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Word on the Street: The Mother's Day Edition

May 4, 2011

Word on the Street: The Mother's Day Edition

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked mothers who are living with HIV/AIDS: What are the greatest joys and the greatest challenges of being a mom?

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Brenda Chambers

Brenda Chambers

Salt Lake City, UT; Diagnosed in 2003; Four children

I would have to say the hardest thing about being a mother is to allow your children to have their own experiences and not try to shield them from naturally occurring consequences. My youngest son is 22 years old and is going back to jail because he failed a urine analysis on probation, and part of me wants to go to the judge and ask for another chance, but the logical part of me says that he has to learn from his mistakes, even if they make my heart sad. It is hard to see him not take responsibility for the actions that placed him in this situation. He is such a loving person, so it is hard to think about him being stuck in a jail cell for 23 hours a day. But I have to let him grow and learn, no matter how much it hurts me or him.

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Patricia Clark

Patricia Clark

Kalamazoo, Mich.; Diagnosed in 1991; One adoptive daughter (14); one nephew (18)

I have no birth children but a nephew, now 18, who I was blessed to be able to be a second mom to; and a 14-year-old daughter, who has been with me since she was 6 years old. The greatest joy for me as a mom is that wonderful high I get from the love that seems to emanate from children. I feed off it! Now that they are older the highs are very different, they carry a deeper tone and are not as frequent. I love to see them grow and cherish the notion that I will be here for them. Back when I was newly diagnosed (19 years ago) I didn't have that reassurance as we didn't think people living with HIV could survive as long. I am seeing them grow to maturity safe in knowing that, barring something extreme, I will continue to be a part of their lives for some time. I love to see what kind of people they are growing into. Imagining them as adults was all I could do before; now I am seeing it come to be. They still continue to "feed" me but in different ways.

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Shana Cozad

Shana Cozad

Tulsa, Okla.; Diagnosed in 1993; Three children: James (20), Danica (10) and Mallory (8)

Peanut butter 'n' jelly sandwiches. Scraped knees. Little hands. Homemade presents. Report cards. Bedtime stories. Chasing the monsters away from under the bed ... Fast food. Faster errands. Late nights. High temps. Sleepovers. Popcorn messes. Lovely dyed Easter eggs!! Video games. Grape soda. Non-eaten vegetables. Shampoos in the eyes. Lollipops. Playgrounds. ... and mommy cards saying "You're the BEST mommy ever!" ... Birthday parties. Garage sales. New shoes. Cartoons on Forever! Tylenol. Dentists. ... Singing 100 lullabies till sleep does come. Doctor visits. Potato chips. Endless laundry. Grandmas and grandpas. New best friends. School vacations. ... Teaching awareness, understanding, compassion of all the people living with HIV.

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Brooke Davidoff

Brooke Davidoff

Seattle, Wash.; Diagnosed in 2010; One son: Myles (9 1/2 months)

Myles saved my life -- without him I'd have no IDEA I have AIDS. I would have a lot less to live for. He keeps me going; he's my motivation for LIFE. Challenge: trying not to act like the plague when I cut myself. Having the energy to do it all being a full-time working mom, wife and writer -- I run out of hours in the day. Having the money to let his daddy continue to be a stay-home dad.

Teniecka Drake

Teniecka Drake

Colorado Springs, Colo.; Diagnosed in 2001; Three children, ages 2, 1 and 7 months

My biggest challenge for my children, because they are so young, is getting them to listen. My children being 2, 1 and 7 months is a challenge in itself. The children are always getting into everything and causing each other physical harm. Now while that is currently my biggest challenge, my children bring me joy. The greatest joy I have found is in their laughs, smiles, and just having them. My children are quite a blessing to me. I remember finding out I was with child, and I told God "Thank you, for sending me one of your precious angels to care for." Children are a gift and to be blessed with three gifts is truly a joy! I love being a mother!

J'Mia Edwards

J'Mia Edwards

Washington, D.C.; Diagnosed in 2005; Three children: Ja'Waun (11), Terry (9) and Arianna (3)

My greatest joy of being a mother is the unconditional love that each one of my kids shows me, which has increased since me telling them I have AIDS. My oldest son is like my father -- always making sure that I take my meds, making sure I eat and helping take care of his brother and sister. My youngest son is more sensitive, asking me if I need a foot massage -- he likes to make sure I'm relaxed. My baby girl is always hugging and kissing on me. My greatest challenge as a mother is learning to balance work, kids and my AIDS. I try my best not to let my kids know when I'm feeling sick so they won't worry about me. I tell them to let Mommy worry. This last year and a half I have learned that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger. My kids are my strength and they are my support system all the time; even when they are put on punishment they still love me.

Antionettea Etienne

Antionettea Etienne

New York, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1997; Two daughters, two grandsons

One of the greatest joys of being a mom was to see my children grow up without ill health, incarceration or domestic violence and drugs issues. Considering that I have sold and used drugs, was incarcerated for a number of years, dealt with HIV and cancer and have two beautiful daughters and two wonderful and handsome grandsons, I feel so blessed. I have received so much support, love, respect and understanding from them that at times, I want to dance in Macy's front window, my crown of locks flowing back and forth with happiness. There are tears of joy within my heart and down my face. They understand my need to travel all over the world educating as many people as cross my path. They lift me up in prayer when I am not feeling well. Am I blessed or not? They make me proud each and every day to be their mom.

Kelly

Kelly

Connecticut; Diagnosed in 2009; Four sons

The greatest challenge of motherhood is not being the so-called perfect mother. I have four boys and being the only female in the home they look at me differently and expect different responses from me than I expected from my mom. Boys tend to want their mom to be perfect and not have any flaws. Let's face it: They tend to marry someone just like their mother and in their eyes we can do no wrong; so when we are faced with a challenge in life, we are not supposed to break down but overcome and become stronger. The greatest joy that I've gotten out of being a mother is overcoming my fears and winning my life's challenges and becoming a stronger woman who now sees that strength, determination and "faith in themselves" in my sons.

Rusti Miller-Hill

Rusti Miller-Hill

New York, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1991; Two children, ages 34 and 16; two grandchildren, 14 and 8

I am the mother of a 34-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. I also am grandmother of two beautiful children ages 14 and 8. The joy and/or the challenge had nothing to do with living with the virus; it is parenting two different children -- one female, one male -- each bringing an individual and unique experience to my life. Being a mother has provided the warmth of being wrapped in layers of love, wisdom, patience and forgiveness for all of us as a family. This is also the bond that holds us together.

Yvette R. Ogletree

Yvette R. Ogletree

California; Diagnosed in 2003; Two daughters

The hardest part of being a mother is seeing your children sad, in pain or making a mistake. There are going to be times when a child is sad, and there is nothing you can do to console her. Seeing your little one with any scratch, bump or bruise only makes her stronger and more careful. Most mistakes your teen makes are going to teach her to do better in the future. As a mother it is always hard to see your child hurt, no matter what the circumstance or end results are.

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Marama Pala

Marama Pala

Waikanae, New Zealand; Diagnosed in 1993; One daughter (4 1/2) and one son (18 months)

Believing that my HIV status would ruin any chance of being a mother, I'm pleased to say, two kids later: They are my greatest JOY!!!! My children are the light, the air and the beauty I live for. They make me laugh, cry and just be happy to be alive. The changes in them every day confound me. I wish I could make time stop and keep them my babies, but alas they are growing, getting more adventurous and more astonishing. The challenge I face is how can I ever say "no" to these wonderful gifts from God?!

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams

Brooklyn, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1993; Three daughters

The best part of being a mom is watching your babies grow into independent focused individuals. This is when you know that all of your preaching and teaching has actually paid off. My three daughters are so different but they come from the same place. I worry about them all the time but I know that I have given them the tools to take care of themselves. So far, so good.

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