By Andrea Waxman Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Published May 11, 2019 at 6:06 PM

Do NOT forget your mother on Mother’s Day! It’s coming up on Sunday, May 12.

To help get in the spirit of the holiday that celebrates the women who brought us into the world – or who took on the mother role – we asked several young people, ages 9 to 27, what their mothers mean to them.

Here’s what they said:

"She’s the community mother"

Sojourner White, age 24, has seven "actual siblings." But, she said, "every time I see new people or when I go home now, there’s somebody else calling (my mother, Venice Williams) mom.'

"I think it took a long time for me to figure out that she’s the community mother," said White about Williams, the executive director of Alice’s Garden.

White especially admires the way her mom can reach people who society has "labeled unreachable or not worth it." Williams approaches everyone equally, regardless of race or background, said White.

"I think that has manifested in Alice’s Garden – the diversity that’s there is the product of how she’s able to connect with people and build them up," said White.

Williams is also "super fun," according to her daughter. "She has this balance where she can go from ‘mom-in-charge’ mode to ‘mom-just-hanging-out’ mode," and that makes for a great relationship – a deep comfort with each other.

She’s "outside the box"

Sharlen Moore’s twin sons Malachi and Matthew, age 15, admire their mother for her strength and kindness. Matthew described her as "outgoing, respectful, talkative, a loving person and independent."

His mom, the founder of Urban Underground, pushes him to do things he doesn’t want to do but knows will help him find opportunities in life, he said. "She thinks more outside the box and into the future than I do."

Malachi said he looks up to his mom because of how determined and hard- working she is. She had to work very hard to make a living after emigrating from Jamaica, where she was born and raised.

"She taught me how to be patient, how to show kindness, empathy and sympathy for others …  and that it’s better to give than to receive," said Malachi, adding,  "I love her strongly even though we have our ups and downs."

"She is the best mother"

Tsuchi Thao, age 9, and his sister CyaSha, age 11, also spoke of their appreciation for their mother’s kindness. May Yer Thao is the executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.

A third grader at Maple Dale School, Tsuchi said he likes to spend time with his mom at the park.

CyaSha, who is in fifth grade at the same school, said what makes her mom special is that "she’s that big, special, cheerful one that stands out from the whole group of moms.

"She is the best mother I could ever have. She comforts me when I’m sad or if someone hurts me."

"Dedication to progress"

For Juan Carlos Zaragoza Jr., 27, his mother, Tammy Rivera, instilled in him and his older brother Jose, 33, a desire to sacrifice themselves for others through her "dedication to progress for people in the hardest situations."

Rivera, the Southside Organizing Center’s executive director, is driven by her faith, Zaragoza said. "Her heart is broken most for people who have no defender."

Zaragoza, the youth programming manager at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and the youth pastor at Root River Church in Franklin, said his mother is a superhero.

"She loves us with all of her heart and goes above and beyond in every way to make sure that we feel that."

"She is a genius"

Melody McCurtis said she aspires to be like her mother, Danell Cross.

McCurtis, 25, works for her mother as an organizer at Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, a neighborhood association where Cross is the executive director.

Having overcome depression and raised six children on her own, Cross has impressed her daughter with her strength and intelligence. "She is a genius," McCurtis said.

"I’m lucky to have a mother like her. I went on a journey when I was 22 to understand my mom and how she grew up and why she’s the way she is. And I think that she’s truly extraordinary to overcome all the things that she’s overcome and still go out every day and tackle life."

Where to take your mom on Mother’s Day

A Mother’s Day tradition for some includes taking mom out for brunch. Here are some local eateries offering Mother’s Day brunches or specials this year – reservations are highly recommended:

2Mesa Mexican Eatery
4110 W. Martin Drive
(414) 808-1594
From 11 a.m.
Regular menu plus Mother’s Day specials

Birch and Butcher
459 E. Pleasant St.
(414) 323-7372
9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Three-course Mother’s Day brunch starting at $26

The Fitz
2308 W. Wisconsin Ave. (in the Ambassador Hotel)
(414) 345-5015
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
$45 adults ($15 for children 12 and under)
Mother’s Day Brunch buffet

Heavenly Grille
831 S. Cesar E. Chavez Drive
(414) 559-6214
From noon
Soul food with Mother’s Day specials

Old Town Serbian Gourmet Restaurant
522 W. Lincoln Ave.
From 11 a.m.
Serbian menu with special Mother’s Day entrees and desserts

Orenda Cafe
3514 W. National Ave.
(414) 212-8573
6 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Regular menu and a free mimosa or glass of wine for mothers

3216 S. Howell Ave.
(312) 834-1929
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Mother’s Day brunch buffet
$28 ($10 for children 10 and younger)

Andrea Waxman Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Andrea Waxman is a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. A professional writer, she is completing a graduate certificate in Digital Storytelling at Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor for a community newspaper and taught English and Japanese in several area middle and high schools.

Waxman has lived in Milwaukee since 1981, but spent most of her early years living in Tokyo, where her father was stationed at the American embassy. She returned to Japan in 1986 and again in 1993 when her husband was there as a Fulbright scholar.

In her free time, Waxman enjoys theater, movies, music, ethnic food, cities, travel, reading - especially the news of the day - and all kinds of people. She is interested in working for social justice and contributing to the vitality of the city.