Mama Said: Motherhood Inspired
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Darnell, 30; Seani, 17; Serenity, 11; Elijah, 12; and Josiah, 9

One misconception folks have about kids who are raised in the ’hood is that they have no home training. When we go to more affluent neighborhoods, and even when we visit some churches, people just assume that my children have no manners and are uneducated. But my kids do not have rough edges. Just the other day, Josiah was in a store with me and he mispronounced a word. He said, “Mom, that word sounded like something else. Did I just cuss? Because I do not want to. I want to be obedient.” I had to smile. Serenity has a gift for writing; she entered an essay into a contest and won us a brand-new Saturn SL1!

Our zip code has been called the most dangerous in Kansas City.  This concerns me as a single parent. Random shootings keep me up at night; I’ve called the police three times about nearby gunfire. We have a spacious fenced-in yard that my children never play in for fear they will get hit by a stray bullet. In fact, there is a bullet hole in our living room window now. I’m concerned about drugs also. My kids can’t ride the Metro bus without being sickened by the smell of marijuana, and sometimes I see drug dealers by our driveway. Neighbors often call the police anonymously to get them off the block.

My son Elijah loves hip-hop. He likes to imitate behavior. He thinks it is cool to go to jail like some of the rappers have done, and I want to make sure he associates himself with the right crowd rather than the wrong one.

I’d love to see moms in this community support each other emotionally and look out for one another more.

Last year was especially tough. In the past, I was in an abusive relationship. My abuser located us, and we had to move into another domestic violence shelter. My children are tight-knit. They have been through much adversity but still are very loving. They have grown closer to me through the hard times.

My most meaningful Mother’s Day was when the kids saved up and bought me a ring with a rose on it and made me handmade cards. They told me they loved me, and Serenity said, ‘Mom you have strong faith.’ My kids are such a blessing.

The Gay Mom

“She calls us both ‘Mom.”

Renee Perrier, 42  |  social worker/child protective services supervisor  Washington, D.C  |  Child: Amaris, 3

I began a relationship with my partner, Karen, six years ago, and it was a gift that she also wanted a family. That desire eventually led us to a fertility clinic, an anonymous donor and my becoming inseminated. My first Mother’s Day was so special. It was great to receive congratulations and cards because my dream of motherhood had finally come true. I love children and the gift that they bring to the world.

Amaris makes me smile every day. She’s such an incredible child. She grabs my face and says, ‘I love you hard!’ What amazes me the most about our relationship is the overwhelming love. I see her walking around, and I just adore her. My happiest moments as a parent over the last year have been watching Amaris grow.

She calls us both “Mom.” That was a decision that Karen and I made during pregnancy.

The biggest misconception about gays or lesbians raising children is that we are somehow different. Karen and I go to work, come home and pay our mortgage,  like any other couple.  I just choose to spend my life with a woman. What are people afraid of? If you walk past us, you wouldn’t be afraid.

Children have endless energy. My toughest parenting moments are usually when I’m tired. Karen is my anchor. When I’m exhausted, she will say, “Take a time out. I got this.” I appreciate that. Karen and I both work in children’s social services. We balance work and family by juggling tasks. We have a routine and always communicate if we can’t stick to it.

What keeps me up at night? I work in child protective services, and what I see every day—the horror, the abuse—sometimes makes me worry about Amaris. But when I watch my baby—her language and confidence, her diverse friends—then I feel that I’ve succeeded so far as a parent.

If we need help or support, we reach to our “village”—Amaris’ godmother or godfather or a neighborhood friend. Neighbors usually help with information, such as which schools are better. They also offer moral support. I told one neighbor that Karen and I are to be married on June 16. There were so many well wishes from all the neighbors. It was overwhelming!

The Mom of Special-Needs Children

“I want my boys to have the same opportunities as everyone else’s children.”

Shae