Candy is delighted to be collaborating with Coleen Mensa, Lawyer, mum-to-be and founder of online platform Dear Black Mum. In a two part guest series Coleen will be sharing her motherhood journey and why she’ll be speaking out for equality louder than ever over Black History Month and beyond…
We’ve all heard the saying that being a mum is a full-time job – well I would argue that being a mum-to-be is also a full-time job!
By day, I am a corporate lawyer at one of the largest multinational professional services firms in the world. Aside from being a lawyer, I am also a freelance journalist, an artist, manager and the founder of a community called Dear Black Mum.
I set up Dear Black Mum because I was looking for an online space that catered for people who, not only looked like me, but had the same style and sensibility as me; maybe had similar experiences in the world as me too.
Growing up in inner London, in a half Nigerian/half Ghanaian household meant that I had a unique upbringing – one rich in culture and tradition. I was looking for an online space which recognised this and was tailored to someone like myself. I simply couldn’t find this and as a response, I created the space I wanted to see. Dear Black Mum is a community of mums, mums to be and womxn thinking about planning a family; a place where I can share my journey as a mum (to be) whilst learning from others. It’s a platform where we can all navigate motherhood together and a reference point for future mothers to be.
As you can probably imagine, I am no stranger to the working world and I thrive on the execution of tasks. I now have the proud new title of first-time mum to be and I am juggling this role with other working commitments.
As a mum to be, I am learning the ropes as I go, and trying to prepare as best as I can for my precious new arrival. Due to pregnancy, a lot has changed (in particular body wise) yet there is one thing that has stayed the same – my working life.
October signifies Black History Month in the UK. During this month, the achievements and contributions of Black people in England and around the world are recognised and celebrated. This month is always a busy time for me. I am often asked to deliver talks, attend events and write articles relating to Black History. This is something that I think is incredibly important for me to participate in due to the need to amplify the Black voices of today.
As a mother to be, it has become even more important for me to do all that I can to ensure that my child’s generation is not faced with the same challenges that I faced. For example, growing up with limited optical representation in various industries meant that I frequently doubted my own abilities. The more myself and others speak out for equality, the less our children will have to.
The Black voices of today will undoubtedly shape and reframe the experiences of black people in the future. I will play a huge role in that. Simple changes such as diversity and recognition in mainstream media can really change the development of a child.
Admittedly, past experience has taught me that October requires a lot of stamina to make it through the month. I am now in my third trimester, and the incredible energy burst that I had in my second trimester has slowly been replaced with silent rounds of unpredictable exhaustion. It is something I struggled with at the beginning – questions such as “when will the exhaustion end?”, “will I be able to meet deadlines?” and “will I still be bed bound tomorrow” frequently whizzed through my mind.
Ultimately my main focus is growing a healthy baby. As such, I am at the mercy of my body and so when it tells me to slow down, I have to honour this. Consequently, I have really had to think about how I approach this month.
I decided to begin my maternity leave at the end of September. As rewarding as it is being a lawyer, it is also very time consuming. Having this extra time now means I can devote time to self-care and rest (something I hear I may not get too much of once baby arrives!). It has also given me a lot more time to prepare for birth and the other commitments I have during Black History month. Some of these commitments include panel discussions, opinion pieces in newspapers, key note talks and collaborations with exciting brands.
Like most first-time mums, I want to ensure I am in the best position mentally, physically, spiritually and financially before my baby arrives. Balancing this with work requirements I have has, at times, left me feeling overwhelmed. But the joy I have about my new role as a soon to be mother outweighs any of these feelings, what a blessing motherhood is.
There’s no doubt that this month will be somewhat challenging and so I’ll be keeping you updated. Don’t be surprised if I am not still rocking my boot heels though!