takes a village.”

 

This story was developed as a part of the Loving Brown Babies campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Neiman

Raven and Kurtis Foster Discuss Parenting with Freedom and Dedication

Life-long California residents, Raven and Kurtis Foster, have a busy life managing their careers and children. Raven has three children, Kurtis has two and they have a 10 month old daughter together. When asked what three words describe them as parents, Raven chose “dedicated, good, and beautiful!” Raven believes that being a good parent means being a protector and a nurturer. It means being a person who is caring, understanding, warm and welcoming. “My biggest hope is for my children to be the best of everything they can be. I don’t want them to feel that there are any boundaries on them because they are brown; they are free and there are no restrictions. [I] just want them to have peace,” Raven explains.

Family time is of great importance to Raven. With a large family, finding time and especially quality time, with each child is challenging. “There are not enough hours in the day to be everybody,” Raven says. Finding the time to be equal with all of their children is difficult.  Raven mentions that people might be surprised to know that “I support my children’s thought processes. We embrace every feeling they have. We are not physical disciplinarians. Your feelings are valid,   [because] if you are not able to be who you are at home, than you cannot be elsewhere. It all starts at home. My husband’s mom calls us hippies because we act so free, but we definitely teach right from wrong while strongly supporting our children in how they feel.”

Raven believes one of her biggest success stories is overcoming stereotypes. She explains, “breaking the stigma on being the bitter black women towards black men. Sometimes things don’t work, and we get stuck and often feel incapable of loving again and having someone who loves our children. We should never stop loving black men.”

She shares some advice for first time moms,Embrace your baby’s love. Encourage breast feeding.  I had my first when I was 17 and it was hard but love your baby as nothing else matters. The biggest reward of being a parent is when your children wrap their arms around you and say they love you without you doing anything first.”

Da’Shanae Mathews shares her story of parenthood

Da’Shanae Mathews, 19, is a single parent mom of newborn D’Akari and is planning to go to college. When she thinks of “Loving Brown Babies,” Da’Shanae thinks of a lot of powerful African American mothers loving their babies and knowing that even though being a new mom may seem scary, everything will be OK. She believe it is always helpful to find resources to guide you and to never be scared to ask for help, because Black moms should be speaking to other mothers in need. Da’Shanae is grateful for support from family and says, “My family is always here. If I need to sleep, they will watch him. If I have a question I can always call them.”

“My birthing experience was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through,” Da’Shanae recalls, “I went natural so I felt all the pain.” But the short-lived pain was more than worth the joy she has for her son. “What I love most about my son is his smile. He loves to be held,” she says. Just having D’Akari with her is her biggest reward as a parent. Da’Shanae’s hope for her son is for him to graduate from college and follow his dreams. Being a supportive mother and always showing love is how Da’Shanae feels she can be the best parent for her son.

This story was developed as part of the Loving Brown Babies Campaign from Sac Cultural Hub.

Katryna Hunt

Katryna Hunt is a cosmetologist, entrepreneur, wife and mother of three, including her two stepchildren and baby daughter.

Juggling a career and having a new baby is probably the hardest thing Katryna has tackled. “I am a perfectionist, but with so much going on it’s really difficult to balance. I pray a lot, and I have been real in-tune with my daughter. These moments fly by, so I have been slowing down trying to enjoy them. I still work and sell bonnets, but my priority is definitely my family. The salon business has been good to me, so after 14 years my clients aren’t complaining about my tight schedule,” she says.

Katryna believes faith is key to staying grounded. When raising children, she believes a parent should always consider their children in everything you do. Parents should affirm their children and let them know they are loved, but, most importantly, to introduce them to the Lord, and let them know that’s where their help comes from. As for her love for her baby daughter, she says, “It truly is indescribable. She is my everything- my drive, my peace, my laughter. She’s helped me love God more. She’s just amazing.”

Being a woman of color is the most beautiful and hardest job ever, Katryna believes. “You are your child’s influence. With that comes the responsibility to teach them. Not only the ABC’s, but moral character and how to be honorable black citizens. You have to discuss racial issues and how to deal with situations/scenarios that other races may not experience. It truly is an honorable role that shouldn’t be taken lightly.” One way that black moms/ parents can impact their community is by spending more time with their kids and helping others.

Her mother and pastor are important role models. “My mother has always stayed true to herself, she never gave up on us, and instilled in my sister and I to work hard and be a good person. Moral character was important to her but also ambition and determination,” Katryna said. Additionally she said, “My has a way of using excellent communication skills and living a disciplined life to be an example for others all while understanding everyone’s journey in Christ.”

As Katryna reflects on the future, her hopes and goals for her children would be that they honor God above all else and be a positive influence to others. She hopes they will be an example for others, be a great friend and spouse and be connected and compassionate to people less fortunate. She hopes her daughter will represent the black race as a woman with class, poise and intellect.

This story was developed as part of the Loving Brown Babies Campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Nieman, Contributing Writer with THE HUB Magazine.

Double the Love

Mother of three Latonya Williams shares the ups and downs of being a mom, and the new normal that life with twins brings.

Latonya’s 7 month-old twin boys, Riley and Roman, have changed her life in many ways. “My sons have given me a whole new outlook on the world. When I look at those beautiful babies, I know that my life is just beginning. The love I have for them will keep me strong and I will continue to strive for success,” she reflects.

Life as a parent is not without challenges. “I and the twins’ father live separately, because we are working on growing within ourselves. So I pretty much take care of the babies on my own Monday through Friday.

It’s tough; sometimes I’m just exhausted. But I love spending time with my babies and I miss them when I’m away from them for too long,” she remarks. “My biggest challenge is finding the time and energy to do simple things such as clean the house. It’s also hard to leave the house without a stroller, because I can’t carry two babies at once. Things that I used to take for granted, such as going to get a manicure, I can’t do without a babysitter.” Latonya also has an 18 year old daughter, and the challenges she faced with her were different. “The main challenge that I faced with my daughter was society. Our youth can be easily pulled into the sins of the world with the area you live in, social media and reality TV. It is a hard battle to keep them on the right track,” Latonya says. She believes the most important factor in raising children is integrity. “I try to be honest with people at all times and treat others how I want to be treated…I hope that my children do something extraordinary with their lives. I already tell my daughter, Queistiney, she can do anything she wants to do as long as she works hard.”

Advice for young African American women? “Wait to have children until you are married, and go to college after high school. When you do decide to have children, do not be scared; you learn as you go. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take advantages of all the resources available to you, such as family, friends, WIC, and the Black Infant Health Program. Take life one day at a time, and forgive yourself for not getting everything done. It’s alright to lay in bed on your down time, you deserve it!”

This story was developed as part of the Loving Brown Babies Campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Nieman.

Family Time = Quality Time

Entrepreneur, wife and mother, Malaika (Grace) Osborne-Walsh knows there’s a difference between being a good mom and a great mom. For her and her husband, Arthur, a big part of being great parents is spending quality time with their three children, La’ah (14), Bryson (7) and Devyn (1).

Malaika is the owner of Bubbly Babies Child Care for the Performing Arts, which is a family child care home that not only provides academic curriculum, but also courses in music, dance, theatre, creative arts and vocal arts. Her business keeps her busy, but also allows her to spend time with her family. She and Arthur enjoy quality time with each other and 1-on-1 dates with their children. “What our children love most about my husband and I is we love to wrestle with all of them, including giving hugs and kisses,” She said.

Malaika believes that being a great mom includes “listening and remembering your growth from childhood to adulthood, and keeping in mind the wisdom you learned along the way. Black motherhood is strong and beautiful. The love I have for my babies is incomparable to anything I have felt. It’s a love that will never go away through the good or bad.”

Though she is happily married now, Malaika was a single mother for 14 years. Her advice for single moms is to take advantage of the resources out there for you. There are many ways to get assistance. Her advice for first-time moms “Don’t look at other parents and children as your reference. When you have your own child, there is a mother’s intuition that will take over to help guide you. Seek knowledge and wisdom for all aspects of your life, from marriage to business.” In Ecclesiastes 3:4, the Bible reminds us there will be “a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Malaika’s biggest reward being a parent is watching her children learn and grow. She adds that “the hopes and goals are for our children are to be productive black men and woman is this world that will create change for others.”

This story was developed as part of the Loving Brown Babies Campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Nieman.

“Black Motherhood is Strength”: A Mother’s Perspective on Raising Children

The Ward Family of 5 live in Sacramento. Tisho and her husband Bill Ward Jr, have two sons (Makahi Isaac – 7 and Isais Xavier – 2) and one daughter (Saje Grace – 4). Tisho shares with us her thoughts on raising children and defining black motherhood.

“Black Motherhood is STRENGTH! Raising black children in today’s America is not easy,” Tisho states, “You have to teach your children how to navigate in a world where they are often set up to fail. Teaching my children the importance of love comes first. If they love God, then love self, then love others, they will always be resilient and able to stand up to negative forces. Black mothers can be criticized for giving out tough love but we do it because it’s necessary. I think it’s also important to show a softer, more vulnerable side to your children, in order to gain a mutual trust and understanding of one another.”

Tisho struggles with a familiar self-doubt, the constant question of doing enough for your children, making the right decisions for them and their future and disciplining them correctly. “We all remember what we didn’t like about our parents, but we forget about a lot of the things our own parents did for us that may have been small but important. I allow myself to be human and to make mistakes and to let my kids know I’m a person just like them.”

“I think there’s always been a sense of self-hate in the Black Community, and we still don’t see enough positive imagery when it comes to being represented in the media,” Tisho said, “I want our babies to love and accept who they are and who they were created to be; their beautiful, brown, glorious selves. We have to accept our role in some of the despair and tragedy that is going on with our babies dying at a higher rate than others and we have to take steps to correct it. It starts with loving ourselves, and believing that we are worthy of better.”

This story was developed as part of the Loving Brown Babies Campaign from Sac Cultural Hub.

Adrinne Larry Shares Her Parenting Successes

Mother of five and federal employee Adrinne Larry is a peacemaker, giver and mentor, not only to her family, but to all who encounter her. It hasn’t been easy, but Adrinne handles life’s challenges with courage and grace.

Her journey as a mother began in her teens. “It was rough in the beginning. I had my first baby when I was 17.  I was not prepared… having my daughter at a young age, my friends were able to go on to college and be more ambitious than me. I had to understand that while I am ambitious too, my ambition had limits, and was more challenging, because I always had to think how it would also impact my family.” However, as her children got older, Adrinne was able to explore her options. She started with the Department of Veterans Affairs and was blessed to find a federal job. Adrinne took advantage of their upward mobility programs and pieced together a career in the department.

Her greatest role models are her mother and father. “My mother is a fighter. She works hard and makes her point. My dad is calm, cool and collected; a smart businessman who does not tolerate nonsense.” As far as her journey as a mother, Adrinne has found that motherhood means so much more than just mothering her children. “For me, to be a black mom is to be a mother to all… I’ve had to mother myself at times, mother my kids, mother my husband, mother my neighbors and now at this point in my life, to a degree, mother my mama.”

Adrinne shares her greatest parenting success story, one where she expressed courage and grace in a challenging situation. She explains, “When my first daughter was in the third grade, she wanted to be in the school’s spelling bee… she was an excellent speller, the best in her class. She was certain that she was going to be chosen to represent her class, but to her surprise, the teacher chose another student who was not as strong in spelling as she; this child was the same ethnicity as the teacher. I went to my daughter’s school to talk with the teacher. My daughter didn’t know why I wanted to go… I went in and asked the teacher why she did not select Jazmynn, because she gets 100% on every spelling test. The teacher tells me that “Suzie” may not be as good a speller as Jazmynn, but she shows potential and this will boost her confidence. I told the teacher what I felt about her decision and Jazmynn looked at me and told me ‘you were right mom, being black means that I am always going to have to be 200% better than white people. They have a hard time recognizing my greatness…and all I could do was smile.’ I was very proud of her…and she was very proud of me.”

Now married and with five children ranging from 29 to 8 years old, Adrinne has a wealth of knowledge to impart to young mothers and black moms. She believes a good mother should be loving and understanding, with the ability to lead and teach, and be a good role model. A good mother should always be supportive, give advice when asked and to know her children’s traits to better prepare them for life.

Adrinne’s advice to young mothers is simple, “Trust themselves, their instincts…emulate someone who they think is a good mom. Don’t be afraid to be a good mom, show nurturing and kindness, you don’t have to look like everyone else, be yourself… Stay true to yourself. Don’t compromise yourself to be down for someone or something that you don’t support or believe in.” Lastly, “Never compare yourself to anyone or anything. Understand life can be hard, but be happy where you are and how far you’ve come.”

Unconditional love and unity in black communities is key, Adrinne explains. “Growing up in the 70s with the struggles of poverty, people tended to see how unfair the world was to blacks. There was a linger of hatefulness or resentment that the world showed us, the only love we were shown was from our families… in the 80s drugs and prisons left most without families, that’s when gangs were formed… we lost our family unity… now millennial babies have a certain awareness that we need love, we need family, we need nurturing, we need community. We can do it all by ourselves, we don’t need anyone to come build our communities up. We built America, for heaven sakes. We need to demand our fair share.”

Adrinne’s advice to her children is “To be happy. To do something in life that they are passionate about. To be true to themselves. To always lead with love. To be unselfish. To be honest and trustworthy.” She hopes they will choose what life they want to live and work out a plan to accomplish that goal.

This story was developed as a part of the Loving Brown Babies campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Neiman

Melissa Harvey Shares the Miracles of Motherhood

Melissa Harvey, mother of five, full-time mom and career woman, shares her views on the miracle of being a mother and the incredible support system with which she has been blessed.  Born and raised in Sacramento, Melissa met her husband, Immanuel, when they were teenagers. Both wanted a big family, but doctors told Melissa that she would most likely never be able to bear children. She recalls, “When I was younger, I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, but was told at the age of 14 that my chances of having children were slim. If I did get pregnant, I probably wouldn’t be able to carry the baby or live. After countless miscarriages, my husband and I kind of gave up. My Granny (who just so happens to be my Pastor as well) prayed and asked God to Bless my womb, and… well, I have five kids, so you get the picture.” Their plans for more children have had to be adjusted. Their middle son has health issues that need to be addressed, so for the time being, seven is the perfect number for their family.

Family time is important to Melissa and Immanuel. Melissa is the Direct Support Professional Supervisor at Strategies to Empower People and Immanuel works at CoreMark. They work long hours during the week, rely on others for help, but dedicate their weekends to family. “I swear I have the best support,” Melissa remarks.  “Of course there is my husband who not only cares for our children when he gets off of work (while I’m at work), but he also cares for our niece and nephews while my siblings are at work. Then we have our parents, our siblings and my best friend. I was BLESSED with the best husband, mother and sisters. My work schedule can be long and exhausting, but one thing I never worry about is whether my children are taken care of.” But weekends are for memory-making.  “I think that my children love that we have dedicated our weekends to them. Because we work long hours during the week, weekends are our family time.”

As with any large family, there are challenges, though Melissa feels like she has a lighter burden than others. “There aren’t too many challenges, but because we are very independent parents (by independent I mean we take our children everywhere with us, including on anniversaries), it’s hard for us to leave our children with anyone. It’s also hard sometimes to find someone willing to watch five children, four which are 3 and under. Another thing is school. They are all practically the same age, so schools can’t take all of them.” Her key to keeping calm under pressure is prayer. Melissa shares her traits of a good mother. “A praying woman, love, patience and understanding. There are many more traits, but I feel that these are important. Because the world is changing, we must constantly pray over our children and teach our children to pray over themselves. Children can be a handful, and sometimes I feel like there is not enough energy in the world that a parent can have to keep up with children, especially multiple children, so we have to be patient. We must love them even when they make mistakes, and understand and remember that we once were kids and made mistakes. As black mothers, we must pray harder, so that our young black men don’t lose their identity or lives to the streets. We worry because the fear of receiving a phone call saying that our child has been killed or locked up plays in the back of our minds.”

Teamwork, alone-time, and family time are important pieces to keeping a family unit stable, according to Melissa. Melissa acknowledges that a woman cannot achieve greatness without the help of great role models in her life.  “My role models have always been my Granny, Pastor Linda G. Holman, and my big sister Chyrena Brown. My Granny is the sweetest human you will ever come across, with the biggest heart. She is always praying and doing for others, even when she is the one in need of help. She loves God’s people, and she never turns anyone away. My sister, despite everything that she has been through, is still standing big and bold. If you knew her story, you would be in awe that she is still here. Regardless of what she has been through, it hasn’t stopped her from getting her degree and writing not one but two books and being the founder of her own organization.” Melissa believes the best thing you can do in life is lead by example, which also includes owning up to mistakes and correcting them. Her children see that their parents aren’t perfect and they aren’t afraid to admit when they mess up.

Melissa said when she thinks of Loving Brown Babies, “The first thing that comes to mind is empowerment. By loving our brown babies, we empower them with security, love, hope and courage. We tear down the walls of self-hate, low self-esteem and fear.” Her goals for her children are that they would grow to be strong men and women of God, to graduate college and be successful in whatever their heart’s desire.

This story was developed as a part of the Loving Brown Babies campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Neiman

Precious Myers Shares her Triumphs, Challenges and Privileges of Parenthood

Precious Myers lives up to her name in more ways than one. As a mother of three children, as well as a caregiver for her own mother, Precious has a heavy load to bear. But her life has proven to be “precious” as she has overcome incredible challenges throughout her life. Precious shares her triumphs, as well as her experiences as a single mother and the ups and downs that shape who she is today.

Precious’ first major triumph in life was when she was just 5 years old. She was hit by a motorhome while riding her bike and suffered a traumatic brain injury but miraculously recovered. As an adult, she was a victim of domestic abuse, where she faced another life-or-death moment but was able to escape that situation. Another major crisis came when her first child was delivered 15 weeks early. Precious was told that either she or the baby would probably not make it, but after nearly six months in the NICU, both mom and daughter came home from the hospital. Her daughter, Khayomi, is now 8 years old. Precious has overcome much and through those experiences she has developed into a strong and independent woman, who is led by love for her family. Precious states that being a single parent has taught her to always keep faith in God. Other than her children and mom, it is in Him where she finds her inner strength. “God puts no more on us than we can bear,” Precious states.

Of all the challenges and triumphs Precious has faced over her life, her greatest success is being a single parent. She also has the challenge and privilege of caring for her aging mother, a task that takes time, love and effort. Precious shares one of the most important qualities of being a mom, “Being a good role model – making sure I’m a good role model for my children. My mom was a single parent as well, raising me and my brother to the best of her ability. Seeing her strength, and then after losing a child and then going through a depression, and she still goes through it, but she is still here.”

Lastly, Precious shares some sage advice to moms, especially single moms. A good mom is “someone who makes their children their priority; never put a man before your children.” Also patience, she says. “Gotta have patience. If you don’t have patience, you are going to lose it. Sometimes I just have to walk away and ignore them and try to keep myself from being stressed out. They are all that I have, so I have learned how to control my stress levels and my patience.”

The biggest reward to her as a single parent is “all the EXTRA LOVE and not having to really share it – it’s all for me, as I get selfish with my kids. That makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”

This story was developed as a part of the Loving Brown Babies campaign from Sac Cultural Hub and was written by Heather Neiman