May 2010 Profile: Terrie Williams
Marital Status: Single
Residence: New York
Children: Roc, age 32
Profession: Terrie Williams, one of Ebony magazine’s “Power 150” for Activism and Woman’s Day magazine “50 Women On A Mission To Change The World”, is the head of her own self-titled public relations agency, an advocate for mental health awareness, and the author of four books, including the most recent Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting.
She is founder of the Stay Strong Foundation, national youth mentoring organization. It was established in conjunction with Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens, the second book authored by Terrie. The title focuses on challenges faced by kids and presents empowering, positive alternatives and advice to help youth rise above and become dynamic individuals. Its invaluable lessons and messages were developed into a school curriculum utilized by numerous teachers and educators.
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)? At what age did you take in your son, and how old was he?
A: This was not so much my decision as my destiny. Ironically, it was the worst time to take on the added challenge as my business was at the height of its success and I was unknowingly battling clinical depression.
I met Roc when he was sixteen and I was 39. I was organizing a mentoring program for young men at the time, and his family life was so full of insurmountable challenges that I took him in and supported him through college. He had such a powerful life force and I felt connected to him almost immediately.
Q: What do you love about your career?
A: I have been blessed to be given the opportunity to help people from all walks of life transform their lives and reach their full potential by exposing them to new and different experiences.
Q: What is most challenging about your work?
A: I guess its the non-stop truth that if one wants to be and stay at the top of their game, it is imperative that they stay informed and engaged in all areas of their chosen field and that they keep abreast of new trends that may have an impact on what they do. Also, running your own agency is a sometimes grueling and heavy load, and you have to remind yourself to put the oxygen mask over your own face first.
Q: How long are you doing it?
A: The Terrie Williams Agency opened its doors in 1988.
Q: Where do you see yourself heading?
A: I hope to continue doing work that informs and inspires and to spend more time getting to know Terrie.
Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: I have learned to be more patient, and learned how to disagree and argue while feeling safe that the relationship will stay in tact. This ability to disagree purposefully and then to move forward were not reinforced during my childhood.
Q: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good & not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you?
A: The surprising thing is that there have only been positive experiences – some have required that I challenge my own areas of inadequacy like my ability to be patient and my listening skills, but I have never known an unconditional love like this and the experience continues to fulfill me in many ways.
Q: What did you most try to teach your son?
A: I try to teach him, in deed and word, about my own philosophy of the “personal touch” – which says that it’s the little things that matter, such as how you speak to and treat people, and how you honor them as whole human beings.
Q: Would you mentor another child?
A: I have several kids/young people who send me mother’s day..father’s day cards every year because they see me as a parent. I haven’t for a moment regretted not having had birthed a child. I realized that if my spirit, way of thinking and living and — my presence is out there — 100 fold — in the hearts and minds of the kids, I would live beyond my existence — so I didn’t have to birth a child.
Q: Where did you turn, if any place, for support as a mom? How important do you think it is to connect with mom peers?
A: I have many sisters in the struggle with whom I confide–some of whom are parents and some of whom are not. It does, indeed, takes a village to raise a human being.
Q: Do you consider yourself a role model for other later moms or aspiring late moms?
A: If I am a role model, then it is only to showcase that there is always room in your life to mentor a young person no matter one’s own challenges.
Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: You don’t have to give birth to be a mother and you don’t have to be related to be family.
Q: Do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms?
A: Of course. Many women are not only choosing to have/adopt children later, they are also choosing to do it alone. They need sound, professional resources that can help.
Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or mother figure share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you strived to pass on to your son?
A: My mom has been great. One of my most rewarding moments was when my son called her “grandma” and she began responding in kind by calling him “grandson.” She also taught me the importance of really “being present” and not just in the room.
Q: What is your son doing now?
A: He is doing very well and working in the healthcare industry.
Q: Would you like to share with readers anything particularly unique to your situation?
A: I consider myself only uniquely blessed in that Roc was specifically and divinely given to me. Like all many older, first-time mothers, I had had plenty of time to be absorbed about my own personal goals and desires. The greater gift has been seeing me through someone else’s eyes. I got to know his biological mother… after years of having him in my life..it was when we saw each other at his college graduation that we hugged — and she simply said “Thank You” enough said… because I said Thank you for having him.