Life in Baltimore: Celebrating our mothers

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— The modern American Mother’s Day holiday was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday began in 1905. Several states officially recognized Mother’s Day in 1910, however in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation to honor mothers with a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday in May.

Mothers are unique individuals who exhibit unconditional love and support. They are the natural strength of the family, like a tree trunk that supports the branches of a tree, mothers support the dynamics of the family. A mother is someone who loves her children and in many cases loves the children of others. She spreads her wings of joy, comfort and compassion. During this beautiful month of May, new mothers, mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers will be highlighted. Each one has a different approach to child rearing, but there is a common thread among them, which is love. Celebrate our Mothers!

New mom, Arnelle Renae Boglin feels that her outlook on life changed as soon as she became pregnant. Now she takes time to think before making decisions to ensure that it will have a positive effect on son, Joshua. Watching Joshua grow, learn new skills and take his first steps is a beautiful experience to witness.

While working, Arnelle’s mother and grandparents assist with child care because she is uncomfortable putting a twelve month old in care of someone outside of family. Arnelle states “Most of all, I enjoy spending my time being an active mother. I come from a very large and very close family who spend lots of quality time together. My mother has been the perfect example of motherhood to me, so I know that I have a great foundation to follow which comes from my grandmother. That’s three generations. I have a little boy who smiles whenever he sees my face, which brings so much love and joy to my heart. Motherhood is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I cannot imagine my life without my precious baby. He is truly a blessing!”

Before becoming a mom, Aja Page Hill had the impression that being a mom was for women who were ready to stop life and solely focus on being a great parent. She thought Sunday brunches with friends, weekly manicures and trips would come to a screeching halt. Thankfully, she got over that with the arrival of new baby, Ryder. She realizes that being a mom means being the best person possible in order to mold a responsible, caring and intelligent child. Aja makes time for baby, husband Walter, and herself.

Four months into being a new mommy, the Hills had the opportunity to travel to Rome, Italy and guess who they took.Yes, baby Ryder. Aja states “before becoming a mommy I would not have dared taking a trip to Rome with an infant, but the real mommy in me knew as long as he was with his parents, he would be safe and well cared for. Being there helped to reaffirm my notion that just because you have a baby life doesn’t stop, it begins. As a new mom in my thirties, maybe even considered a millennial mom, my baby has seen more in his now five months of life that I saw even into my twenties. To me, that’s what being a mommy is about.”

Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson

Being a mother is quite challenging under the best circumstances. By some standards in the late 1970’s Patricia Richardson would be considered to be somewhat “old” to start having children. Her first pregnancy was at the age of 30 ended in a miscarriage. Two subsequent pregnancies at the age of 33 and 36 ended with two beautiful children. Patricia states that it is amazing how attached you become to an unborn child. You are already bonded for life. She expresses “I’ve been fortunate enough to have two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, a step daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren, one boy and two girls. I feel as being a middle school teacher, I was “mom” to many of them. I felt often as if I was a gigantic magnet and they were paper clips. Whenever I would send them away, they would come right back seeking love, attention and whatever else was needed at that time. It could be overwhelming at times.”

Patricia’s biggest challenges as a mother came after the birth of her daughter. She had a normal pregnancy and delivered a healthy child. At the age of four months, the baby was given the DPT shot as part of her immunization. Unfortunately, she had a severe reaction to the shot, which resulted in an extremely high fever, inconsolable crying and seizures. The seizures left her brain damaged. She explains” talking about feeling helpless and not knowing what to do for your child makes you feel like a failure.” Her daughter is currently 32 years old but functions as an infant under the age of a year. Needless to say, her care became a priority. She was able to keep her home until age 19. By then Patricia was physically unable to provide the care her daughter required. Her daughter was placed with Chimes, Inc. where she lives in a group home only 5 minutes from away from her mother. Patricia sees her often and tries to make all of her appointments. She has been pleased with her care.

Even though her daughter demanded a lot, it was just as important for her son to have a life as normal as possible. So it was a priority to make sure he felt loved, wanted and needed. It was important to develop his emotional, physical and spiritual sides. Weekends were spent at baseball, soccer, lacrosse practices or games. Patricia states “Motherhood is challenging within itself, even if you do not have a disabled child. Making sure each child gets what he or she needs can often be exhausting. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s frightening knowing you are responsible for another life. You have that life in the palm of your hands. As they develop, so do you and you rise to the challenge?”

May is a very special month for Regina Bernard. April 30th is her birthday; her oldest son’s birthday is six days after hers and in close proximity to Mother’s Day. Also, her mother’s birth date is May 19th. She states “this lovely spring month speaks to me of love, celebration and family. May is an ideal time to reflect on motherhood.”

Regina Bernard

Regina Bernard

Regina is an only child raised by loving and protective parents in Vienna, Maryland, a small rural town in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore. Vienna was a town of strong families and where both of her parents could trace their roots for generations. She is currently working to document this ancestral history for her children.

Regina has four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren who share a special place in her heart, home and motherly affections. Regina believes the mothering of her children started long before their first child was born. It started with our ancestral mothers generations ago both maternal and paternal. She exclaims, “I salute the generations of mothers who formed an ongoing village of love, caring sacrifice, faith, knowledge, patience, hope, happiness, joy, discipline, mindfulness, talents, and intelligence as a legacy for our parenting.”

Like most mothers, when her first child was born, she had no prior knowledge of child care but with the village behind her, husband beside her and Doctor Spock’s book on child care in her hand, parenting began and continues. Her greatest resource as a mother was the love she felt for each child and how blessed she was to share in the development of such precious human beings. Regina states “one of the greatest challenges was to teach my sons to be responsible, strong, competent and confident individuals. However, this was an era when I had to let them know that black boys and men exhibiting these qualities were often treated with suspicion by the police. This dualism presented a challenge for our family. My children and grandchildren are wonderful loving, caring, strong, competent, confident and productive adults and my great grandchildren are growing and developing beautifully as their parents love and protect them. Motherhood can only be described as a labor of love.”