“How I Do It” introduces you to a local mom and how she juggles life. This week: Gabrielle Gaines-Liwaru, an artist and substitute teacher, is next in our series. The 39-year-old is married to Sharif and has three children who are now young adults; two in high school. The couple lives in a friendly neighborhood in North Omaha.
* * * *
The best part of being a mom is guiding children to develop strong character and individual strengths and experiencing tender moments with them, when they make cool discoveries or say something profound. In addition — being open and comfortable with my kids, so that heartfelt talks, goal sharing, cuddling, lounging, silly moments and lots of laughter always seem to overcome obstacles.
We help each other with community education and activism work from home, quite a bit. My passion for learning, collaborating with positive people and agencies, and cultural arts education encourages me to find community events and activities that my children and husband have frequently been able to participate in. I have had more time in the last year, to “build” with and be more supportive of my husband, a very dedicated Malcolm X Memorial Foundation president whom I also serve with on the African Culture Connection board. Being involved in the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) and substitute teaching at Omaha North High School has provided opportunities to be near my kids and their peers, giving me a greater connection to their world.
BEING A BETTER MOM
Balancing time for work, email correspondence, and program creation on the computer with timeliness for listening intently to the kids’ stories, jokes and requests is an area I could improve. I also wish I could discover highly effective age-level appropriate ways to get all of the family “away from the screen” more, so we could do more hands on activities together.
I feared math class, especially Trigonometry in high school, but LOVE the idea of numerology and symbolic numbers.
My husband and I were married and started our family, before being well established or had our undergraduate degrees, so we planned for him to graduate first. I sacrificed going to school to stay home, on a tight budget, with our little ones. Domestic engineering is hard work, and I was glad to go back for my teaching degree when our youngest went into kindergarten. I would never have traded the time that I spent teaching my kids at home and learning from their development, as parenting full-time helped me become a better teacher along that journey. Loving and respecting kids as incredibly capable human beings has been my mode of operation at home and in the classroom.
GETTING THINGS DONE
Sharif and the kids respect what I do and know I get compassion fatigue; that is, sometimes I care so much and give ‘til it hurts. It’s important for me to get several things during the week: prayer time, yoga, journaling/creative expression, good meals, time to laugh, time to dance and sleep. My family and my husband, especially, helps those things happen. My extended family support system and girlfriends are very good energy in my life, too.
Sharif wanted to move somewhere warmer, but we agreed it was practical to stay near our parents and family in Omaha. Sharif would say we have planted roots here in Omaha, because Malcolm X was born here and there is a remarkable humanitarian Malcolm X legacy we can work towards.
BITS OF ADVICE
Make sure that whatever load you carry for work, going to school or staying home with kids makes you feel like you’re living purposefully with your talents. If you’re not completely happy as a domestic engineer, find what you can add that won’t take away from you being a good listener and guide for your kids.
MORE ABOUT THE FAMILY
Sharif, 37, is so serious about positive social change, but he represents a good revolutionary who knows that positive change has to start at home. What makes me giggle is when I can break his concentration on something and make HIM giggle.
Parris, 20, still as vocally talented at when he was 7-months-old, and a “sneakerhead” or athletic shoe connoisseur. He moved out this summer, works more than one job and has big plans that may still include culinary arts.
Zaiid, 17, was give the toddler nickname “Mr. President” because of his demeanor and later it made sense in his style. On his own, he has frequently worn a tie during regular school days, since about age 9. Still wearing his ties and now tying his own bow ties, he is Mr. President of Omaha North High School’s student council and involved in many scholarly programs, including National Society of Black Engineers.
Chéamera, 14, is a writer, an avid reader, and leans toward creative, cultural courses that may lead her on a path to an arts or education related field. It amuses me a little that she is a lot like me, not really having interest in playing sports.
All of us share a down-to-earth quality, to enjoy real fun, real conversation, and just being real with each other.
* * *
* * *