Chinue Richardson | Another Mother Her Way
I'm not surprised Chinue Richardson met her husband on a plane. She's the particular kind of stranger who is easy to pass by pleasantries with quickly and get caught in hours trading backgrounds and experiences. For us, the conversation was easy given her path and the shared spirit of our respective projects. Chinue was working wild hours at a law firm before realizing she wanted more in her marriage and motherhood. She shifted to consulting during pregnancy and took a full pause after her husband and son, Cole, left London to move to the Bay. The time and step away from the pace of her prior career opened her up to new possibilities and in the year since she's started a podcast company dubbed Loud Ladies sharing seldom heard diverse voices. The pilot series is her and her sister launching the company alongside their toddler boys. Below she talks about the open-mindedness and incredible village of women that she's experienced in her early years raising Cole.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
Motherhood has changed me in countless ways. Most of all, it has made me more empathetic and less judgmental. I remember when I was single and without children, I made so many assumptions about other people and passed more judgment than I care to admit. For example, I distinctly remember being out with friends, and there was a woman whose child was acting up, and we judged her so badly. Not maliciously, but we made so many assumptions about what she was and wasn’t doing right with her child. But really, we had no idea what she was going through, nor did we know how to parent. Now, as a mother, I extend a lot more grace and empathy to people, because I know first-hand what it’s like to not have control over situations and to not have it all together. Motherhood is humbling.
I’ve also learned to operate on a lot less sleep.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I actively decided to slow down and spend purposeful time with my family. When I met my husband, I was an associate at a major law firm. I was working well over 60 hours/week and spent most weekends in the office. After meeting him – and seeing what a beautiful life he had built based on rich friendships and relationships and a career that fulfilled him – I decided that I wanted the same for myself. So, I made a lot of changes, including leaving my law firm and taking time off to figure out things for myself.
We got pregnant about 3 ½ months after getting married. And it was then that I decided that I was going to take time to be with my son for as long as it felt right for our family. I recognize that I’m privileged to be able to do that, and I am extraordinarily grateful for the time.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
I am conscientious, honest, affectionate.
I am conscientious because it is important for me to expose my son to people, things and energy that affirm who he is as a black boy. I am very careful about the things I put in and on his body, the images and ideas I expose him to, and the people I surround him with. I don’t want to shelter him, but I am careful to make sure he grows up with positive self-images and beliefs.
I am honest. I think it’s important to be upfront with your children and to tell them the truth. They deserve it.
I am affectionate! I exchange kisses and hugs with my son as much as possible! His hugs make life so much sweeter.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
My husband and I try our best to have regular date nights. It’s important for our marriage.
I’ve also just started working out again, and honestly, it feels so good. I do it more for mental clarity than anything else. When stress piles up, I get outdoors and breathe fresh air.
I also try to get a regular mani/pedi. It helps to look at my hands and feet and see that they’ve been tended to, especially when everything else feels a mess.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
My village starts with my husband, Danny. He is a partner in every sense of the word.
From there, my village expands out to an awesome group of amazing women. For starters, my mom and sisters are the most spectacular women and support group. When our son Cole was born, my mom stayed with us for 6 weeks to help us adjust. She cooked for us, helped us keep our place clean, went grocery shopping, etc. And, even though we don’t live in the same city now, she has managed to maintain a strong connection with Cole as he grows up. I aspire to be like her.
My sisters (one biological, one chosen) are also a huge support. It just so happened that we were all pregnant at the same time (and we all ended up having boys!). So, we could be there for each other in ways that are possible only when you’re in the same boat at the same time. Our three sons are all about 4 months apart, and we share in all the wonderful (and tiring) blessings of motherhood.
My village also includes sisters-in-law, cousins, aunts, and dear friends that provide tremendous support. It’s really hard to put into words. Truly, I’ve been changed by their love.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
I am working on communicating better and being more present. In the age of social media, it is especially difficult to be present where you are. I am working on that. I don’t want my son to grow up thinking that the only way to experience life is through a small screen that fits in the palm of his hands. That would be a failure on my part.