‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all!Here’s our interview with Amber Golden, 2021 District of Columbia Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you to be selected as the Mother of the Year® in your state?
It was an honor and it was a surprise. It means a lot. In many ways, I feel like almost all mothers deserve this award because we work so hard and invest so much time into our families, into ourselves, and into our children. So it really meant a lot because I’ve worked really hard with my family. I’m a part of that sandwich generation, so I have my children who are ushering into adulthood and my mother is now in her 80s, who I’m supporting, so that she can stay as active and vibrant as she is. So it was really nice to have somebody else see it.
When you start to raise children, you realize how they are going to be their own person.
Amber Golden, 2021 D.C. Mother of the Year
What do you love most about being a mom?
There was a song by Sweet Honey In The Rock that I was introduced to in my early 20s, and it was a poem by Kahlil Gibran. It says,
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you, they belong not to you
You may give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
And that song has always stuck with me. When you start to raise children, you realize how they are going to be their own person. You can be as reflective and look at that process of how we were parented, [think of] the parent that they need, like the parent that we wanted and the parent that we got… That whole process of mirroring, modeling, learning and growing, it really is a soul journey for all of us. And so I think that is the part of it that I appreciated the most because we say there’s so much that we would do for our children that we don’t do for ourselves. And so it’s really nice to witness everybody’s transformation in our growth together.
When your kids get frustrated and they want to throw in the towel, what would you say to them to not give up, that they need to persevere through it?
It depends on the context, of course. I think the first thing that I do is allow them to have their feelings and just find out more about where that’s coming from. And so I think the biggest thing that we’ve had lately is just being so done with Zoom, and Zoom school,
and not wanting to be bothered and or procrastinating, because it’s just a different setup. But it’s really about having them focus on, “now, what was your goal?”
Sometimes we get into the model of fuss—do this, do that—just because you’re supposed to. So I really try to frame it in a way where they understand this isn’t me being the bad guy. This isn’t me fussing just because I want to fuss. It’s because you set goals and I’m here to support you in reaching that and I can see a little beyond what you can see. So I don’t want you to fall in certain holes, I’m trying to help you avoid them and make it to the goals that you set. That’s usually my approach. But first to listen and see where they’re at.
The Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless, caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using that maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you say you exemplify the Golden Rule in your everyday life?
When I made two major moves to support the mental health and health needs for the family, I literally quit my job twice and moved them halfway across the country. Because no matter what I do here, no matter what good I do in this community, if my mother is going to suffer, none of it’s worth it. If she’s going to be aging alone, that’s not worth it for me, at all. I think my effort to demonstrate to my children that it is these little choices that we make every day. My daughter might complain about what’s going on at high school, so this year I volunteered and helped with the PTO. We were talking about it last night, and I said that I’m really glad that I did it because of how much I learned and can share with others. You don’t just have to complain about something. This is how you do something. So she’s able to see me going to lobby before city council; lobbying to the Chancellor to say you’re underfunding our school, this is why and this is what needs to happen; meeting with the faculty and different branches of the school family to help make a change. And so I think all of those pieces, but I’m also trying to make sure that I keep myself on the plate. I think that is the biggest piece. For me to just be like, “Yes, I can do all these things. But we do come first.”
Amber Golden, Ph.D., MFA, MS is a multidisciplinary scholar and dancer. She is passionate about improving mental health and well-being in the African American community. In service to her community, she hosts Emotional Emancipation Circles™, which is designed to assist Black people of African descent in beginning and deepening the healing process from the deleterious, intergenerational effects of systemic racism. Amber is currently serving as a Visiting Professor at Florida A&M University’s Department of Psychology. She lovingly offers day-to-day support to her vivacious octogenarian mother and is nurturing her three children through adolescence and into young adulthood. She also serves as a mentor and PTO president of her middle child’s high school.
Do you have moms in your life you’d like to nominate for the Mother of the Year® honor? Nominate them today!