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Lisa and Carlene - Candid on motherhood
published: Monday | May 5, 2003

By Claude Mills, Staff Reporter

Lisa with son Alexander. - Contributed

LISA HANNA-Panton is a dark-skinned, svelte and drop-dead gorgeous professional while Carlene Smith is a light-skinned, voluptuous, buxom beauty who represents the outré fashions and hard-core sensibilities of the dancehall world.

Lisa is married to a member of the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) G2K organisation, Dr. David Panton, while Carlene is still single, but engaged to a well-known People's National Party (PNP) activist and businessman, Danhai Williams. Lisa has a two year-old son while Carlene is the mother of a four-year-old daughter.

Still, despite the differences, they remain steadfast friends who share a common ambition -- to be good mothers.

As friends for more than a decade and recently-turned business partners on their new CVM programme, 'Our Voices', Lisa and Carlene often lean heavily on each other for support and advice in maternal matters.

Lisa's son, Alexander Michael David Panton was born March 17, 2001, and tipped the scales at 6 pounds and 14 ounces. However, Lisa's motherhood experience has been anything but average.

"Motherhood has been a very dynamic experience for me. I think that nature is awesome to have made a child that can understand a parent so well," she says.

The biggest challenge that she has faced so far is 'potty-training', and now, she faces the onset of what psychologists refer to as the 'terrible twos'.

"He's not at all 'terrible. He is very busy and energetic, and he keeps things interesting," she adds, laughing.


Lisa says she also enjoys a great relationship with her mother, Dorothy Cynthia Hosang Hanna or Shirley, as her friends call her.

"Growing up, my mother was always a staunch disciplinarian. She's always been kind and positive, and used a lot of philosophical references to teach me things. She liked to read a lot of metaphysics and she did a number of motivational courses when I was growing up."

She hints, however, that her mother was "extremely conservative", which leads to conflicting ideologies and style of parenting.

"I am much more liberal than my mom, and I will raise my child in a more liberal frame of mind," Lisa asserted. Alex is her mother's second grandson.

While the liberal in her challenges conventional wisdom of how to rear a child in Jamaica, Lisa notes that she sometimes resorts to more time-honoured methods of instruction.

"Both my mother and I have good communication skills, so we agree to disagree

on issues. She laughs at me some of the times, and says stuff like, 'you new-age parents'. But still, Alex picks up some big licks from me, after all, you can't allow him to get away with everything. I hide nothing from Alex, and he understands choices and the consequences of those choices."

Carlene with little Crystal. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer


Dancehall Queen Carlene never got the opportunity to grow up with her mother, Ivy Smith, because she lived overseas in New York for much of Carlene's early developmental years.

"I didn't grow up with my mom, but I saw her on a regular enough basis whenever she would come to Jamaica. I never felt I missed out on any love though because I had my big sister and my stepfather who played the role of the both mother and father," she says.

"I got the chance to live with her in New York which was an important time for me as a teenager between the ages of 12 and 14. Those are the most important years in a woman's life when she is no longer a girl, but not yet a woman, and she helped me to make that transition."

Carlene showers lavish love and affection on the four-year-old daughter she has with popular DJ Beenie Man.

"I shower endless love on Crystal and she gives that love back. If you meet her for the first time, she is not afraid to give you a hug, and she will tell you that she loves you once she becomes close to you."

The proud mama adds that Crystal "... is more like Beenie Man. She likes attention and she wants her presence to not only be heard but her presence to be acknowledged. Plus, she is full of humour and gives a lot of jokes like Beenie Man. She is like me in that, at age four, she loves clothes, likes to dress up and she is already saying that she is sexy," Carlene says, laughing.


Asked if she thought she was a great mother, she answers: "I don't think any mother is a great mother, the proof of the pudding is when the child looks back on those parenting years and says 'Thank You mom'.

"There are no degrees in motherhood, you just have to learn as you go along. It's basically trial-and-error, some things might not work, others have a tremendous impact. I am by no means an over protective mother so I allow my child some freedom."

Carlene adds, however, that Crystal was asthmatic. "At times I worry a lot about her, but I try not to show my own fears for her health. I used to fret, and I am now past the stage where I drop in without warning at school to check up on her. The teachers used to have to say to me, "Mommy, go home". But I am glad she seems to be growing out the asthma now."

Lisa notes that her son is "his father's child. He has a lot of David's personality, he is an independent and assertive child and very loving. He is a late sleeper and an early riser like his father. He is David's child, I just carried him. He is very gregarious, and he does well in front of the camera, very flamboyant, I think he gets that from me more so. He's a good mix down the middle in terms of personality."

Although motherhood has been a trouble-free experience so far Lisa does not seem overly enthusiastic about conceiving a daughter the next time around the motherhood carousel.

"The short labour seemed as though it were a precursor for things to come, it's been great so far, but I'm not sure I want a daughter, I prefer sons, but if one comes, that's OK."

In the meantime, Carlene has exchanged her fast-paced dancehall lifestyle for the pleasures of motherhood without much of a glitch.

"I really enjoy motherhood, I don't feel like I am missing out on anything not being out in the limelight and the dancehall. I like hanging out with Crystal. She acts like a big woman when we're alone together. She is very precocious, very adult at times, and she enjoys our times together. Beenie Man is a very good father to her. She got the dancing genes from both of us, she knows all of Beenie's songs, and she likes to look at photos of me, and she always knows who I am no matter what sort of wig I have on."

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