Mothers are honored, officially at least, this Sunday on Mother’s Day. But motherhood is a year round, 24/7 proposition.
In anticipation of mom’s special day, The Times asked Island moms of kids from newborns to adults to weigh in on the challenges and rewards of child rearing.
Eva Rawposa is a raw food chef and instructor who gave birth to her first child six months ago. Although Ms. Rawposa is a high energy, athletic and very health conscious 29-year-old, she had unrealistic expectations about how much she would be able to handle during her daughter Lilla’s first few months.
She had planned to continue hosting raw food getaways for clients, but soon discovered that just cooking for herself and her family had become difficult. “I had this crazy idea when I was pregnant.” she said, “I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to continue doing the raw food B & B this year and I said, ‘Sure. I’m going to get one of those kangaroo pouches and she’ll do whatever I do. It’s really funny when I look back at that. I can’t even hold a knife. She’ll reach around and grab it. She’s crawling now and she goes wherever she wants.”
You don’t realize how much of the time you’re going to be holding the baby,” Ms. Rawposa said, “Nobody tells you what to really expect. They tell you bits and pieces.”
However, Ms. Rawposa has found that retooling how she conducts her business is a small price to pay for all that she has gained emotionally with motherhood. “I see everything differently now,” she said, “In the past I could sometimes get annoyed with people. Now I look at everybody differently – that’s somebody’s kid. It doesn’t matter how old they are. It doesn’t matter how unpleasant. Whatever someone’s faults are it’s because of something that happened between when they were a little baby and now. It’s a lot easier to be forgiving when you think that someone was once so perfect and innocent and sweet.”
Shawn Taylor of Oak Bluffs is a single mom of a 13-year-old daughter, Ryan Schere, who attends the Oak Bluffs School. Ms. Taylor has been divorced for five years but her ex, who also lives on the Vineyard, is still very much a part of her daughter’s life. Ms. Taylor said she has a very close relationship with her teenage daughter, something not all parents are fortunate enough to enjoy.
“More than anything we talk and laugh,” she said, “She’s a comedian. She loves to laugh. She entertains. me.” Of the challenges unique to raising a teen, Ms. Taylor said, “Obviously, like all kids, she has a lot of questions. I try to make sure I give her the best answers I can. As she gets older, the type of questions change. I just want to always be as honest with her as possible.”
Ms. Taylor was born outside of Geneva, Switzerland. Her family relocated many times to different countries while she was growing up. “I went to at least ten different schools,” she said, “That was something that was really difficult for me.”
She is making every effort to give her daughter more stability than she enjoyed as a child. “I wanted her to be in the same house for as much of her life as possible. To be able to establish friendships,” she said.
Ms. Taylor moved to the Vineyard from Scotland when she was 17 years old. She left to live in Vermont for a few years but came back before Ryan was born. ” When I decided to have a child I moved back to the Vineyard,” she said.
Ms. Taylor has found the Island the ideal place to raise a child and has been particularly impressed with the support her daughter has gotten both at school and at the Sense of Wonder summer camp that Ryan attended for many years. “The Oak Bluffs school teachers are a huge part of her life and a huge part of her success as a student.” said Ms. Taylor. “It really does take a village to raise a child.”
Francine Kelly and her adult daughter Ann Smith, both of Oak Bluffs, continue to enjoy a close mother/daughter relationship. Ms. Smith moved to the Vineyard six years ago to work for her mother, who was then the director of the Featherstone Center for the Arts. Ms. Kelly handed over the reigns of the organization to Ms. Smith last year and now serves as the part-time special events coordinator. Essentially their roles have flip-flopped. “She’s my boss,” said Ms. Kelly good-humoredly.
Ms. Kelly, who moved here from Indianapolis nine years ago, had her four children – all girls – within the course of 2 ½; years (Ms. Smith has a twin sister who lives in New Jersey) “I was an only child,” said Ms. Kelly. “That affected my decision to have a lot of children and what I wanted their relationship to each other to be. I wanted a unified unit of four. You think they will be four against the world but it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. They are quite individual. I think parents put a lot on their own expectations.”
Today Ms. Smith and Ms. Kelly make up their own unified unit. Aside from working together, they can often be seen dining out or attending events together. “I was pleased that the board chose her to continue the work.” said Ms. Kelly, “It is gratifying to have someone who shares your interest in the arts. We’re like a team. Wherever we go, it’s Ann and Francine.”
Oak Bluff’s School secretary Carla Hoyt is the adoptive mother of two children – 13 year old Noah from Russia and 10-year-old Chloe from southern China. Ms. Hoyt was in her late twenties when she and her husband adopted her son as a baby. “It was the scariest thing I’d ever done,” she said, “Because we were young. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through the process.”
Ms. Hoyt lost her own mother to a tragic car accident when she was 15. She married her high school sweetheart and tried unsuccessfully for many years to have children. “I went from having my mom die to being motherless,” she said. “I really struggled with that. It took me five years to realize I could be a mom – I just couldn’t be pregnant.” She added, “Had my mom been here that decision would have been easier.”
Ms. Hoyt says that the adoption process was easier and quicker than she expected. Today she belongs to an adoptive parent’s support group and is approached often by others contemplating adoption. She is happy to answer questions and share about her experience. “There’s a huge adoptive community here.” says Ms. Hoyt.
She has been open with her kids about their origins from the beginning. “It was language I used in the house from the day they came here,” she said. The family makes a point of celebrating Chinese New Year and the Hoyts will take their children to their native countries when they are older.
Like Ms. Taylor, Ms. Hoyt and her husband chose the Vineyard as the ideal place to raise kids. “We’re both from small coastal communities,” she said. “We were living in Lowell and sold our house when we knew we wanted to adopt. We wanted to move up here to raise a family.”
Ten years after the adoption of her second child, Ms. Hoyt said, “I can’t imagine my life any different.” She expresses gratitude to the women who enabled her to have a family of her own.
“I wouldn’t have my kids if it wasn’t for their birth mothers and they’re always forgotten on these holidays. They weren’t able to parent for whatever reason but what they did was brave and selfless.”
Mother’s Day for Ms. Hoyt will be no different than an average Sunday for a busy working mom. “I plan to watch my son’s lacrosse game and work in my yard with my family and end the day at mass,” she said.