When it comes to parenting, there is no "right" way to do it. Maybe you've come across the "helicopter mom", or even the mother that is totally open to letting their child navigate their little worlds in their own way.
As mothers of young children, we are often caught between both of these spaces, doing what seems best for each individual child. For me, I treat my two kids as individuals when it comes to how I parent them because, well, they ARE individuals.
But one thing we all end up having in common is that once you become a mother, there is a tiny sliver of your identity that gets thrown away. Kelly Rowland recently spoke with InStyle to discuss this phenomenon, why there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and why it will always be different parenting a Black child in this country.
Chris Craymer for Parents Magazine
Sometime in the last 7 years, I went from "Michelle" to "Mom". And while I take this new name on with pride, I sometimes think back to the days where I was a singular person. Now that so much of my identity is wrapped up in being a mom, I forget what it was like to just be "Michelle", but I wouldn't have it any other way. These days are my haydays.
For Kelly Rowland, the 37-year-old singer says that even though she is one of the most famous faces in the music industry today, to a lot of folks, she's just "Titan's Mom". She tells InStyle:
Fabio Chizzola for People Magazine
"All of [people's] questions are like, 'Well, where's Titan?' or, 'How is Titan?" Now that he's in school, it's like — I'm Titan's mom. I don't have a name. My name is not Kelly, it's Titan's Mom."
As mothers, it's almost impossible to not judge ourselves for the decisions we make and the way we parent on a day-to-day basis. There are more working mothers today than ever before, and for a lot of us, there is a tinge of guilt associated with not being there for every moment of their lives. And even if we were able to do so, that wouldn't make us the perfect mothers either.
The grass is rarely greener, so we have to be able to take the good with the bad and find solace in the fact that perfection is impossible. Our ability to keep going and to learn from our mistakes is the perfect example for our kids: we are their first examples of what it looks like to persevere. Kelly says that her best friend recently reminded her to ignore anyone that might pressure her into thinking that she has to be the perfect mom:
"I was talking to my best friend in Houston, and she said 'Kel, I love you. But you're not the perfect mother — and neither am I. No one is — so whenever someone tries to put that pressure on you, just tell them to go.' You just want to make sure they have this easy life, but [trying to be perfect] doesn't make any sense in the world — they have to understand what falling down, and trying again, and getting back up feels like."
One of the most pressing issues of our times is figuring out how to raise our babies in a world that seems to present more and more racial tension. As mothers, it is our natural instinct to protect our cubs, by any means necessary. Most of the time, however, our only recourse is to teach them how to handle themselves accordingly in the face of racism or attacks against the things they can't control, especially the color of their skin.
Kelly says that right now she puts extra pressure on herself to make sure that her son is excelling so that he doesn't miss any opportunities because of the color of his skin. She revealed:
"When it comes to just being a black mother, the one thing you think about is the life of your child… You think about the fact that their life is just different because of their skin color. It's going to always be different because of their skin color. I put the pressure on myself — I'm like, he has to be great in school, he has to be further along than the other students to make sure he has an extra opportunity."
The hardest thing is to explain to a child is why skin color even matters to some people. They won't stay color blind forever, so the dialogue needs to be open for the uncomfortable questions and we have to be ready to answer these questions with care. Kelly told Instyle:
"Right now, he sees no color because he's only a child… I want him to understand where I'm coming from — I'm still learning how to gather my words to say them all to him."
As parent, having these delicate conversations is our duty, otherwise they might learn about it from someone else.
What did your parents teach you about being a person of color in this world? How do you teach your own children about racism? What do you tell them to do when they are faced with an unfair situation that clearly has to do with race? Let us know in the comments.
To read more of her conversation with InStyle, click here.
Featured image via Kelly Rowland/Instagram