Not All Superheroes Wear Capes


A mother’s work never ends

Mothers usually take on multiple roles in the household. From teacher to a chef to housekeeper and CEO, a mother’s job is endless. So, how do you balance it all, running the household, working full-time, raising the kids, school functions, being a wife and the list goes on and on, and on some more?

Natrenah Blackstock, wife, mother and director at the Ingham and Clinton County Department of Veterans Affairs, implements an eight, eight, eight rule: eight hours working, eight hours being a wife, mother and leisure time, and eight hours sleeping. A veteran herself, Blackstock follows her passion for helping other vets find the resources available to them to help them live a better life.

“It’s more like reaching back and helping fellow veterans,” Blackstock said. “Making a difference as it pertains to the quality of life.”

Following three years on active duty, Blackstock served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. Although her duty ended, her service did not. She spent seven years as the director of the Georgetown County Department of Veterans Affairs in Georgetown, South Carolina, before bringing her talents to Michigan to take on her new role as director of Ingham and Clinton county VAs.

She explained some situations where being a mom is similar to what she deals with at the VA. The VA is more than a resource for vets, it’s a support system, a place to be heard, counseled and a means of transportation. It’s a place to educate and help, kind of like a mom. It’s clear when talking to Blackstock how much she cares for her fellow vets. In fact, her role as a mother may be one of her traits that helps in her VA role. Let’s be honest; moms have that intuition that when something is wrong; they’re usually there with a solution. Blackstock’s role in her career isn’t much different.  “It’s the nurturing, the intuition. We’re trained tough.” Blackstock explained. “Regardless of what branch someone is in, we can say we are trained tough, and to look at a person who is trained tough and see to that someone is broken, that as that mothering, nurturing instinct… they’re the same skills.”

It’s no shock that being a mother with a full-time career is hard work. Being a mom in general is hard work. But it is also one of the most rewarding jobs anyone can take on. Blackstock explained how it is the most rewarding thing is seeing her children’s success.

“When they succeed, when they receive an award or recognition to acknowledge the fact that they learned it from their mom,” Blackstock said. “It can literally take you into tears.”

As a mother of three, Blackstock feels education is one of the most important things to instill because that covers an umbrella of things. She ensures she spends quality time with her children; a daughter age 15, and two sons ages 15 and 5. Friday night is family night, a weekly staple in the Blackstock household where they play games and enjoy each other’s company. They also travel as a family with a biannual trip to South Carolina to see family, and of course, enjoy the warmth and sunshine that we lack here in Michigan during winter.

“It’s how we make it through the winter months,” Blackstock joked.

When asked what’s one piece of advice she would give a new mother, Blackstock replied, “Don’t skip out on self-care. That’s something I learned the hard way. Regardless of how hectic life gets I have to take that time as alone time.”

Although she has a full plate already, Blackstock takes time to do philanthropy outside of the work she does as a mother and VA director. She is currently involved in and passionate about community youth after partnering with Michigan State University’s 4-H program. She is in the process of launching an urban agriculture initiative for underprivileged children on the south side of Lansing.

It’s just one more motherly trait that Blackstock demonstrates and one more reason why she and all mothers are important to our daily lives and community.

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