Antoinette Haynes got the call saying she had been named Mother of the Year and thought it was a prank.
She had never heard of the Continental Society of Bermuda’s annual competition and had no idea her son, Jordan Williams, had written about her for it.
“I was so surprised,” she said, recalling how she had asked whether the person had the right number.
Ultimately, her son confirmed he had sent an essay in.
“It felt pretty good to win,” Jordan said, adding that he did not expect it because others in his class at Harrington Sound Primary School had written much more.
Ms Haynes pointed out that maybe his was chosen because of its content rather than its length.
The nine-year-old’s winning entry spoke of the love his mother showed him and described her as his “national treasure”.
“My mom should be Mother of the Year because she is loving, faithful, she cares about everyone, she makes sure that I have the best education and she make sure that I am safe,” it reads in part. “I love mom, no other mother can replace her. She is my national treasure.”
His was chosen from more than 400 essays by Primary 3 and Primary 4 students in government schools.
Jordan said his words were inspired by all the things his mother did for him.
“I tried to think what would make my mother win, because I knew that would make her happy,” he said.
Ms Haynes and Albert Williams arrived in Bermuda from Jamaica in 2010 when Jordan, their only child, was only a month old.
The 39-year-old physiotherapist said motherhood had been “interesting” so far.
“It certainly doesn’t come with a manual,” she said.
“It has been very humbling and I think children keep you humble and accountable. You can’t just say something and not do it.
“If I say something to him and expect him to respond in a certain way then he expects me to do the same thing. If I don’t, then he is really quite good at calling me out on it.”
What has been most enjoyable for her is watching how Jordan’s personality has evolved and his development from “dependent baby to independent [child]”. Discipline has proven to be her greatest challenge.
“It is a balancing act of being consistent with discipline but allowing them to be children. You have to speak a million times sometimes before they move and you have to say the same thing over and over again before it starts to sink in.”
Ms Haynes will officially be named Mother of the Year in a ceremony at Harrington Sound Primary today. The honour would not have been possible without Mr Williams, she stressed.
“He is a really good dad. The extent to which a mother can be the best mother she can be is dependent on the dad, sometimes. Having that support makes such a big difference. It means you can focus your motherly role.”
Together, she and Mr Williams help Jordan understand just how important education is.
“On Sundays, I make him write essays,” Ms Haynes said.
“If he reads a book, I make him write about it afterwards. If you comprehend something you should be able to write about it.”
She also makes sure her son uses a dictionary while he writes.
“It was hard to make him do that at first, but now it has gotten easier,” she said.
“If they know it needs to be done, they rise to the expectation and over time it gets easier.”
Ms Haynes said she does not know if it helped Jordan win the competition, but she believes every little bit helps.
“The school can only do so much,” she said.
“Parents need to work together with the school to get the best out of our children.”
With their help, Jordan has never received a grade less than 85 per cent.
Mathematics is his favourite subject. At the moment, he would like to be a Pokémon trainer — a person who catches, trains, cares for and battles with the cartoon characters — or a marine biologist.
“In the summer, I like to go to the beach, ride my bicycle and play basketball,” he said. “I also try to get Mom to work out. Once I did four pull-ups on a bar. Mom tried and couldn’t do one.”
Her only hope for Mother’s Day is a chance to sleep in, Ms Haynes said.
“I usually get a spa voucher ,but I reserve that for afterwards because it is a very busy day,” she said.
“Jordan has done breakfast in bed for me. Last year, he made a picnic at Astwood Park with his snacks and things like that.”