Address by their Excellencies on the occasion of Mother’s Day 2016

Address by their Excellencies President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC and Mrs. Reema Carmona on the occasion of Mother’s Day 2016

Her Excellency:
My dear citizens, on this Mother’s Day, my husband and I are privileged and humbled that you have let us into the sanctity of your homes and into your celebrations, as we salute our mothers and mother-figures.  Motherhood is a blessing, a joy, an honour and a lifetime responsibility.

Indeed, the face and responsibilities of motherhood have evolved drastically over the years, from the traditional role of homemaker and caregiver, to the mom, who is all of that plus CEO, manager and even boss.  And yes, we must do this all while still being teacher, wife, disciplinarian, chef, comforter, gardener and referee when our children get into playful little squabbles with each other.  And then there are those mothers among us, who are the sole breadwinners of the family.  In these trying economic times, parental oversight can be sidelined in the hustle to meet financial commitments in the home.  Economic pursuits can never be a substitute for a mother’s love and this applies whether you are a labourer, market vendor, doctor, teacher, lawyer, nurse or security officer.  Do not postpone expressions of love and care for your children because you are too busy.  Yes, working women many times, leave home with their children still asleep and return when they are already tucked in.  A mother’s work is never done.

Then there are professional mothers, who have chosen to lay dormant their careers, and become full-time homemakers, recognizing the impact that their presence has on their children.  And then there are those mothers who are not qualified academically, but who toil away and continue to imbue solid values in their children.  You may not have a Bachelor of Science or Masters of Science degree, but you do have a PhD in love- and isn’t that what really matters at the end of the day?  Your natural love has the power to inspire your children to achieve their ambitions and reach seemingly impossible goals. Mothers, with your love, you wield a power which no government or politician can match.

I wish to publicly recognize and commend the single parent, even the father who takes on the role of both mother and father, the aunty, the grandmother, guardians, mentors, and the mother who provides a hot meal, gives a hug to her child at the right time and wipes away the tears.

His Excellency:
Mothers of Trinidad and Tobago, do not give up the good fight to educate your children and keep them on the right path. I do recall, the impact that my mother who never went to Secondary school, had on my siblings and I, reading to us, helping us with our homework through our formative years.  Motherhood is a challenging affair.  We parents must have a heightened awareness of the use, misuse and abuse of cyber space, the internet and social media to ensure that our children do not fall prey to negative influences.  The worrying statistics, coming out of the Children’s Authority, can attest to this concern.  Trinidad and Tobago needs a turnaround, in our human relations with each other, and while it takes a village to raise a child, it takes every Trinidad and Tobago mother to do the right thing by their children, for their children.

Mothers, you play a critical role in determining the men and women your sons and daughters become.  We are becoming a society, short in good manners, courtesies and decent language, and mothers can chart a different course by instilling in your children at home, the need for mutual respect, compassion, kindness and tolerance when engaging others.  As I always say and do- teach your children to treat people like people.A child is first and foremost what he sees, hears and observes in his home. So provide a solid foundation for your children at home so that they will become mansions onto themselves – filled with the best of respect, integrity, character and dignity that neither money nor status nor power can ever buy.

Her Excellency:
On this Mother’s Day, there are special mothers I would like to recognize, for the many battles they are forced to fight for their children daily; mothers who cope with trials and tribulations, triggered sometimes, by society’s insensitivity and its lack of genuine inclusivity.  I refer to those mothers with differently-abled children, the mother of the Autistic child, the mother of the child with Down Syndrome, the mother of the child with Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy. These mothers, with deep love for their children, live with a sense of desperate worry, about what the future holds, in a society that simply does not care as it should, about the differently-abled.  We can all alleviate that fear, by continuing to push for implementable, enabling legislation, and social initiatives and programmes, to advance the cause of our differently-abled children and their mothers, fathers and care-givers.

Mothers of T&T, we need to take charge of our family’s health.  Non-communicable diseases such as lifestyle diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease are prevalent in our society and as mothers, we have the solutions in our kitchens. Yes, the medicine is not in the pharmacy but in our kitchens.  In this age of “instant” and haste, we still need to prepare healthier meals for our family.  We must be selective in what we put in our children’s lunch kits, because at the end of the day, a healthy child is a happy child.  Allow your children to participate in a sporting activity that they love, rather than what you love, to ensure sustainable healthy lifestyles for our loved ones.

I would like to take a moment and speak directly to those mothers in our country, who are either neglecting, or not fulfilling their responsibilities as a mother and passing that burden on to the grandmothers and aunties.  Yes, their support and care are invaluable in the lives of your children. Even as grown men and women, we all still need our mothers- to give us guidance and advice, to be our motivator and to be that listening ear, to be that reservoir of wisdom and affection that we can tap into.  Children need their mothers.  If you have been absent from your child’s life for whatever reason, if this message serves only one purpose, let it be to inspire the absent mother to reach out and mend broken relationships with their children and even their families. Mothers, go make up with your children.  Children, reach out to your mothers. That fallout, a year ago or 10 years ago, is just not worth it.  It is never too late for family reconciliation, in this year of mercy. 

His Excellency:
The role of the mother in our homes and in our communities, must never be underestimated.  Mothers, ensure that your offspring, especially your sons, live lives within the law.  As President, a former Criminal Judge and Prosecutor, I have spoken of the man-child in crisis.  The First Lady and I have engaged from inception, in many initiatives and programmes to help make a real difference in the lives of our young people.  It is our fervent hope that, through our mentorship, school visits, student activities and youth-inclusive functions hosted at the Office of the President, we can make a change.  We can all change the mind of the student, who feels hopeless, to believe in himself, to want to be in school, to become ambitious and to aspire towards success.  Mothers, you can change your offending man-child through the power of your love and guiding influence.  You’ve got the power! Use it.

Mothers, you must emphasize to your children the importance of education.  Many mothers, in all strata of society, are doing an excellent job despite adversities and challenges.  Teach our young men to treat women with respect and our young ladies to demand that respect.  You must continue to encourage and instill in your children, the importance of standing alone, on the side of doing right, and ensure that they culture friends, who do right to all manner of men and women.  Hoping and praying for the best will not suffice.  The best will only be achieved by your transformational efforts and action as a mother, with the weapon of disciplined love.

It is always difficult to find a Mother’s Day gift that truly reflects our love. One Mother’s Day gift that you can well consider, is to assist mom, to realise her inner dreams and ambition, whatever they may be, which may have been put on hold, because she was simply taking care of you and your siblings at home.  Her personal sacrifices are often made in loving silence.

Her Excellency and I are grateful that both of our mothers are with us to celebrate this day.  To those who have lost their mothers, let the legacy of your mother’s love fill your hearts with great warmth.  As children, you should value the times you share with your mother and make a conscious effort to spend more time with your parents.  Value your mother and give her respect, for motherhood is a great vocation, which ensures that your needs are met and your comfort assured.  Let us therefore celebrate today and every day, the role and sterling contribution of mothers in our lives, communities and society.

From our family, including our children, Christian and Anura, we celebrate, honour and salute the mothers of Trinidad and Tobago.  Have a wonderful, happy Mother’s Day.