I was nominated to contribute to the #RockingMotherhood series by Chelle Del Rosario – the blogger behind Coffeeheartmind! She was one of my first blogger friends, since I’ve started this new endeavor! You should definitely check out her blog. I dig all she has going on from Motivational Mondays to Feature Fridays (where I was a guest blogger). Thanks again for that awesome experience, Chelle.
While excited to be nominated, I began wondering how much can I add to this Rocking Motherhood Challenge. My daughter is barely 20 months old and she is my only child. What could I possibly add to this conversation, I thought? Then with some reflection I realized that I can share my experiences even if she isn’t two years old yet. I’ve learned so much over the past 20 months and know I will gain more knowledge as the years pass because motherhood is an ongoing learning process. There is no handbook. We talk to other mothers, read, implement and evaluate to see what works. My background as an educator helps for sure, but there is nothing like having my own child. I can’t send her home at the end of the day! Even so, I proudly rock being Aria’s mommy.
Here are the 10 ways that I Proudly Rock Motherhood Despite a Chronic Illness: #RockingMotherhood
1. Unconditional Love: I remember a seasoned mother said to me when she was about six months old, “You never knew you could love someone so much, huh?” I couldn’t agree more. Aria Malia, the love of my life and miracle child, has definitely made me a better person. I am much more patient because I have to be. She is constantly moving and teaching me about life. She adds so much life to the house. Having her changed me in so many ways, physically and emotionally. I never knew I could love someone so much. My joy and heart has taught me about unconditional love.
2. Creating Happiness: Aria is a happy baby who is always smiling, laughing and singing, which signifies she is content. I must be doing something right. Aria is surrounded by so much love from my family to her babysitter. She is truly a blessing.
3. Education is key: Learning is constant in our household. When she was two months old, I began reading to her. When I ask her to read me a book now, she opens it and starts to identify the objects in the book. She knows what the letter A looks like and sings her entire alphabet. Our next step is to put meaning behind the letters and to identify sounds.
4. Health and wellness: Aria is a healthy and thriving girl for that I am so grateful. Having an autoimmune illness and a genetic disorder, I was afraid my daughter would inherit some of these traits, but she didn’t. I had her tested at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital when she was two months old. I made it a point to tell her pediatrician about my conditions, Graves’ Disease which is a thyroid disorder that proved difficult to treat because to make matters worse, I have a genetic mutation that prevented my medication from working properly. Being compound heterozygous, due to the MTHFR genetic mutation, wreaked havoc on my body. This mutation caused methylation issues that prevented my body from digesting food and functioning properly. I am currently a pill poppin’ animal: I take thyroid medication and supplements all day long just to function. It is not easy. I never leave home without my pill box. Even though I am chronically ill, which most people don’t recognize because I look “okay” on the outside, I still find time to play with her and do activities on the weekend. One activity will exhaust me for the day, but it’s well worth it to see my baby girl smile.
5. Source of my inspiration, my muse: While pregnant with Aria, I thought of the many ways she will impact this world and wrote Oh What Will You Do? It is an empowering book that describes in rhyming prose and with lovely illustration the countless career options available to young girls. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
6. Self-help: Having a baby is a very joyous experience and frightening at the same time. Some mothers report being afraid to be left alone with their new baby, me being one of them. My sentiments were more worrisome. It’s only normal, but a colicky baby who cried and cried is a whole different story I soon learned. After visiting the doctors to no avail, I started reading different articles and found a natural recipe that worked wonders. Homemade Gripe Water. I boiled water for several minutes, steeped two bags of ginger tea and one bag of either Chamomile or Peppermint tea in 4 cups of water along with one tablespoon of fennel seeds and one teaspoon of all natural, organic cane sugar. I let this sit for approximately 30-45 minutes covered. I strained the mix to remove the fennel seeds. Before each feeding, I would give her about 5ml. If she wasn’t given the gripe water first, she would refuse a feeding and if you didn’t know any better you wouldn’t know why she was crying. I quickly realized it was working and started getting more smiles from my pumpkin. I started doing this when she was about 3 months and the crying ceased.
7. Inspiring others: I know the mind is powerful and convey this to the students whom I teach: If you believe it, you can do it. The mind can be limiting and fulfilling: you choose. Every day I am in some type of pain, whether it be my head, my back as I suffer from two herniated discs L4, L5, my feet from the two foot surgeries I had, but I have to survive. The thing is I will do more than survive. I will to thrive. On March 25th, I along with two others will be hosting the area’s first Mind, Body, Soul Connection and the power of spoken word will be one of the topics. Aria is being taught the power of words and self-esteem.
8. Showing her the world: Coming from very humble beginnings, I wasn’t able to travel until I could afford it. Each year in my Advanced Placement class, the students would converse about upcoming trips. These students were from a different social class and had the luxury of taking real vacations. I will never forget one day before spring break in eleventh grade, students were talking about their upcoming trips. One student said he was going to Hawaii with his parents, the others mentioned going to Madrid with the school. When the question found me, I would simply state that I had to work. It was true, but inside I burned. I wanted to go to Spain and Hawaii. I never wanted to feel like that way again, so I made a vow to myself at 16 years old that when I got some real money, I would go wherever I wanted to go, whenever: PERIOD. With gainful employment and an awesome travel club, I’ve been to Mexico, Barcelona, Madrid, China, England, Holland, Czech Republic, Austria, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Belize (Our first official family trip in 2010, my father’s homeland), Barbados, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and numerous big cities in the East, Midwest, South, and West coasts. So far, Aria has been to South Florida, Jamaica, Mexico, and Maui (Hawaii).
This list is not exhaustive; there’s so much more of the world I want to see and show my daughter. I would like her to see the world beyond her inner circle. I don’t want her to be that student in the classroom, when they go around the room discussing upcoming trips, say she has no travel plans. I want her to return to school and provide first-hand knowledge about the Forbidden City in China. And tell them about the pyramids that she visited in Egypt when the lesson calls. She will be well- versed in the world around her beyond the books she has to read.
9. Participating in Activities: We started swim lessons last Saturday and completed lessons and baby gymnastics last summer. Class begins promptly at 9:35 am and afterwards I am exhausted. One activity for the day wears me out and people who know me know that I do not enjoy being in the water. Ironic because I desire to live near the water in a warm climate, preferably South Florida. I find it calming and relish the idea of the water, e.g. jet ski, yacht, boat just not sailing (gives me a queasy feeling). Very particular, I know. I can’t stand that wrinkly feeling after being in the water for so long. Still, I’ve made it my mission to expose my daughter to the water while she is young and capitalize off of her fearlessness. She loves the water and she will LEARN to swim.
10. Diversifying my portfolio: Living day to day with low energy, I have learned to let things go, ignore the dust bunnies, find humor in her toddler behavior, or buy dinner when I just don’t have energy beyond taking care of her and me. Therefore, it is imperative to diversify my portfolio and increase my financial education so that I can leave a legacy for my daughter and take care of us now. I’m currently teaching despite my doctor’s request, but insurance is a necessity when you have chronic conditions. In addition to teaching, I am also an entrepreneur with an amazing travel club, author, professional speaker and editor who founded BitterSweet: Real Talk. In the coming months, I will be unleashing my new plan to raise awareness for chronic illness sufferers also identified as invisible disabilities.
I am supposed to nominate other outstanding mommy bloggers, so I nominate:
Mommy @mommyisntfeelingwell, Dr. Momma @mommaaddict, & Melissa @mommychronicles (and anyone else who would like to participate).
Here are the guidelines:
1. Thank the blogger that tagged you and link to their blog.
2. List at least 10 Things you believe make you a good mother or less if you want.
3. Tag some bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood tag.
4. Grab the #RockingMotherhood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.