The role of the mother was unraveled in intimate and genuine conversations with Joy Branwell, Jody Steinhauer, Jo Lean, Akunna Nwagha, and Daniela Luchetta, as a preamble to our Legacy Builders event honoring mothers in their way ... And guess what? We add to that the vision of an empowered daughter Spencer Simon.
Talking to these amazing women made us realize that they were not alone. Although growing is sometimes a lonely process, maturity of thought and strength of spirit are in part a consequence of what others have brought into them. Mothers, foster mothers, mentors, modelers... All have left their legacy in them, one they decided in return to perpetuate.
“I hope to pass along the wisdom and legacy from my own mother to my son. I want to pass along how important it is to have a vision in your life, and how surrounding yourself with mentors and people you can look up to is an important step.” Joy Barnwell.
“I would like to pass along my mother's legacy to my children as well. I want my children to grow up with faith, and I wish that they will come to their own faith on their own terms...The second thing is excellence... Always make sure you are living intentionally. Who you are, influences what you do.” Akunna Nwagha.
“What I wish for my kids is that they go out and find something that they are passionate about.” Jody Steinhauer.
A mother's legacy appears in itself to be a chain of positive actions; it is the butterfly effect, the stone that you throw into the river, and that produces a small wave, which in turn waters a flower many kilometers away. That is the reason why we cannot underestimate a mother's power and influence towards her children, her environment, and others. With this in mind, Daniela Luchetta and Jo Lean shared valuable insights about their mothers:
“The best advice I got from my mom was not her words, but her actions... She would go out of her way to look out for women coming up behind her and did her best to give what she had to those who needed it. I try to remember that in how I carry myself today - we don’t get ahead without helping our sisters and brothers come up alongside us.” Daniela Luchetta.
“She is someone who is looking to help others in any way she can. I believe the legacy that she has left me is to be that kind loving person. Not only for myself, but for others as well.” Jo Lean.
Beyond observing the role of the mother as a social construction, the mothers, aunts, friends, mentors with whom we talked showed us that the biological code associated with motherhood is not everything. The role of the mother is not a label but rather an honorable feat that multiplies and reproduces naturally, making the structure of society vibrates in its values and forms.
“One must always remember that your plan is a journey, not a destination, and sometimes you will need positive role models to help inspire you and make revisions to your plan.” Joy Barnwell.
"I’m fortunate to have a lot of adoptive mothers in my life. One of them always said to me - always do your best, and be the best at everything that you are passionate about. Always strive to work a little harder and be a little bit better. Also, go after what you love! Another one of my adoptive mothers always said, don’t worry about what everybody thinks, just do what you love to do.” Jody Steinhauer.
“I come from Nigeria, and in the African community, family is communal. Family is everyone around you... Because of this, you would have lots of mothers, my mom’s friends, my aunt, my mom’s cousins were all moms to me and, I think that was very valuable. It’s very important to have people around you to look up to.” Akunna Nwagha.
“I’m not a mother yet, but I do have a lot of nieces. In that sense, I would hope that the legacy we are building is in a culture of acceptance and being strong female forces in this world, breaking stereotypes and expectations of women in this society.” Daniela Luchetta.
“I would love to leave the legacy that lets every single person know that they are worthy of love, period. And that they can love.” “Another thing I would love to leave is that true happiness does come from within, and to really find things to fill your cup and bring you joy, laughter, and adventure.” Jo Lean.
And although there is no clear model of motherhood, we learn from those inspiring women that directly or indirectly, mothers build an empire through example. It is often accompanied by advice and powerful vision... Qualities transformed into transcendental capabilities.
“My mother was an amazing woman, an absolute visionary.” “A Mother is many things, a guide, and a mentor... Most of all, she is a collaborator, and creative counterpart to help you set your road map and vision.” Joy Barnwell.
“Another thing I have learned from just watching my mother is gratitude... She influenced me much more than she could know, not just by what she told me, but by the way she lived.” Akunna Nwagha
"Everything happens for a reason. This is something I live by!” and “Never show up empty-handed!” Spencer Simon.
“It doesn’t matter where you came from, we’re all going to the same place. We can’t take our money with us, so no judgment. Also, everyone has a backstory. Be kind to everyone” Jody Steinhauer’s mom.
To close with a flourish, we take the words of Daniela Luchetta and Jo Lean about the role of the mother:
“That’s what makes a mother figure, showing that caring, sometimes tough love, leading others, showing up strongly, and leading by example!” Daniela Luchetta.
“What comes to mind is unconditionally loving yourself first, and then giving from an overfilled cup. She puts herself first so she can give from a whole entire place. She is kind, loving, accepting, and compassionate of herself with others. It is important to be vulnerable and ask for lots of help and support.” Jo Lean.
Don't miss the full interviews. These wonderful women have a lot to share.