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Saturday, May 13, 2006 

MOTHERS - The backbone of Caribbean society
Friday May 12 2006
by V. Iothie Wyre

The role the mother plays in the home is very important in Caribbean family structure.
She is main provider for her family’s social, educational and economic needs, in most of our families, the main or dominant person for training her child/children and the transmitter of the cultural morals in relation to the acceptable forms of behaviours in the society.

Papa Sammy, in the book To Shoot Hard Labour, mentions some of the disciplinary experiences his mother treasured.

“My mother always use to say that when you are walking, you must push your legs forward and keep your back up so you wont need a walking stick before you really have to use one.

"Have at least two bowel activities a day. To keep the system free of waste, eat greens of all kinds. Cassie, paw paw, spinach, peas and things of that kind. Use them with anything you have to eat.”

Jamaica Kincaid (an Antiguan writer) reporting on her childhood experiences mentions that her mother, Annie Drew took time out to instruct her on some of the traditions of Antiguan culture.
Some of the instructions included the methods used for sweeping the house, sweeping the yard, setting a table for breakfast, setting a table for lunch, setting a table for dinner, setting the table for dinner with an important guest, making bread-pudding, making doucana, cooking pepperpot and the method of how to make ends meet (how to economise – spend economically).

Although the schools in their home economics Department, have been doing a lot of training in Home Economics, the mother’s input is still very important.

A mother should be friendly, caring, open, respectful, impartial, a good listener, a clarifyer, a good motivator, understanding and a disciplinarian.

In addition to these qualities, the mother needs to be an investigator, a confidant, an instructor, a communicator, a spiritual role model and advisor.

The relationship between the mother and her sibling(s) is crucial. Mothers should be a good role model in the home and community.

Mothers should spend quality time with their children, converse with them. This is difficult sometimes but mothers should employ every “nerve and sinew” to create a harmonious relationship with her offsprings.

The size of the family might be a significant determinant which could affect the extent of the nurturing experiences, mothers can provide to her child/their children. The extended family has contributed and still contributes to child-rearing in the Caribbean and it is an acceptable adage that "it takes a whole village to raise a child.”

Papa Sammy’s mother Margarette had 18 children, nine females, nine males. He describes his mother as a strong woman. She had her children over a twenty-three year period, without the help of a nurse. He also states that “a lot of times”, she worked up to the last day before the child was born. His grandmother, Countis, helped to care her daughter’s children so that her daughter Margarette could go to work.

Nesha Haniff, in Blaze of Fire”, (1988), a book which records the significant contributionsof Caribbean women, mentions the experiences of a Trinidadian mother ,
Didi (a fictitious name) had 10 children, her husband and her were sugar workers. Didi spent most of her life working on the sugar plantation as a cane cutter. She became a union spokeswoman for her fellow workers.

Her activities as chief negotiator for the workers and as a cane cutter were non-traditional female roles. Two of Didi’s children were born in the cane field. She worked in the cane field until the day she delivered her baby and was back out to work the following day.

In those days everyday away from work meant a loss in pay, and that loss of pay was crucial to the economic support she or any of the other sugar workers needed to support their family
In many countries because of the advocacy of many women’s organisation sand Trade Unions, mothers now have “Maternity Leave” with pay, which allows them to stay at home for a period after delivery.

For example some female workers receive three months maternity leave.
This legislation enables the mother to create a bond between her child and herself during the "weaning” period.

A Freetownian Susannah Brodie, wife of the late Albert Brodie (deceased, mothered 17 children, 12 females and five males. Three females and one male have predeceased her. Brodie asserts that her extended family gave her complementary and reliable support to her husband and herself in raising their children.

Mavis Rose of Liberta, wife of Reuben Rose, has mothered 18 children, 10 females and eight males. Three have predeceased her, two girls and one boy.

Rose has mentioned how her husband offered untiring and commendable support to her in the raising of their children. He is a mason and they had their ground (agricultural plot of land) on which they grew sweet potatoes, cassava and green figs which formed part of the staple diet to feed their family.

I also wish to highlight another Antiguan mother, Sylvia Walker, wife of Eustace Walker, owner /manager of Walker’s Trading Agency.

Sylvia is the mother of three children, a daughter who is presently pursuing studies related to the completion of a Ph.D. in Engineering and her two sons are pursuing academic courses for the completion of the BSc. Degree in Business Administration at Universities in England and Canada.
Sylvia is a graduate of the Princess Margaret School where she successfully completed her secondary education. She is also a graduate of the University of the West, Indies, holding a Certificate in Public Administration and a graduate of the Barbados Community College, where she gained a Certificate in Para-Legal studies

Sylvia is a civil servant and is the clerk to Parliament- a post she has held for eight years. Sylvia has to sit through every session of Parliament even if the session is not completed until 3 a.m. the following day. Sylvia is a Methodist and is regularly present at all her church activities at Ebenezer and other societies in the Circuit.

This mother is certainly equipped with the necessary skills to juggle the responsibilities of her job, her career, her home and her spiritual development.

Mothers the world over can be good role models in their homes, their communities and in their nation or state.

Be a friend of your children. Do not take over the conversations but let the dialogue be reciprocal.

Have respect for your children’s ideas, fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Tell them about your history – your initial upbringing, the legacies of your family, your culture, your fond complimentary and uncomplimentary activities.

Ensure that they exhibit acceptable standards of behaviours .When they make you angry, be careful not to humiliate them. Allow them to exercise their independence, but do not misuse the “length of the rope “you offer to them in good faith. Set your limits.

Teach them to act responsibly to enable them to differentiate right from wrong behavioural attitudes (habits).

Be a good guide to your child/children. It is better to gain your child’s respect and love than to have your hating and being afraid of you.

Mothers (biological and non-biological) enjoy your day, Mother’s Day, 2006 and recommit yourself to the uncompromising role of being a responsible mother.

© SUN Printing & Publishing LTD 2003-2004. All Rights Reserved.

very helpful article for me.
Memorial Day images 2014

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