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Saint Mary’s panel discusses roles for mothers

| Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Saint Mary’s Office for Civic Engagement (OSCE) hosted the first of a three-part discussion series about women, mothers and their roles in society Tuesday evening. Tuesday’s event focused on the idea of being a woman, mother and image bearer, with guest panelists Ramal Winfield, Noelle Gunn Elliott and Christan Sheltan, as well as a question and answer section led by Rebekah DeLine, the director of the OCSE.

DeLine started the event by asking the panelists how they serve in the South Bend community as individuals and as families.

“It’s really important to us because my oldest is seven and we’re trying to find ways to include him in understanding how important service is to us. There are times in our life that with wrestling, soccer, piano that we are not able to do that,” Sheltan said. “Right now his little heart is pulled towards helping homeless people, so we’ve been making blessing bags and keep those with us. That’s a way for us to serve when we don’t really have the time to serve.”

Elliott said her family tries to do outreach in the community during holidays.

“As a family, for Thanksgiving we try and go to the homeless shelter and we try to focus more on the giving and the giving thanks,” Elliott said.

Winfield said she likes to go to events in the community that actively supports the younger generation.

“I go to just a lot of different events around town that I feel are important, especially ones that are advocating for children,” Winfield said.

The panel then discussed how each manages to create a positive work-life balance.

“I try not to beat myself up or have the wrong expectations about what I’m capable of doing,” Winfield said. “I know that some people in my family say that I work too much, but you just have to do what you have to do.”

Sheltan said she felt similar to Winfield’s thoughts on balance. 

“Balance is impossible to achieve perfectly. I personally know that I don’t feel like it is my shape to stay at home so then it was kind of like just trying to find balance,” she said. “I think what I work right now is a job more than a career, but it gives me the balance to be with my children a little bit more.”

There’s an insecurity, Elliott asserted, that exists among women juggling such roles.

“So many women always think ‘Oh she’s judging me because I’m not going to work,’ but they really do want to be working,” Elliott said. “There’s always this insecurity. And we’re not judging each other; hopefully we’re just trying to be the best moms we can be.”

Elliott shared how she started her program, the Mommalogues, which gives women the platform to share their personal stories about being mothers.

“If I have a force, it’s not so much being a mother,” Elliott said. “It’s about being in solidarity with other women whether they’re a mother or not, and being a positive force in the world.”

The panelists discussed their hopes for women to become more united through these types of discussions. Subsequent discussions in the series will take place April 2 and April 16, and will cover women and mothers as change-makers and activists.

“Eventually I want to [make] this so it’s not just for students, but also for women in the community,” DeLine said.

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