“Santigold on the Meaning of Motherhood” provides a fresh perspective. As a songwriter, producer, and mother of three, she compellingly asserts that motherhood itself is a form of creativity.
Santi White believes that creativity and parenting go hand in hand. “Being a mother requires creative energy,” says White, who had to learn how to balance the energy necessary by her job as a mother with the creative energy required by her career.
White is a musician, songwriter, producer, and mother who records under the moniker Santigold. In September of last year, she released Spirituals, her fourth studio album. In October, she created the Noble Champions podcast on the Talkhouse platform. In a year, Billboard praised White’s contribution to popular music over the past two decades: “Santigold’s singular pen and voice have helped shape popular music over the last two decades.” And while this is true, White told Kindred by Parents that motherhood was reshaping her as she created new music.
Prior to having her first child at age 38, White claims she had not spent much time with youngsters. She did not understand what it would be like to care for an infant at the time. “It was a surprise to me what it actually demanded of me as a human being, as a mother, and as an artist,” she adds of the unanticipated sacrifices.
As a Black mother, she is endeavoring to unlearn excessive self-sacrifice. White states, “Black women have traditionally been encouraged to carry more than their fair share.” She says that it appears African women have been conditioned to be selfless and “give everything we have to our children or families while leaving nothing for ourselves.”
She believes that parents, particularly Black moms, can reinvent their motherhood expectations by relinquishing shame. White says that mothers must let go of the expectations of others. “It is very difficult to be a mother, a Black mother, and a working mother. There is no assistance. It is literally one of the most difficult jobs available.” In addition to removing the guilt and shame of wanting something for themselves and establishing space for self-care, she advises mothers to “rewrite the book on our expectations of ourselves, our expectations for our own achievement, and our expectations for our own happiness and joy.”
In her journey as a mother, she desired something different. She states, “I believe we must learn not to cross our own bounds.”
Even with strong boundaries for her creative self in mind, White admits that her transition into motherhood was difficult, and even more so when she had three children. When her kid was four years old, she gave birth to fraternal twins. “After I had three children, including infant twins, my entire life was turned upside down. And I simply had to accept that the old self no longer existed.”
Her creative ego was the only aspect of herself that remained. “Mothering is a creative endeavor,” she explains. Individuals may not view themselves as creative, yet they are creative anyway. She wants mothers to realize that simply grabbing anything out of their purse to convince a weeping child that it is a toy is an act of creativity. Mothers figure out how to interact with their children on their level.
White feels that discovering joy is a sort of creativity, and she encourages her children to be creative while also making time for her own creativity. “I find joy in a multitude of things, but especially in the act of creation. I believe that my children have witnessed and are actively learning this.” White’s spouse is also an artist, and she claims that their family bonds are strengthened through artistic endeavors. She allows her children time to sing, creates their own rock band concerts, and draw cartoons.
She considers motherhood as an opportunity for rebirth and, at times, a period of forced rebirth. White adds that she needed to reinterpret and redefine parenthood for herself. “I cannot fit into someone else’s box or conception of what I should be. And this is the case regardless of whether I am an artist, a woman, a Black woman, or a mother. I’m going to have to do it in the manner that works best for me, and I’ll have to consider what that truly implies.”
In the process of rebirthing a new conception of motherhood, she was required to contemplate. White claims that being a mother compelled her to examine her own ancestral pain. “If you haven’t started working on your own trauma or triggers, you’re going to pass it on to your children. And I believe that the role of a mother, and rebirth, in particular, is to change continually.”
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