Last Updated on April 16, 2023 by BVN
Dannette Sanders, 38, and Daryl Sanders, 34, pose for a portrait with their daughter Gabriella, 3, in their home on April 5, 2023. Dannette is a school psychologist and Daryl is a health consultant who works to reduce health care disparities in the community. (Aryana Noroozi for Black Voice News / CatchLight Local)
April 11, 2023 through April 17, 2023 marks Black Maternal Health Week, a week-long campaign founded and organized by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance which is a Black women-led, cross-sectoral organization that centers Black mothers and birthing people.
The purpose of Black Maternal Health Week is to “build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of Black Mamas and birthing people.”
As news reports and data continue to reveal the rising rate of Black maternal mortality and inadequate treatment in hospital settings, this year’s theme for Black Maternal Health Week, “Our Bodies Belong to Us: Restoring Black Autonomy and Joy!”, seeks to shine a light on community-centered and cultural practices for maternal care delivered by Black midwives, full-spectrum doulas and other birth and maternal health workers.
In line with the theme of restoring Black autonomy and Joy and with the support of Inland Empire community-based doulas and midwives, the Black Voice News spoke with Black midwives, doulas and families in the area about the joys of parenting and serving their communities, how they hold on to joy while balancing obligations and what they hope for the future.
Meet the Sanders
“Happiness is what I experience when I am spending time with friends or family or watching a funny movie, but the joy — and I think it applies with both [Gabriella] and in general — it just feels pure. It just feels like I couldn’t stop being happy if I wanted to,” Dannette Sanders, 38, explained. “This is internal, this is just glowing. It feels pure.”
Dannette described how it feels to be a parent to her three-year-old daughter, Gabriella, who popped in and out of the room to check on her parents from time to time during the interview. Dannette is a school psychologist and her husband, Daryl, 34, is a health consultant who works to reduce health care disparities in the community and addresses equity issues in hiring practices.
“I find joy spending time with my family. That’s kind of my happy place and you get lost being in each other’s company. You don’t have to do anything great, but it’s just breaking up the norm,” Daryl said. Whether it’s just watching television or catching up with one another, he enjoys watching Gabriella experience being part of a family. “It’s just great,” he concluded.
Daryl said he really enjoys the visual aspect of watching his daughter reach milestones and how she applies new things that she learns. He expressed how amazing it is to see her quickly adapt to new concepts and apply them.
For Dannette, her joy in parenting is rooted in her daughter’s personality and her growth as a person.
“Man, I like her. I enjoy her company. She’s funny. She’s witty. She’s kind. I look at her and I’m like, ‘Wow, you’re a really neat person. I like you. You’re really cool,’” Dannette proclaimed. “Those are the times when I find myself looking at her [and saying] ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I don’t have another word for it, but this is great. That’s one of the things that I really enjoy about her.”
As parents who work full-time, Dannette and Daryl both agreed that it’s important to make time for family and each other, and to set limits on work obligations. When Dannette was a school psychologist intern, she said it was common for interns and professionals in her field to work through lunch, take work home and leave work late. When her mentor was instructed to stop overworking, she stopped, too. Now, she can count on one hand the number of times she has brought work home.
“Ever since my internship, that’s been something I’ve been aggressively protective of, my work-home balance,” Dannette explained. “And saying, even before I got married and had kids, ‘Hey, I want to be able to spend time with my family and I want to be able to enjoy time with my family without worrying about emails or reports that I haven’t written or what have you.’”
As Daryl sat beside Dannette in their living room, he nodded in agreement with Dannette’s explanation of the importance of setting boundaries and doing what’s best for yourself. He commented that setting a precedent for work limitations is crucial to avoid other aspects of a person’s life from suffering, like children and family.
“Be intentional about it. It’s really about drawing boundaries. No one knows how to take care of yourself better than you, so it’s allowing yourself the freedom and the authority to do so,” Daryl said.
Their advice to other parents is to carve out time for family and quality time as a way to hold on to and keep joy. Dannette said she and Daryl look at pictures from a year ago, when Gabriella was two years old, and realize that their baby is gone and is now a big kid.
“We’re never going to have this little bitty, round baby-looking girl again. All the things that she was doing then, we are reliving through memories on our phones. I don’t want to be missing out on that and having to only rely on my captured memories from pictures and videos,” Dannette voiced.
She’s glad to be parenting with Daryl. Together, they want their daughter to see a united front, a team, that doesn’t yell, argue or fight. Dannette said she is very mindful of how their relationship as parents is going to trickle down generations.
“That’s important to me as I raise a young lady who’s going to be in a relationship, that she chooses a partner that treats her with respect and kindness and love,” Dannette explained. “I’m [also] going to be raising a son. He is going to be the partner that treats his partner with kindness and respect and love.”
Dannette hopes that she and Daryl will always be a safe place for her children. She wants her kids to feel open and comfortable talking with her and her husband if they have a problem. Eventually, she hopes to be friends with her children like how she is friends with her parents.
“I want them to be kind, loving individuals and have that [same] touch [in] their other relationships, their work relationships, their relationships with their partners, their relationships with their kids,” Dannette summarized.
Daryl expressed that he hopes his children will be selfless and able to look at the world and address problems they come across. He hopes they will be able to step back and look at issues in the world and think, “How can I make this better, not just for myself, but for others?”
“I hope that they’re able to live in a world where they’re free to feel comfortable to be themselves. I also hope for them that they’re able to, as they grow up, do whatever they want to do in life. I want them to pursue their passions,” Daryl explained.