Wed | Aug 23, 2017

The sisterhood of motherhood

Published:Sunday | May 14, 2017 | 5:00 AMNatalia Oh!
Walton
Panton
Aiesha Panton (left) and best freind Shakira Walton.
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Aiesha Panton and Shakira Walton met in third form at Immaculate Conception High School. Twenty-eight years later, the two are still inseparable and have been there for each other throughout everything including motherhood. Today they have formed a sisterhood and as we celebrate Mother's Day, we celebrate their friendship and the village that makes it all possible.

 

AEISHA PANTON

 

Born in St Andrew, Aiesha Panton is the daughter of Jennifer Goodison and Phillip Hall, with three brothers and one sister.

She notes that over the years, her friendship with Shakira has become closer. "She is no longer just a friend, she holds a sacred space as one of my soul sisters. She is also the mother of my nephew, so no matter how I spin it, we are family."

How has motherhood impacted your friendship?

Being on this journey of motherhood together has brought us closer. We now share our children's lives, joys, victories and the struggles of trying to get it right - over a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine.

How has your spirituality impacted your friendship and being a mother?

A shared desire for a more God-centred life is probably the sweetest spot in our friendship. Shakira and I see life the same way - that God is our source and Jesus is Lord. So we can pray together, laugh together, cry together and encourage each other in a way that truly speaks to our heart. And to have friends like that is priceless.

How do you maintain your sense of self (identity) outside of being a mom?

That's a daily practise. Some days I win and others I lose. I would say, in the earlier years, I was too busy trying to keep afloat in all my roles to be bothered about who I was outside of my girls. But God, in His wisdom, was using them to teach me and heal me, and I am more my self now than I have ever been. I've also released some preconceived ideas that had become unmerited guiding principles.

Has your style changed since becoming a mother? if so, how?

I sort of just moved to wearing black, and more black. Partly because black is friendly to the unfit (smile), but also, I think it was a part of a subconscious move to tune out the noise in my life. My room is all white with wood and greenery.

What is your go-to look for running around while still staying stylish?

All black or a white top and jeans with cool sneakers. I always choose simple styles that have an interesting detail, like studs or a cut-out, or a fringe to add an extra touch of style.

What is the one thing you do daily for yourself?

My morning ritual - I put the house back in order, fix the flowers, straighten the cushions, make my coffee and drink it from one of my Baughaus mugs (they are my favourite) and share the moment with my husband, Sandor. Sometimes there is my music in the background and a candle, but always during this time I am prayerful. I feel light and grateful, and then I feel better equipped to go through the crazy of the day.

How do you think your mother (or father) influenced your own mothering skills?

I have been blessed with amazing parents who continue to parent me while having become my friends. It's not that they are perfect people, but they were perfect in their commitment to us, in spite of a divorce. I always, always, felt their love. I really salute my mother for allowing my father to actively participate in our lives in every way, every day. And I salute my father, who never allowed a separate home to separate him from us. He missed nothing. With the two of them, there was a sense of balance of rock and cushion and stillness and music in my heart.

I always say that I made a good pick with Sandor because my father and my brother were exemplary in the way they loved me, and that he has to do the same for our girls, which he is. And then there are my grandparents and my aunt and my cousin, who I grew up with. I watched my grandparents remain in-love till the last days of my grandfather's life. I asked my grandmother, 'How did you do it?' and she said, 'I love your grandfather'. With age and experience I know what that means - they loved because, anyway and in spite of. And my aunt, Dawn, who is my other mother, and my cousin, Shelleyanne, my other sister. Their love is boundless till this day. And then there is the village of family and friends, who surrounded us with love. It all came together to make us feel safe, certain and loved, and taught us to love and be loving.

My husband comes from the same examples of love and commitment. I think that's the framework for bringing up good citizens who make a positive contribution to the world and leave it a little better than they found it. I strive to create that kind of environment for our girls.

What have your children taught you about yourself?

I have two girls, Solae and Sahai, and there is something special about them. I maintain that they are among my greatest teachers, even at their young age. I tell them every day, they are light and joy, fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and they can do anything. And maybe it's the challenge of raising them in a way that will honour that truth, and maybe it's in part because saying the mantra to them has seeped in my soul, but being their mother has ushered me into that same knowledge about my self - to access my own light, to become a little bolder in sharing it, to spread love, and to create beauty, with the intention to shift people's life experience a little higher, with a little more magic, if even for a fleeting moment.

You work in the creative world, how do you stay ahead of the masses and stay inspired? Any advice for other working moms?

I remember when I just started my website, pussbackfoot. I was generally very unsure and fearful of someone taking my ideas, being copied, of not standing out, etc. I learnt three powerful things that shifted my approach and shaped the way I view my creative work. A friend reminded me that the greatest asset I have lies between my two ears; the magic I bring is first in my head and then my hands, and no one can replicate that. The other lesson came from watching an interview with Oprah, where she was recounting her path to success and said she never looked left, nor right - just like in a race - she only looked straight ahead at the goal. And the other thing is to just be excellent. This approach has propelled me in the right direction.

I challenge myself to outdo what I've done before. I'm not too concerned with what other designers are doing. Creative work is a personal expression and I view my work as an art form the interpretation of my clients' wishes through the lens of my creativity.

My advice is very clichÈ, but it's the truth. Do what you love! If you don't love it, it's not what you're really supposed to be doing. When love, passion, and hard work combine, it becomes a force of its own.

 

SHAKIRA WALTON

 

Born in Kingston with five siblings, Shakira Walton is the only child for her biological parents Ann Marie Burke and Andrew Chin. "I was raised, in Dr Thea Davis' words, in 'a beautifully broken and perfectly imperfect village' of my totally devoted grandparents Vilma and William Isaacs, a wonderful stepdad, Douglas Burke, and a host of aunts and uncles."

How has motherhood affected or impacted your friendship?

I had my first son when I was 21. Among my friends, I was the first to be a mother and I was afraid it would change my friendships, but it made them stronger. They all became 'mothers', too, and we carried Jared everywhere we went. He was on the dance floor on New Year's Eve, with us on the beach, he came on girlfriend weekends to Florida. You name it, he was there.

Aiesha has been a constant in my life. I can safely say there is nothing major that I have gone through that she has not been right by my side - laughing, crying or sitting and being completely still because we cannot even find the words to speak. When she became a mother, I did the same. We rallied around each other. Going through the challenges and joys of motherhood together has solidified our friendship even more.

My friends are the mirrors into my soul. I cannot pretend or be fake with them. Our kids call each other cousins, because even in their eyes we are all family.

How has your spirituality impacted your friendship and being a mother?

I can safely say - only God! Nothing happens to a child of God by accident. Whether it be good or bad. There is always a lesson He wants you to learn. I know Aiesha was a special gift given to me from God. From the outside, we are completely different, but we couldn't be more similar and perfectly paired. We give each other balance.

We both started our spiritual journey together when we joined our first Bible study with my business partner, Cynthia, six years ago. We laugh all the time and wonder how people get through each day without God.

I pray over my children all day, every day. It has reached a point where even my three-year-old and seven-year-old call out to God when they need help to do a puzzle or ride their bicycle up a hill. Lukah (my seven-year-old son) burst into praise and worship songs all the time. I place them in the Lord's hands every day and ask for His covering over their lives and, most importantly, His will to be done in their lives.

My children and my husband are my blessings from God. I am so grateful to have my own beautifully broken and perfectly imperfect family.

How do you maintain your sense of self (identity) outside of being a mom?

The older I get, the more I can maintain the balance. I was a strong-willed, do-it-yourself, don't ask-for-help woman. That officially came to an end when I had my last child - my daughter, Skyla. I had to learn to stop and walk away and have some 'me time' without feeling guilty. Go on a lunch date with my husband, Zulo, without the kids. Treat myself to a massage in the middle of the week just because I want one.

I think it is important for mothers to treat themselves and have 'alone time', if only just to keep our sanity.

Has your style changed since becoming a mother? if so, how?

My fashion style has improved. I look back at some of my choices a few years ago and I thank God social media was not around then! I have always been a girlie girl. I love clothes, shoes, accessories. Things! Any excuse to buy a new outfit and dress up. When we were teenagers, my friends called my closet Burdines (an old-time department store).

What is your go-to look for running around but still staying stylish?

I love rompers! But I am a jeans and tank top kind of girl, too.

What is the one thing you do daily for yourself?

Stop and pray. I found when I didn't, my day was very unsettled!

How do you think your mother (or father) influenced your own mothering skills?

My mother and I went through the typical mother-daughter arguments when I was younger. But now I can safely say she is one of my closest friends. She has influenced so much of who I am and how I raise my kids. She is good friends with my biological father (and all his exes) who created all the 'half siblings' I have. She has also never made me think of any of my siblings as 'half', but rather as my brothers and sister. She embraced all of them and, they in turn, see her as their second mother. She was able to turn what most people would have made a negative into a positive. And now my siblings and I are so close as a result.

I have adopted her approach and as a result, I have done the same with my family. The father of my first son Jared and I are the best of friends. He is a constant in my life and now we raise our families together as we are both married to other people and have other children. He is also Aiesha's brother and I am the godmother to his beautiful twin girls. We are the definition of a 'modern family'!

What have your children taught you about yourself?

They have taught me that I take things too seriously and I was always in a hurry to complete whatever I was doing. They have taught me that the journey is so much more important than the destination. I started to take the time to enjoy the experience rather than only the outcome.

You work in early-childhood education. What inspired you to enter this field and how has this changed your life? Any advice for other working moms?

I became a teacher by accident. I love children. I knew whatever career I chose would involve children, but at age 15, when I graduated, I was clueless. So, my dear grandaunt Cynthia, who was a teacher for many years, told me to go to teacher's college. She said it would always be something I could fall back on. Well, I went on my first teaching observation at Stella Maris Prep and the teacher was running late and they asked me to read a story to the class, and after that I was hooked and never looked back. I can safely say I have never 'worked' a day in my life. The children teach me every day.

My advice for working moms is to not feel guilty to pull away for a little and have 'alone time'. Ironically, it makes you a better mother. Also, coffee and wine make everything better!

 

Shoot Credits

 

Location: The Inn at 6. Space available for special occasions. Owner-operator Carol Pryce.

Tel: 381-5124.

Photography: Ricardo Makyn

Clothing and accessories:

Kerry Man, Woman, Home

18 South Avenue

Kingston 10

Tel: 929-2096

Make-up: Tiffany Lawson

Tel: 506-6296.

Creative director: Natalia Oh

www.nataliaoh.com