Every woman wears motherhood a little differently. When it comes to being a mother, there is no one-size-fits-all. Just like the women who embody the role, motherhood defies definition.
For Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the expansiveness of the role, capturing motherhood through the eyes of three women in different stages of their lives. Alongside intimate portraits lensed by Mary Manning, these women speak about their diverse experiences with motherhood – how they’ve embodied the role and how it’s shaped them – in their own words.
Andrea Laušević, NYC
All photographs by Mary Manning.
Andrea is mother to Julien, 5. She’s also a visual designer, artist, and researcher.
On her work:
“I always try to be useful to others. Without a sense of camaraderie, life would be devastating. As a designer working mainly in the domains of education, art, and nonprofits, I use problem-solving and creative skills as a way to give back to society. In my personal art projects, I’m concerned with themes of self-exploration and self-reflection. I hope that my work inspires others to venture inward.”
On being a young mother:
“My experience with motherhood has been very colorful, a spectrum of emotions. I became a mother at 25, which is relatively young for NYC standards. It triggered a deep identity crisis within me, at an age when I was still figuring out who I was and making sense of the world.”
On her relationship with her son:
“I try to integrate Julien into my world as much as I can. We do everything together, from making art to travelling for my research work. I hope this will help him gain a wider perspective of the world and people’s diverse experiences.”
On what she wants to teach her son:
“Curiosity, critical thinking, disobedience. How to be compassionate and act against injustice.”
On what motherhood has taught her:
“How to embrace chaos and spontaneity. Before, I was much more rigid, but motherhood has taught me there are many different ways of doing things.”
On her family heirlooms:
“I’m not big on material possessions, but I hope Julien will cherish my book collection and the art we create together.”
Collier Meyerson, NYC
Collier is mother to Ozzy, 2½, and is currently pregnant with her second child. She’s also a writer and journalist.
On who she is:
“I try to be as fully present with people—to listen and share when it’s necessary. I think it’s my biggest strength as a friend, mother, and writer.”
On being a mother:
“I haven’t mastered this by any means, but my idea of mothering is to provide support and space for Ozzy and whoever is in my belly to self-actualize without projecting onto them my vision of who I wish they’ll be. With baby number two on the way, I’m excited to keep working on this extremely arduous practice of relinquishing control. It makes the process a lot more fun!”
On dressing for pregnancy:
“Both pregnancies, I’ve found it really hard to find clothes I feel beautiful in. My body’s changing so quickly, something that fit last week doesn’t fit this week. It’s really overwhelming! But I’ve found two Issey Miyake pleated pieces that make me feel classy, comfortable, and happy.”
On what she learned from her mother:
“I grew up in a home where generosity was paramount. And I don’t just mean materially: my mother’s generosity comes in the form of giving her time to us, like preparing Ozzy’s lunch and dinner for the week. And the most important element of her generosity is that it’s sincere, there are absolutely no strings attached. I’d love to impart on my children how good it feels to give.”
On what she wants to teach her child:
“Since kindness and openness are so much a part of the fabric of our house, I think I’d have to say a sense of humor. It’s a drag not to laugh.”
Stacey Gladstone, Brooklyn
Stacey is mother to Liam, 30, and step-mom to John, 29, and Hillary, 27. She’s also an AIDS-certified registered nurse and a writer.
On who she is:
“I started out as an actor and singer, and then I became an HIV nurse. I’ve been in the HIV care world for the last 22 years and this work defines me in a big way. I guess I see myself as an advocate and a dreamer. Someone with a strong ability to empathize, a desire to help, and a desire to meld the analytical with the creative.”
On being a mother:
“When my son came along, I realized that there was nothing I could ever be or do that wouldn’t have him metaphorically sitting on my shoulder. He still does. He always will. And I mean that in the best possible way.”
On her relationship with her children:
“Now that my son is a grown man, I continue to act as a sounding board, someone who loves him unconditionally, and the provider of a landing pad, whenever it’s needed. I’m also now an incredibly lucky stepmom. My stepdaughter and stepson are both young adults who allowed me to seamlessly slip into their lives, expanding my role. I’m in love with my enlarged family.”
On what she’s learned from her children:
“I’ve learned so many things – everything. But the first thing that comes to mind is authenticity. The courage to be one’s authentic self and to trust that the risk is worth it.”
On the most meaningful Mother’s Day gift she’s ever received:
“Mix-tapes. By thinking of what I like, Liam gave me an idea of how he saw me, and of how he wanted to be seen by me.”
*These interviews were edited and condensed for clarity.