|Honor that Special Woman in your Life
While Mother’s Day is a day for gift giving, above all it is for spending time with your mother. Moms work hard all year round and are constantly playing multiple roles. LATINA Style has invited readers to participate in honoring that special woman in their lives. Read the inspirational stories of women balancing life in this special feature dedicated to mothers of all walks of life.
Carmen G. Cantor
U.S. Department of State, Director of the Executive Office of the Bureau of Counterterrorism
My daughters are the sunshines of my life. No matter how my day goes at work, I can’t wait to get home every afternoon to see them. I arrive eager to hear about their days, help them with homework, and take them to soccer practice, girl scout meetings…the list goes on. Balancing motherhood and a high-powered career is never easy. For me, it involves a daily commute from Annapolis, Maryland, to the heart of Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC, to support the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.
My commute is almost an hour long each way daily. Not ideal, but it doesn’t bother me because I enjoy my job and the people I work with. As director of the Executive Office of the Bureau of Counterterrorism, I provide management and oversight of the Bureau’s executive office, which includes budget, procurement, human resources and information technology. The job has its own set of challenges, but is very rewarding. I also dedicate time to advocate for and mentor Hispanic employees and students. As president of the Hispanic Employees Council of Foreign Affairs agencies (HECFAA), I lead a team of dedicated Hispanic employees. We plan career development programs, social events, and meetings with senior level Department officials to discuss issues of importance to the department’s Hispanic community, such as underrepresentation.
But around 4:30 – 5:00 p.m., I leave the office and the rest of my day begins.
As a Latina mom who left Puerto Rico in 1993, balancing work, family, and a personal life has been a challenge, considering my husband and I don’t have a built-in support network nearby. How do we raise a happy, healthy family? We follow a daily routine so everyone knows what to expect. There is room for spontaneity, but we have learned that consistency and great organizational skills are a must. We have a calendar with everyone’s names and activities on it, and we review it every night to make sure everyone is covered.
Times are changing and as the girls have grown, I’ve learned to depend heavily on social networking sites and technology to keep up with them. But we also make time to have conversations around the dinner table.
My life is very exhilarating. I have a great job and a wonderful family. Balancing both is not going to get any easier, but I’m having the time of my life trying to be the best role model for my daughters, trying to teach them to be responsible and caring citizens, and showing them that it can be done: You can balance an exciting career and enjoy the sunshines of your life!
Latin Onshore Sales Account Manager
United Airline industry; Houston, Texas
Sometimes no matter how much time I spend planning and preparing – and even though I work hard to plan my calendar up to three weeks in advance – life just seems to have its own agenda. It’s difficult to juggle tasks and make time for everyone, whether it’s booking a flight for business or ironing my son’s school uniform.
Family, lots of prayer and prioritizing are probably the three things that help me most in balancing all aspects of my life. Time is very valuable and I’ve learned over the years to make every minute count, whether I’m with family enjoying our traditional Friday “movie night” or contributing to a weekly conference call.
As a United Latin Onshore Sales Account manager, I spend about 25 percent of my time traveling. I have a wonderful 9-year-old son and I’m truly blessed with a supportive and resilient husband of 16½ years of marriage. He’s my tag-team partner who plays both roles when I’m out town. He’s an amazing cook (actually better than I am) and does a great job tending to my son’s homework, dinner and overall well-being in my absence.
Both my husband and son influence me daily to strive to do my best. Fortunately, at work I have an outstanding leadership team that understands and respects the importance of work-life balance. I do have some flexibility in my schedule and, thankfully, with technology (laptop and BlackBerry), I’m able to multi-task and stay organized, which helps when you’re combining a career with being a wife and mom.
I find balance and strength from my Christian faith and a solid support network to help me overcome any obstacles I encounter. When things get hectic, I take a deep breath, put on some encouraging music and occasionally even dance! When I’m in a serious rut, I pray often, constantly re-prioritize and certainly, lean on my family and friends.
I’d certainly have to say my faith, family and friends constantly inspire me to keep traveling through this wonderful journey called life.
Vivian P. Quiroga, Esq.
Photo by Leo Reinfeld
JIMMY QUIROGA ® DESIGNS for Lido
I was born in Cuba, but my family moved to America. I grew up in New York and eventually moved to Miami. In college I met my future husband, Jimmy, and also had the honor of becoming valedictorian.
My true calling was business but my professors encouraged me to go to law school. I received my Law degree and we were married. With hard work I became senior counsel at Citibank. Meanwhile, Jimmy joined his family’s jewelry manufacturing business. But when our son was born, our priorities changed. I just could not leave him in someone else’s care. I took a job as corporate counsel and I convinced my employer that I could work from home. Five years later our second son was born.
When Jimmy inherited the business, he asked me to join him as CEO. I worked during our children’s school hours and we created our brand, Jimmy Quiroga ® Designs. We joined minority and women-owned business organizations, and achieved partnerships with Macys, Bloomingdale’s, Sears.com, BJs.com, etc.
I feel I have achieved a balance of the demands of family and work. The blessing of raising two amazing children, enjoying a successful marriage and career, while helping others, is never taken for granted and I am grateful every day of my life!
Monique Barraza - Director Abigail Barraza Foundation
Nikki B Los Angeles - Creative Director
Santa Fe Springs, CA
Based out of Santa Fe Springs, CA, Monique Barraza is the daughter of Abigail Barraza, a Latina who lost her fight to breast cancer in 2005. Two months later Monique started the Abigail Barraza Foundation to spread awareness and education in her mother’s name in underserved areas, including Hispanic communities and other areas that lack awareness such as shelters and treatment centers.
Monique mentors young girls in her local community and educates them to take a proactive approach to their breast health. With a degree in merchandise marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design Merchandising (FIDM) in LA, she is currently working on her first collection that is scheduled to launch in May 2012.
Married and with two children, Benjamin 17 and Brandon 11, she manages in her busy schedule to take the boys and pick them up from school and bring them to practice and games. Even though her friends call her a busy body or a workaholic, she doesn’t feel the pressure like in her other roles or jobs in life. Monique feels at ease and natural in her cancer awareness and education work and is genuinely enjoying the ride; an adventure that she too is curious to see where it takes her. She lives life in the FAB lane!
Adela Yelton, Founder & Proprietor
Bean Work Play Cafe
I'm Adela Yelton, a small business-owner, wife and mom of three boys (a 10-year-old and 6-year-old twins.) Balancing the competing demands of work and life was a challenge for me while working in the corporate world as a CPA and HR executive. After taking some time off, I created a supportive space for parents to work while children play: Bean Work Play Cafe.
Not only do I own the business, but I am also one of my most important clients.
During the day, I manage the day-to-day operations of the business while my children are at school. My business is close to home and school so that cuts down on commuting time and allows me to be present to receive my boys at carpool time and volunteer at my children's school. My own children play at Bean after school, during summertime and school breaks while I work on site. I like this because they get to play and learn and also get the practical life experience of being in an entrepreneurial environment.
My 6-year-old asked me one day while working at the business, “Mom, are you the King of this place?” I said, "No, mijo. I'm more like the Queen."
Building a business can be challenging, but I have learned that it’s okay to say no sometimes and to focus on the things that matter the most to me and my family: raising happy, healthy children who respect themselves and respect others.
Anitza San Miguel
Assistant Professor of Biology at Northern
Photo by Marirosa
Virginia Community College, Manassas Campus
I am a full-time assistant professor of Biology at Northern Virginia Community College. I am a mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, professor, and scientist trying to balance work, family and my personal life. Balancing all at once is not easy but not impossible. Sometimes I think I am super mom. When I am super mom I try to do everything that is demanded of me without asking for help. But, the reality is that I am unable to do everything. There are times that I need to say no, or step back to take a break and then regroup. It is challenging to say no when work and family demand so much of me. However, it is possible to balance the “juggling act”. In trying to balance everything, I try my best to take time to myself. That means going out with a friend for lunch, getting a manicure, shopping with friends, or simply staying at home with my husband and daughter and watching TV. I also take time to be with my husband. We do our best to go out as a couple. This is time for us to go out, have fun and recharge our “batteries”. I also take time to play with my 3-year-old daughter and dedicate quality time to her. Children grow so fast that if we do not take time to be with them, we can miss precious moments that will never come back.
I have four jobs (maybe more). I am a mom to two beautiful children, Ivan, 7 and Gabriela, 2. I am also a wife to Juan Carlos Flores of 12 years. In addition, I am a senior patent attorney at Research in Motion (makers of the Blackberry smartphone) and a public servant (City Councilwoman for 7 years in Coppell, TX). And my most recent job - I am running for Congress! If elected, I would be the 1st Latina in Congress from Texas.
Balancing work, family and public service is what I do best; and I even find time to work out and run/walk. I recently participated in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day (60 mile) walk and the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon.
My number one priority is my family. Conflicts, of course, may arise. But when they do, I find other ways to spend time with my children. My daughter is 2-years-old and in daycare. My time with her is in the morning. I am also the Booster President for her daycare and help coordinate activities/events. Saturday mornings is about the kids - Ivan has piano and Taekwondo and Gabriela has Gymboree. It is also important to spend time with my husband. At least two to three times a month we have a date night. In addition to having a full-time job, I also serve on various boards such as the YMCA, Las Colinas Medical Center, Trinity University Engineering Dept. and LaunchAbility (Early Childhood Intervention). I am a huge advocate for Health and Wellness and have helped launch a “Living Well in Coppell” Initiative. I also make time for friends over lunch or dinner. I have a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering; a JD and an MBA. I turn 40 on Friday (3/23).
What keeps me going? My Faith! My mom always told me that 'God would never give me more than I can handle' and I truly believe that. Every day I pray for strength, energy, courage, patience and knowledge - and I ask God to show me ways to love my family unconditionally. In addition, I could not do all I do without my husband's love and support. He is my number one cheerleader.
San Juanita Garcia
By Maricela Alvarado
LTC, U.S. Army
Professor of Military Science
University of Texas Pan American
When my sister San Juanita Garcia lost her job of more than 20 years, she was devastated and felt her world was falling apart. She went through all the emotions of denial, hopeless, lost. But when she heard her son, R.T. tell his sister Ashley, “Ashley, don't bother mom, can't you see she is can't think straight.” She realized how her emotions were effecting her kids and she decided to do something about it. She realized that this was probably an opportunity for her to go back to school and earn her teaching degree that she never completed.
These past years she has been challenged being a single mom, going to school, and working part-time. Last semester, she was taking 18 hours and this is what her schedule was: wake up before the kids and get them ready for school. After dropping the kids off at school, she would work as a substitute teacher. When the school did not need her, she volunteered at the local police station as a receptionist. After school was out, she would drop the kids off at mom's house and she would drive over 40 miles to attend her afternoon/night classes, the list goes on and on.
Family is important to her and her weekends are spent with her kids, Ashley and R.T. She has become a role model. I used to express to my college students that giving up is not an option. Life throws challenges and hardships at you but it is what you do to overcome them that makes you a winner and who you are.
My sister will graduate in December 2012 and any school district that hires her will be better off because she is a fighter and a motivator who never gives up. They will be getting a huge asset.
Mareth Flores de Francis
Happy and Healthy Wife, Mother, and Fundraiser
I am...grrr...sorry had to pause for a bit because I couldn't remember. Since I got married and then had my child it seems like I have lost count and I had a birthday on the 18th so had to do the math. Ok with all of that said I turned 35. Time flies when you are having fun!
And fun I am having! I never imagined I would actually have the life I do. I was mostly raised by a single mother. My father and then step father were in an out of the picture. These two factors are what kept me motivated every day of my teenage and young adult life. I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck and was determined to find a husband that would love, respect, protect and support me.
Fast forward to present day. I have a career as a fundraiser working for a non-profit Latino civil rights organization. I am a wife to an amazing husband, and a mother to my beautiful Blacktina! I am able to balance my career and life because I have a supportive husband and family and I had to learn to accept help. Because we are women and especially as a Latina, I feel we put undue pressure on ourselves to be amazing at everything. No point in being the jack of a trades and master of none, especially when talking about my family. I learned that if I wanted to lead a healthy life (recently lost 50 lbs!) and be an effective wife and mother, I could not do it alone. It does not mean I am a failure if I accept help.
I have never been happier! I am 35-years-old and married to a man that truly gets what it means to be a partner in life (does the laundry, is an amazing baker, and cleans the bathrooms!), I am the proud mother of a wonderful daughter, I am passionate about my career, my skin has never looked so brilliant, and this is the thinnest I have been since I hit puberty!
It is possible to live a happy, healthy, and balanced life, but we can't do it alone.