Our Mothers: Newark

Imani, 26

Asiyah, 5


"My mom was very independent. She did whatever she needed to do, without asking for any help. Everyday she went to work. No calling out. I got that from her. I started working at a young age, so I learned to be independent. I try to make sure that I'm never in a position where I have to ask anybody for anything...My mom also didn't have a lot of men in and out of my life, so I learned that from her too. I don't let people meet my daughter. You can meet me, but you can't meet my daughter. I see that a lot in the news; kids getting killed by their mothers' boyfriends or significant other. You can't just have your kids around anybody. Even some family can't be trusted. It took me a long time to let her stay with anyone other than me. When she got old enough to talk and tell me everything that happened from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed, that's when I got comfortable. And she's also very protective of me. Her name, Asiyah, means to heal and protect. We do that a lot for each other."

"Growing up, I also learned a lot from my father. He's a fighter. When I was in high school, he was in and out of the hospital, with 40+ surgeries. He had an aneurysm in his stomach that ruptured. He's an amputee. So many times I got calls about making arrangements and them telling me how his situation wasn't looking good. I was in the hospital everyday, after school. It was kinda' tough emotionally, but I feel like it prepared me to be a good mom. We talked a lot about funerals, and how I would manage and take care of the family if he passed. I was the only child so I had to learn how to be strong." 

"I try to teach her to do things herself. I just want her to be able to take care of herself, 'cause I'm not gonna' always be here. You have to know how to tie your shoes. You have to be able to reach that toilet paper. You have to get up and go get your own water. I can't do it all the time. She'll tell me I'm being mean, but I want her to learn. You can't develop a habit of asking people for things. I teach her how to watch the dishes, and make cereal. She has to learn, but she also has a support system. I just don't want to ever leave, feeling like my child is going to be out here with her hand out."


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"Raising a kid in Newark can be hard. I've seen the downsides. Kids start off fine, then they grow up and you're like, What happened to him? What happened to her? You can't put a straight jacket on kids, though. I try to let her be herself, but also teach her as she goes and hope for the best. She's her own person. So I can't say 'Oh my child is gonna go to school and be a doctor.' She might not want to be a doctor. Regardless, I have to support her. I think it's more important to teach her discipline while she's young, so that whatever she decides to do, she'll be serious about it."

"My biggest priority is to save for college, so we have savings accounts and bonds. That's my focus. To make sure she learns everything. To make sure she's on the right path to be successful. She likes to dance and she's very smart. Also very athletic. She just gotta' keep it up. They start off good, but you know, as they get older, they get curious and try to explore. I just want to keep her on a straight path."



"I love being her mom. I love going to the hair salon, the nail salon, the mall, and the stores with her. The fun videos on Snapchat... She's just a ball of fun. Sometimes I wish I could take my daughter to the club with me. She's so fun to be with. Her being a little girl can be challenging, though. Our patience is the same.  When she doesn't get her way, she gets very sassy. I'm like, Girlll. That's all I say when I get mad at her. She's a good kid, though. She listens."

"I fear the thought of her not being prepared if something happens to me. No matter what age she is, I want her to know: my mother triedMy mother worked hard for me and my mother was there for me and she showed me the woman I'm supposed to be. I also have a fear of other people. You never know what peoples motives are or who might wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Because of that, having a kid can be scary."


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"My happiest moment as a mom was when she started walking. It was so unexpected. I was at work, and they FaceTimed me, and she was just walking. I was like, 'How? Were y'all upstairs practicing?' They were like 'No, she just walked. By herself.' Had no idea, she just got up and went. She was 1. I cried like a baby at work. That's probably my most memorable moment, 'cause she did it on her own."


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"I want her to be better than me. I didn't go to school. I'm still indecisive as to what I want to do. She tells me she wants to be a vet, and I can see that in her. She loves the zoo. She loves animals. My stepfather has a fish tank and he goes and buys the little goldfish to feed them. And she has a heart attack every time. She hates that so much. It's like the end of the world for her. She cries and everything. Another time, we had a fish and we had to take it out 'cause it was trying to eat all the other fish. It fell onto the floor, and she saw it first. The whole house thought something major happened, 'cause she just screamed. I'm like 'What's wrong?' She's was like 'the fish is on the floor and it's gonna die!' So for her know that's what she wants to do, and for me to actually witness her passion, I can see my baby being a vet."


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"I just want her to know that I love her to death. There's nothing that I wouldn't do for her. I can get emotional 'cause that's a thought that goes through my mind, like what if I don't make it home to her? You have to be realistic about certain things and I want my daughter to know that even in the afterlife, I'm still here. So I'm never too far."