Atlanta TV anchor’s book celebrates moms, famous and unknown

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ATLANTA — Veteran broadcaster Karyn Greer has added another string to her bow. The longtime anchor for NBC’s Atlanta affiliate, 11 Alive, has just published a book celebrating the trials and triumphs of motherhood.

The self-published book, which came out at the beginning of the month, just in time for Mother’s Day, is entitled I Am a Mother.  It features well-known names such as Nia Long, Jasmine Guy, Regina Belle and Tichina Arnold.  Though when you flip through the pages you’ll also see photos of variety of women: celebs and non-celebs alike, from all races and walks of life — women who have endured multiple miscarriages, a terminal illness and given birth to the physically or mentally challenged children.

The book also includes stories of daughters and mothers of famous people like the late Lucimarian Roberts — mother of Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts. The 88-year-old died last year prior to the release of I Am a Mother.

Each of the 52 handpicked women was asked to pen a short, concise essay, exploring what it means to be a mom. The results are surprisingly honest, and sometimes heart-wrenching, accounts of the rewards and inevitable tests that come with raising a child.

Despite all the types of challenges that come with being a mother, the common theme is these women “love their child no matter what,” says Greer, a mother of two teenage boys, who she also features in her book.

Greer, who reveals in her own essay that she had an “early miscarriage” after the birth of her first son, Kyle, adds, “We don’t all have perfect kids. There are kids who are challenging. The key is to love and nurture them and let them be the best they can.”

Greer compiled the book with author David Manuel. I Am a Mother is the second book of his three book series, the first being I Am a Father: Celebrating African-American Fathers, which was published in 2007.

“It’s great to be recognized for all the nurturing we do,” says Tammy Von Nordheim, who doubles as one of the women featured in the book as well as one of the photographers for the project.

“When we finally had these girls it was an overwhelming feeling of love: a combination of acceptance, validation and being cherished,” says Von Nordheim, the mother of two biracial girls, Reese, 7, and Remi, 6. She says she doesn’t take lightly the “task of shaping these little lives.” She adds it’s important that her daughters “know both sides of their heritage. The other day my 7-year-old said she liked brown dolls and I knew I was doing something right.”

In an interview with theGrio, Aliyah D. Najm says, although she’d already had three children, she had such a strong desire for a fourth child, she underwent fertility treatments. That fourth child, who was born in 1985, was named Faheem Rasheed Najm. He now goes by the name of T-Pain.

Talking about her relationship with her celebrity son, Najm says, “Our relationship is like a regular mom and son,” though she admits, when she goes to T-Pain’s shows, “I’m an old groupie. I take more pictures, get more excited and dance more than anyone else.”

Martin Luther King, III’s wife, Andrea Walters King, writes about the challenges living up to the King legacy.

“While I am very conscious that she is the only grandchild of Martin and Coretta King and the meaning of that legacy – she is also my daughter,” King says. “I worry that she might get a false sense of herself because people are anxious to adore her – not for her qualities, but because of her family legacy.”

Others in the book reflect on their experiences of juggling a successful career with the demands of motherhood. Grammy-winner Regina Bell describes herself as a proud mother, but writes, “I regret not having enough time to spend with my children.”

Environmental activist Laura Turner-Seydel echoes the same sentiment. “In a perfect world, I would have been a more hands-on mom, spending more time cooking. We have family meals, but not as often as I would like.”

Other special women in the book include Debbi Scarborough, whose first born Steven has Asperger syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Scarborough writes when she couldn’t find a private school in Atlanta that would “challenge him academically and help him develop social skills” she went ahead and set up a school herself. Cumberland Academy of Georgia was founded by Scarborough and her husband in 2007.

The book also features Sharon Tomlinson, who was diagnosed with congestive heart failure just four weeks before giving birth to her first child. Another inspiring young woman in the book is Danielle Beverly, who in June 2007, at 36 weeks pregnant, was told she had breast cancer.

“I sat in the doctor’s office looking at my big, round, beautiful belly that was filled with this precious life. Moments later, I was given my third diagnosis of breast cancer,” Beverly writes.

I am a Mother is available online at I Am Books.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye at @kunbiti on Twitter.