Mama Said: Motherhood Inspired

Whether she’s raising a brood of five on her own, parenting from a war zone, earning her diploma  and homeschooling or caring for little ones with special needs, no one’s more resilient, resourceful or radiant than an African-American mom. In their own words, seven extraordinary women share their passion for parenting.

Interviews by Claire McIntosh with Rod McCollum

The Multiples Mom

“Raising triplets is challenging. But I have a system and lots of help.”

Notoya Green, 36 | stay-at-home-mom/blogger | New York City Children: David, Eva and Samuel, 19 months

Before becoming a mother, I worked full time as a practicing attorney. My husband and I went to law school together, started a business together, and now we have triplets. Our babies were born prematurely, so sometimes I get stressed about whether they will meet all their developmental milestones. Thankfully, they have so far! My kids are pretty smart.

Making the transition to being home with my kids was difficult. I work grueling hours (much more grueling than my attorney days), except now my work conversations are about burps, poopy diapers and Gymbo the Clown. My blog, tripletsintribeca, gives me an outlet. It allows me to carve out a part of my world that is just for me.

Raising triplets can be challenging. I’m a great mom, but I am just one person with one pair of arms, and it is physically impossible to take care of three babies at once—especially when all three are crying at the same time.

I depend on a lot of people. I have to. My family lives in New York City. My mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and sister help out in a big way. I also have one full-time nanny and one part-time nanny, as well as a full-time housekeeper, which makes me very lucky.

It literally takes a team to get us out the door. It would be much easier to stay home; but I sign them up for every toddler program I can find because I know it’s important for their development. These classes also don’t come cheap, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make my kids more successful in school and in life. I usually have at least one other person with me—sometimes two, if we go to Mommy and Me.  

Sometimes, none of my helpers shows up on a given day for whatever reason, and I have to get through it alone, from feedings to bath time. It can be tough.  Recently, the triplets all got sick at the same time, and it was so stressful. It also took longer to nurse them to wellness because they share the same toys and pass germs back and forth. I belong to a group for mothers of multiples, and it has helped a lot to spend time with others who know what it’s like.

The best support anyone can offer a parent like me is to offer to pick up groceries at Whole Foods or to go to Babies “R” Us to get something we need.

Most people assume I never sleep, but I’ve got a system: I’ve trained my kids to sleep through the night and at certain times during the day. It makes a huge difference.

What amazes me most about my children is how different they are from each other, even though they are triplets, and how different my relationship with each of them is.

Last Mother’s Day, I got an entire day off while my husband and others took care of the babies. I went shopping in SoHo, got a manicure and had dinner at a favorite restaurant. But now that they’re talking, the best gift of all is hearing my three call me “Mama.” That is music to my ears!

The Single Mom

“There seems to be more of a stigma for African-American single mothers.”

Tiffany Fitzgerald, 39 government relations coordinator

Davenport, Iowa  |  Children: Nailah, 18; Eric, 15; and Maya, 14

One year, my kids made me handmade cards on Father’s Day. I knew they understood what I am trying to do: be everything for them.

There seems to be more of a stigma associated with being an African-American single mother. I think people don’t believe any of us actually marry our children’s father. I also think people believe that we have children by several different “baby daddies” and that we got knocked up at 15.

I married young—at 21—and didn’t take the time to really understand what marriage was and what kind of man I really wanted in my life forever. As I grew as a person and began to develop a stronger sense of self-worth, I filed for divorce. I thought about the type of role model I wanted my son to have, and the example of a husband I wanted my daughters to have.

It amazes me that my children understand so much about my life and still trust me. I have been