THERE’S no doubt mothers are experts in balancing their private and public life while juggling between home and office given their daily unlimited responsibilities.
It’s not an easy ride for many working mothers who hold extra responsibilities because it means sacrificing quality family time for work and other responsibilities.
Meet, Lanelle Tanangada, 42, the current Member of Parliament (MP) for Gizo/Kolombangara constituency in Western Province.
She made history as the first female and a mother to enter politics in 2018 following a by-election. Five years on and she continues to lead her constituents.
As a mother, wife and a national leader the responsibility is far more greater than a normal house wife.
The Minister of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) yesterday acknowledged all the mothers nation-wide.
“Mother’s day is a time to reflect on the blessing of having to say ‘thank you’ to one’s dear mother and make her feel special.”
She has two children but also looks after eight other children under her responsibility to support their education so they live with her at home.
So it’s a responsible she also takes of as well.
She started her education journey after attending Vura Kindy School before going on to Burns Creek Adventist Primary School and Palm Drive International to complete her primary level.
For her six years of secondary education she had it completed at Betikama Adventist College (BAC).
She then proceeded into the tertiary level by attending Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to attain her Bachelor in Secondary Education – major English minor Geography.
After returning to the country she taught at Kukudu Adventist College (KAC) on Kolombangara for few years before going onto to New Zealand where she undertook a Masters in Education-Language at the University of Waikato.
She returned and continues to teach at Kukudu, Burnscreek Adventist High School and then Betikama.
Since joining the government she held a number of portfolios and roles.
Some of them are listed below;
Parliamentary Committee Appointments
• Member, Health and Medical Services Committee August 2018 to October 2018.
• Member, Education and Human Resources Training Committee from August 2018 to October 2018.
• Chair of Health and Medical Services Committee October 2019 to June 2020
• Member of Bills and Legislation Committee October 2019-June 2020
• Member of Education and Human Resources Training Committee October 2019-June 2020
• Minister of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs from October 2018 to April 2019.
• Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services May 2019-September 2019
• Minister of Education and Human Resource Development June 2020 to Current Date
As one of the four female MPs in the current House there are some challenges she face. Some of them are; balance work and family commitments, braving criticisms when making decisions from Constituency to Ministerial Responsibility and having the extra energy to go another mile with work commitments and role as a mother at home; and She said as a mother figure at home, her children look up to her, and a challenge she faces is to help her children to be resilient and brave public criticisms in the political arena.
Despite these challenges she makes sure she was able to balance work while taking care of her family.
And it’s quite challenging, especially when her constituency responsibility is a 24/7 obligation.
Not only that but ministerial responsibilities is also equally important as they work according to schedules and due dates.
“So I go the extra mile to sacrifice family time to do some of these responsibilities. I still cannot break this challenge but I am managing because I have a supportive family who also shoulders some of the responsibilities at home, with two children who are teenagers, it makes my work easier and they are very helpful and cooperative.
“In addition, of course I have extended family and friends whom their unwavering support is never ending,” she said.
The Gizo/Kolombangara MP added one of her greatest challenges is finishing work on time and attend to family commitments.
“I work after hours when I have work that needs to be done or work during weekends when I should be spending time with my family. That is my greatest challenge – managing my time for work and family.”
Each day she started off her day at home by allowing time for prayer and devotion.
“Because I have teenage children at home, it makes my morning less difficult. Start the day with prayer and devotion and if there are constituents who come to your house very early in the morning, I attend to them before rushing to work.”
She said, at one time, she got to see an average of three to five individuals, listen to their concerns and address them before recommending them to the constituency office.
Since becoming a MP lack of enough free time for quality family time is real, she added.
“I would say yes, I still have time for my family, but not the quality time I used to have when being an ordinary secondary school teacher.”
However, she is being blessed to have a daughter who constantly reminds her.
“That I need to simply be her mother and be ME at times and not be too busy with work commitments.”
During her free time she would attend to family gatherings like weddings, funerals and other functions, take her children to the garden to plant food, visit the sick, shut ins and simply spend time play table tennis at home with her children and visit her extended family and friends.
Since entering politics she said she has had a good share of public criticisms and name calling.
But to handle that she said; “One thing I have taught myself to do is to avoid entertaining myself into reading all the negativity that is thrown at me with my emotions. “I always tell myself that I must be open minded and seek for the good in that criticism that will help me to be a better citizen and to see things from both angles. That is being critical.
“Not all criticism is bad. But when I am given a chance to remedy situations, I consult, I read, I seek advise then I become an avenue to explain things so that people understand why things are done, or decisions are made.
“This has made me to be more resilient to the negativity that is thrown at me. I do not totally turn a blind eye.
“I always tell myself ‘Silence is Golden’ you don’t have to argue to prove your point, but you can help someone to understand your side of the story, if he/she wishes to listen.”
Being a leader living and working with rural mothers even before entering politics, she had witnessed the struggles they face.
“Mothers are the strongest person I know. Because they wear so many hats, from being the home manager, to providing the security for their children, to ensuring that their children are given the best. Yet they are vulnerable to a lot of challenges.
She said there are single mothers who struggle to ensure their children attain quality education.
“I have mothers who are victims of climate change, their land, garden and shelter is at a risk
“Mothers who travel distance to access clean water, and at times face challenge of no clean water and proper sanitation.
“Mothers who are victims of domestic violence, but keep rising against all odds,” said the MP who is ready to recontest in the next national general election.
She confirmed to the paper that she is ready to serve her constituents.
“Yes of course. It all totally depends on people’s power, the very ones who have put me to represent them for the past five years.”
Mother’s day was celebrated over the weekend.
And she expressed mothers deserve some recognition so this is a time of the year when everyone offer their thanks to their mothers.
“Everyday mothers deserve to feel special. But there is one day each year that we honour our mothers.
“To me, Mother’s Day is a time I reflect on the blessing of having to say thank you to my dear mother and make her feel special.”
Like all children growing up she also acknowledges her own mother in the past.
“Growing up, I made sure that I write a special Mother’s Day card for my dear mother and give her a hug and flower. That was all I could afford on Mother’s Day.
“I did not realise how much it meant to my mother, that she kept all the Mother’s Day cards until her passing,” said Mrs Tanangada, who lost her mother in 2012.
“It was difficult because she was my best friend, but they say time heals.
“But I am thankful that her influential life has shaped me to becoming who I am today.”
Reflecting on one of the things she missed from her mother is her understanding heart and the precious times she avails for her to simply share and talk about life.
She said there are special moments she had with her Late mum that still lingers on.
“There are so many special moments I have had with my dear mother.
“The special moments that I treasure to date, is simply tagging along with her to visit at the hospital, to sing in the Sun Valley Choir, to visit families who lost their loved ones, to support family members during wedding ceremonies and to run branch Sabbath school to little children.
“These are selfless moments I recalled with my dear mother.”
She added the common saying ‘Gone but not forgotten’ is that true with her Late mum.
“This saying is very true. Our mothers live on in us. We do carry and resemble them and that is the beauty of being blessed with a dear mother.”
She recalled that there were moments, times and situation when she do things and think about her mother.
“When life throws all the cruel things, it’s those moments that I wish my dear mother was around and I miss her.
“Because she will always give me the heads up to face all odds and keep going. She doesn’t tear me down, but builds me to be strong.”
For those children who are still lucky to have their parents she has this to say;
“Cherish your dear parents. They are your gems God has blessed you with. Treasure them every single moment you have.”
For this mother’s day celebration she and her daughter planned to visit few mothers and simply say thank you for their support and love towards her family.
As a mother it’s her dream that her children will become responsible citizens of this beloved country and contribute positively towards nation building.
“And most of all be grateful for the life that God has blessed them with.”
As part of the mother’s day she also pays tribute and acknowledges other young working mothers out there who are also facing similar challenges.
“My deep respect for other young working mothers of this nation. Thank you for your positive contribution towards nation building.
“Be a positive wave of influence in your little corner and know that women are bold and brave but very considerate and so we work best when we work in partnership with men.”
Many families over the weekend celebrated Mother’s Day with various activities.
By MOFFAT MAMU