A mother’s journey is personal; a mix of growth, purpose, and hope. In the spirit of Mother’s Day, we sat down with a few women to talk about their dynamic experiences; the history, the struggle, the fears, and the aspirations.

Photos & Interviews by Preet Mangat

Kaylynn (26), son Landon (5)

Your occupation? Social Worker

Social Media? IG: @_ohhh_kayyy


How did becoming a mother impact the direction of your life?

Becoming a mother changed the direction of my life completely, and at first not in the best way.  I found out I was pregnant when I was 20 years old--still going to college & I still had a whole year before I would graduate.  I was nowhere near prepared to become a mother; I was still a kid myself. But I don’t think you’re ever really ready to become a mother. Your journey is different with every pregnancy & every child is different. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, everything changes! It’s like a switch is turned on & the way you feel & think just changes… just like that! Your mama bear instincts kick in lol. But I took on the challenge & I’m glad I did because I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like these past 6 years without Landon. Being a mother is all I know now. Once I found out I was pregnant it became about the baby & less about me; an adjustment to say the least.  Every decision I have made & continue to make, I stop and think “What’s best for Landon?” and “How would this benefit him whether it’s now or in the future?” And sometimes decisions that are made might not always be the best, but that’s all part of Motherhood. No one is perfect.

How do you balance being a mom while pursuing your own personal dreams/goals?

Um...that’s hard.  In all honestly, I have no clue! Finding that balance will always be the most difficult part of being a parent, even if you have the help & are being encouraged to pursue those dreams/goals.  You start feeling that “mom guilt” that people talk about. It’s like you know (or at least hope) that what you’re trying to pursue can benefit your kid but you feel guilty that you’re doing something for you & not focusing on your kid. Luckily I have had a lot of help from my family since my pregnancy & have been able to attain certain goals like graduating from college. But it’s still the most difficult part of parenting, so I’ll let you know when I find out lol.

What are some of your fears and hopes for your son?

My fears? Oh God… Everything! I won’t show it or be one of those overprotective/hovering mothers (that’s just not in my nature lol). And I’ve learned that you don’t experience life that way; you need to live in order to learn. But every moment I have with my son, in the back of mind I’m thinking “Is that gonna scar him for life?””, “Did I handle that correctly?”, or “Is this something that he’s gonna throw in my face when he’s older?” I guess you can say “screwing him up” is my worst fear. I don’t want to raise an asshole either...we have enough of those already lol. My hopes are...I hope that he grows up & he makes a difference in the world; not like a Mother Theresa difference (unless that’s his purpose in life lol), but that those people who have Landon in their life feel like they’ve been given the greatest gift & that he serves a purpose in their lives & (again) isn’t an asshole. I hope he’s not someone that people regret meeting lol. I hope that he grows up to become this amazing man; whether he’s a husband, father, etc... just an overall amazing man. And of course I hope that he is & forever.

Nneka (30), son Malachi (8)

Your occupation? Brand / Cosmetology Educator for Aveda under Estee Lauder. Professional Cutting Coach and Freelance Hairstylist.

Social Media? IG: @nnekaaaaaat_ || IG: @simplythreeohhh_ || Blog:


How has motherhood changed you and/or impacted the direction of your life?

Motherhood has changed why I do certain things but not what I do. I choose certain jobs because I am a mother. I understand my responsibility to another human being and that responsibility to nurture him, support him, and challenge him to be the best human being he can be. I haven’t stopped being ambitious because I have a child, I just understand that I can’t do everything. My time is valuable and if it won’t benefit the big picture, it’s not worth it.

How do you balance being a mom while pursuing your own personal dreams/goals?

Good balance comes from prioritizing, knowing when to say no (self-care), valuing my space/energy, and prayer. Every morning before Malachi gets on the bus for school we say a prayer, “God, protect Malachi from all harm and danger, sickness and disease, & deranged individuals. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.” This is the foundation of the security I feel, knowing that he is covered by the prayers of his mother.  My Village is awesome. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my parents. I don't do this alone and that is the biggest secret to where I am. My parents believe in me, in my vision, and in Malachi’s future. I also know my career doesn’t come before being Malachi's Mom. I didn’t always think like this; I had to overcome a lot of selfishness to get to that moment of realization. If there is ever a time that I can’t make it to a game or event for him, I make sure he still has the support he needs. I also had to give myself permission to not be perfect. The amount of self doubt you can feel as a mother-- about whether you’re doing everything right-- is real. But my dreams are his dreams too.

What are some of your fears and hopes for your son?

My fears are that we live in a world where black boys and men are not valued. I want to protect him from that so bad but I know those are things I cannot control. But that’s why I pray--because I know what I can’t physically do, God can so I can rest easy!
I wish Malachi strength and love in a world that seems to lack it. I don’t want his environment to change that. The world has a way of hardening people, I want him to keep his sensitivity. For him to be the light when it’s not popular to do so. Stand up for good and the pursuit of what’s right. Watch who his friends are because subconsciously the people around him will motivate him to either go to higher ground or to be complacent. I want him to be emotionally intelligent, knowing how to understand and channel his feelings properly, and choose honesty before anything. Lastly, to have the motivation and drive to pick himself back up when he gets knocked down. To know who he is and never let anyone make him believe different.

Claudia (38), daughter Juliana (21)

Your occupation? Assistant Event Planner and my daughter Juli is in Film/TV Production Management in Los Angeles


How did becoming a mother impact the direction of your life? What have been the biggest obstacles to overcome?

I was only 17 years old when I became a mom back in Colombia. For my family, it was the worst thing I could have done at that point in my life. And honestly, I agreed with them. But abortion or adoption never felt like viable options for me. Something in my mind told me I was going to bring someone really special into the world. It began to feel like this baby would be my salvation; my motivation and drive to leave my difficult past behind. And that’s exactly what I did. I grew up in a world where I felt like I didn’t belong. The people around me didn’t have the same values as me, and once my child came into the picture I knew there was no more time to waste in that place.

How do you balance being a mom while pursuing your own personal dreams/goals?

My journey as a mom has not been the easiest. I was a kid myself when I had my daughter. I came to the US with her with the intention of starting fresh; and that meant that a lot of my time would be spent working long hours to make sure she never felt like she was lacking or missing out on anything. Luckily, my passion for cooking and planning has led me into a profession through which I can provide for us, while also genuinely enjoying my job. And even though her father wasn’t much support throughout her life, we have been fortunate enough to have his family offer their help at times on his behalf. It has always been me and her though, at the end of the day.

What are some of your fears and hopes for your daughter?

My fears for her are very little. I feel like she is growing into a leader. She has vision, which I like to think is a quality she got from me. I feel like I made it through the toughest obstacles for us so that she won’t have to face the same things I did. My hope is that she continues to build off of our history and paves her own path. She is in Cali right now, working hard at her internship and already has a job lined up for when she graduates. My biggest hope for her is that she always turns her fears into opportunities, like I did.

Aretha (46), sons Idris (6) & Austin (17)

Occupation?Manager in the Financial Services Industry


How did becoming a mother impact the direction of your life? What have been the biggest obstacles to overcome?

Having Austin was the ultimate miracle in my life- I became a mother! I felt like having Austin finally gave my life purpose and allowed me to truly experience what is meant to love another person. Fast forward a few years later and here comes Idris- the undeniable absolute blessing in my life! This particular journey has been both challenging, scary and rewarding at the same time.  Idris was born a micro preemie at 28 weeks gestation and developed a long list of medical issues. Unfortunately, one of those issues was open heart surgery when he was only a month old and he went into cardiac arrest post-surgery, causing loss of blood and oxygen to his brain. At 6 now, he is still non-verbal  and feeds through the use of feeding tubes. He also lives on oxygen and with the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension and extreme GI issues including dysphagia, his immune system is severely compromised therefore he can only be home schooled in order to minimize interaction with other people because of the risk of him getting sick. His medical issues further make it impossible to use baby sitters so outside of my husband and I, we can only use NURSES for his care when we have to tend to other responsibilities such as “work”. Idris is truly a joy to be around and I can honestly say that there are times when I have trouble remembering what my life was like before him.  

How do you balance being a mom while pursuing your own personal dreams/goals?

My life is very full so I schedule everything that I need to accomplish and plan ahead; otherwise I can never get anything done. My nurses are also my heroes because they make it all possible.

What are some of your fears and hopes for your sons?

My hope is for Idris is to get to a point where he can do things for himself when my husband and I are no longer living and clearly, the reverse is my fear. I do my best to make sure that Austin feels just as important and has the time that he needs with me. I support him in all he does and my hope is that he grows up to be a successful young man in all that he decides to take on. My fear is rather obvious; knowing that in the case of an eventuality Austin will be responsible for his brother’s care, I worry about who he chooses as a life partner/spouse and how accepting she will be of Idris.

Jatinder (64), her mother Nachhater (89)

Your occupation? VP of Credit/Finance

Note: Jatinder agreed to participate in this interview on behalf of her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.


How has your mom impacted your life?

She had a really rough upbringing in India, we all did. Me being the oldest (and her only daughter) she was really tough on me because she knew she needed to prepare me for a hard life ahead. After my father died suddenly, she married me into a wealthy family in Tanzania when I was 16 years old. She was thinking this was my chance at a better life and an actual future. I dealt with a lot of pain and hardship during that next phase of my life. Things only got better once I left to the US, left my past behind, started my career, and was able to bring my mom over from India. She impacted my life by wanting the best for me and trying to put me in a position to obtain that, the only way she knew how.

Can you speak a little about your mother’s condition and how it has impacted her life?

She has Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It started in 2011 and came on so suddenly – it was such a lifestyle adjustment for her and for the whole family. She can’t physically care for herself anymore and doesn’t remember anything, really. Because the meds have weakened her so much, she just sits in silence in her room all day long unless I’m helping her to bathe or to eat. Sometimes it feels like we’ve lost so much of her already, even though she’s still here physically.

What would you say to her today, if you knew she’d understand?

I never had the heart to share my story with her – about the things I endured during those years away from her. I don’t talk to anyone about that, but I wish I could have shared it with her while she could understand. If I could speak to her today, I’d tell her that although I didn’t understand the choices she made for me while I was growing up, I understand them now--and that I’m thankful those choices led me to where I am today.

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Preet Mangat

is Photographer & TGM member! Find her here