Uncommon Moms is a recurring feature of Maternal Journal. Each month, we interview one mom whose life isn’t cookie-cutter or predictable. Why? Part of our work at Maternal Instinct is to help clients unlearn beliefs they hold about motherhood. And with the Census Bureau now reporting that only 4% of households fit the June Cleaver blueprint (working father, SAHM, and kids under 18), it’s never been more critical to widen your view about moms. In truth, all moms are uncommon — there’s no such thing as a common mom anymore.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have 3 children: Brandon is 22 years old and just completed his undergraduate and is preparing for the LSATS; twins, Brittany and Bryant will be attending different colleges this fall after being together for 18 years.
What makes you an uncommon mom?
I am a happily divorced mom who has embraced singleness. My faith in Christ has instilled endless possibilities for my life. I am a ‘parental survivor,’ after losing (at the time) my only child, Alicia to Short Bowel Syndrome. Alicia had over 90% of her intestines removed and was no longer allowed to eat; instead, she was fed intravenously. Although her feeding line (broviac catheter) was concealed by her clothing, we still had to deal with countless stares and comments from children and adults as they questioned the yellowing of her eyes. Alicia’s eyes became jaundiced as a result of her liver being destroyed from her intravenous feedings.
During our journey I was faced with multiple questions, challenges and situations such as:
– How do I explain to my daughter the various comments and stares she encountered?
– How do I explain my daughter’s condition to her, as well as to other children without causing fear?
– How can I encourage peers, families and communities to become more accepting of children dealing with a medical illness or condition?
Alicia passed away at the age of 3 years old, and based on my personal experiences in caring for her, I have continuously seen the need to address an unspoken concern among parents, medical professionals, educators and those involved with children: “What is the most effective and least traumatizing method to explain an illness or condition to a child?”
I have been blessed to develop two companies and one patent that will nurture some of the concerns Alicia and I experienced. Each of my ventures provides information that is designed to educate and enhance communication between children, peers, families and communities.
• “Medically Inspired Reading About Challenging Life Experiences (M.I.R.A.C.L.E.) Online Books TM” provides fiction and non-fiction reading materials that explain real-life medical illnesses and conditions to children (with or without an illness or condition) ranging from 3-17 years old. Estimated launch date is November 2012.
• “Kids With Intestinal DisordersTM (K.W.I.D)” a networking organization that will provide family resources, as well as activities that encourage open communication between children, families, medical professionals and communities. Estimated launch date is March 2013.
• “Therapeutic Dolls” anatomically designed to assist children in understanding a before and after surgical procedure; received my official patent from the United States Patent Trade Office (USPTO) in October 2011.
In what ways are you a traditional mom?
I believe in applying logic, common sense, structure and consistency, all of which I live by and have raised my children with. My children had a bedtime which allowed me to transition from the role of ‘Mom’ and become ‘Pat’ (unless of course there was an emergency). Scheduling allowed me time to keep in touch with myself and develop my creative thoughts.
Otherwise, I perform the normal day-to-day activities such as working a full-time job, picking up and dropping off children, attending after-school and weekend events, visiting selected colleges, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, family time activities, etc.
Can you think of an ad or marketing campaign you’ve seen recently that either “got” you or “missed” you?
I immediately connected to “imbornto” — I am born to — an ad posted on a Chicago public bus and sponsored by the March of Dimes. Whether a child lives for a day, week, month or year, each child has a divine purpose. This ad exemplifies my life purpose also. Although my daughter, Alicia died at the age of 3; the visions inspired within me derived from her birth to her death. So, as you can see, in the midst of her short lived life she had purpose. So yes, I got this ad!
Thanks for talking with us, Pat. Your story touched me very deeply and I salute the work you are doing to honor Alicia’s memory. For any readers who want to get alerts once these new projects launch, please sign up to follow Pat on Twitter. And if you know an Uncommon Mom we should feature in an upcoming Maternal Journal, let us know in the Comments section.