every mom has super powers. Some we exercise everyday, while others lay
dormant, waiting to be activated.
I’m excited to introduce you to some
“supernova” mamas in a series we’re calling MOMMIES DO THE MOST AMAZING THINGS, hoping these incredible moms, who exercise their powers for the good of their families and for others, will
encourage us all.
Fittingly, since autism is such a personal cause of mine,
we’re launching this series in April (Autism Awareness Month), with a series of
interviews featuring moms raising kids on the Spectrum.
The first mom up
is Julie Cole. A mother of six…yep, I said six, she co-founded a hugely successful
business, Mabel’s Labels. In addition to
being the mompreneur-next-deur, she is a regular parenting contributor on
television, an in-demand public speaker and autism advocate. And did I mention
she is svelte? (See the pix, people!) Looks fab after six kids, but don’t hate
her. She’s awesome. Don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself!
Tina: I have to start by thanking you because I
burned about 600 calories reading your bio and Twitter feed! You have a lot going on! How do you manage to
balance all the aspects of your life?
JULIE: I’ve always been the kind of person who
functions best with a very full plate. Honestly, I probably don’t get as much
sleep as I need, I might not get to the gym ever, and I work late into the night.
But that all works for me. I made the choice to lead this life and I’m loving
it. I keep things in perspective and don’t get too worried about a messy house
or having to serve up hot dogs for dinner. I’m also not afraid to ask for help.
It takes a village, and I have a wonderful village.
Tina: You have one son on the autism spectrum. I
hear concerns often about the siblings. I know from personal experience how
taxing handling the care of a child with ASD can be. How do you ensure that
child has all he needs, and while making sure the others feel cared for and
like they are getting as much of you as they need?
JULIE: There are amazing programs in place for
siblings of children with autism. They can find other kids who are going through
what they go through and find support there. I actually find that having lots
of children has made us push our child with autism even more.
We have family
expectations and he needs to live up to them. All kids have to clear their
dinner plates, and he is no exception. My son’s sisters were very much a part
of his early therapy programs, participating in groups and doubles sessions
with him. All of the children are important in our family, and get the time
they need when they need it. My son’s siblings are so very proud of him and
can’t imagine our family without him. In addition, I should add that I think
parents probably pay a little too much attention to their kids. I am absolutely
fine with children entertaining themselves and relying on each other for some
Tina: You obviously have a lot going on at
home, so what propelled you to take on all that you’re doing now?
JULIE: I actually started my business when my son
was diagnosed. I knew the traditional work force would no longer suit our
family, so I launched Mabel’s Labels soon after his diagnosis.
Tina: You have a demanding schedule, and so does your husband who travels a lot. How do you protect your marriage in the midst of everything you’re managing?
JULIE: I know couples swear by their “date night.” Six kids usually requires two babysitters. The cost of two babysitters along with the cost of the date itself just isn’t always financially feasible. We do make sure to carve out time as a couple, though because we know how important that is. We stick to a pretty strict routine and make sure our kids go to bed at a reasonable time. Once the kids are down, a bottle of wine and chatting on the couch is date enough for us, and just as enjoyable. And much easier on the bank account! The point is the time together.
Tina: One of my
friends told me she knew when we found out my son had autism, that I would
“rise.” What makes you “rise” and what keeps you up?
JULIE: When my son was diagnosed, I had five minutes
of denial, one day of complete grief, then it was like a call to action. I got down to work to do what needed to be done for my boy!
Mama Bear comes out and you do rise – we all rise to the needs of our children,
there is no better motivation in life!
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