TELL US ABOUT THREE TO BE AND HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED.
THREE TO BE is a charitable organization that was inspired by my amazing children — Taylor, Cole and Brody who are now 10-year-olds (yes, they are triplets!). They were born extremely prematurely and as a result of that, they all have a neurological disorder called Cerebral Palsy.
As you can imagine, I was devastated when we got the diagnosis, but I was motivated by the love for my kids to do anything and everything to give them the most hope for a promising future. I wanted to bring awareness to neurological disorders as a whole and was just so passionate about raising money for research and therapies that can help kids like my own kids.
After eight short years, we raised over $5 million supporting the most innovative research programs. 2017 was our final year and I am just so proud of what THREE TO BE has accomplished and will forever be grateful to everyone who was a part of it.
WHAT ASPECT OF THREE TO BE ARE YOU THE MOST PROUD OF?
THREE TO BE was a labour of love. It was so incredible to see our community come together for an amazing cause. I am so proud of so much but if I had to narrow it down to three things, here they are:
The first is that the research we supported in the beginning translated into a national clinical trial for children with cerebral palsy in the end. It was amazing to be a part of the journey and watch it grow from laboratory research to something that has the potential to help so many children and their families.
The second was our parent/caregiver support group called PAL (Parent Advocacy Link). PAL is a lifeline for so many families and will still live on. It was and will continue to be spearheaded by another mom. If you are a parent of a child with a neurological disorder and want to connect with other parents on this journey, add PAL on Facebook. PAL is my #1 place to go as a mom when I need advice on anything and everything.
Finally, I am tremendously proud of the legacy that THREE TO BE has left behind for my children. When they are older, they will be able to look back and see what they inspired.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? BIGGEST JOYS? BIGGEST CHALLENGES? BIGGEST SURPRISES?
My kids have made me so proud every step of the way. They are literally miracle children and have been through more than most people will go through in a lifetime. Taylor, Cole and Brody all need wheelchairs and help with every day things like feeding them, going to the washroom, playing, doing their homework, and everything in between.
The most rewarding thing about being their mom is seeing their expression and reaction when they accomplish something they have worked so hard to achieve. The pride that exudes from their entire body and their beautiful smiles makes me tremendously proud to be their mom. I get such joy watching them accomplish their goals.
The most challenging part of being a mom is watching my kids struggle with things that are beyond their control — usually having to do with mobility. It is hard when they cannot participate in something that other kids take advantage of. I just try to change things up so that they can participate in a way that works for them. It is all about making things happen!
The biggest surprise with motherhood is how we adapt to every situation. No matter how many curve balls have been thrown at us as a family, we have made things work with a smile on our faces (most of the time). In all honesty, if you would have told me this is what our life would have looked like 10 years ago, it would have been extremely overwhelming to handle. I do believe that the journey in getting you to the point you are at is what sets you up to handle everything. Motherhood is an amazing thing. You truly don’t know how strong you are until life gives you a reason to be strong and more importantly, strong is the ONLY choice you have.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR KIDS NAMES?
Taylor Layla, Cole Eyden and Brody Max are my children’s full names. Their first names were names that we loved and their middle names are all after grandparents who have passed on.
HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL NIGHT OUT?
I honestly set up time for myself the way you do when you have an appointment or a meeting. You would never cancel on a meeting with an important client or friend so why should you make that exception for yourself? This is also easier said than done ;)
I am divorced and remarried so on the nights that I don’t have my kiddies, it gives me the time I need to refuel and recharge for the next day. My husband, Jason and I got married in June 2017 and it was incredibly emotional and special. To watch my kids come down the aisle, dance with them on the dance floor and be a part of our wedding day – it was truly priceless.
My ideal night out with Jason would be dinner and a movie. I also enjoy hanging out with my girlfriends — either at one of our houses or going out for dinner and drinks.
ANY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS?
My house is a busy household and we always have much on the go. It is nice to always spend time hanging out as a family before bed. We either have a dance party, do yoga/meditation (where they giggle the entire time), read a book together (the last book we read as a family was Wonder) or play games. It is a good way to connect and have fun at the end of a long day.
A FUNNY STORY YOU WANT TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN/SOMETHING THEY SAID OR DID TO MAKE YOU LAUGH?
My son Brody is non-verbal, yet has so much to say. He has an amazing sense of humour. He communicates with a smile for yes and a pursing of the lips for no. When he doesn’t like something you said or wants to get a rise out of you – he will give you the middle finger. In fact, I will never forget the first time he met his new school principal and yup – he flipped him the bird. We were all laughing uncontrollably.
YOU WERE NOMINATED AS A "MOMSPIRATION." WHAT DOES THIS WORD MEAN TO YOU? WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
It is honestly so flattering to nominated for this. I think when you are tasked with the incredible role of being a mom you just do everything in your power to be the best mom you can be. People often say that they wouldn’t be able to handle the challenges I have been faced with – but like I said, until you are in a situation where you are forced to step up, you have no idea what you are capable of. I am no more special than anyone else.
I have met so many incredible moms on this journey and they are my inspiration for sure. One mom in particular who is such a role model to me is Ellen Schwartz.
When my children were diagnosed with CP many years ago, I read this book called “Lessons From Jacob” written by Ellen. It was a book about a mother’s journey with her son who has a rare, neurodegenerative disorder. I read each page hanging on to every single inspiring word that this woman wrote. This book was pivotal for me.
Through Ellen’s words I learned that A) I wasn’t alone and that B) Life could still be beautiful and full and hopeful even when facing obstacles that, at the time seemed impossible. I knew after I read this book that I had to meet this amazing woman. That was 8 years ago. My connection with Ellen is one that will bind us together forever. I am so grateful for our friendship and bond that we share and for the life lessons that she has taught me through her positivity and refreshing perspective on life.
ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM FOR FELLOW NEW MOMS?
Do not underestimate what you are capable of as a mother. Life is all about surprising yourself and realizing your full potential.
Also, try not to be too hard on yourself. As women, we are built to take on a ridiculous amount of pressure and stress and it is easy to overwhelm ourselves. Just breathe and realize that whatever you don’t finish today can be accomplished tomorrow.