So here I am, a real life Cinderella. Princess Ivana Maria Pignatelli Aragona Cortes. I came from modest means. Becoming a princess was the last thing on my mind as I applied for a scholarship at Pepperdine (which I got), and which is where I met my husband, Prince Adriano, heir to a thousand-year lineage that includes Kings of Sicily and Spain, Catherine of Aragon, a pope and a bona fide saint.
Sometimes fairy tales do come true. We’ve been married twelve years and have two amazing children. I have a Masters in Education, and work as a digital strategy consultant for multimillion dollar projects. I am a hands-on working mom, and choose to be so. I love being a mother and I love my career.
When I was a kid growing up in Spain, my brother, sister and I used to write and perform skits. It was during the days of the Rambo movies. We created a character called Ramba, Super Mom. Ramba could do a thousand things at once – ironing a ceiling-high stack of clothes while making dinner, changing diapers, super shopping (3,000 items on her list) and all with a sparkling clean house. She was drying tears and singing an opera, dancing through her thousands of chores – and she might as well have been wearing a crown and maybe some glass slippers, too, for how much we loved that fairy tale of Ramba, Super Mom!
Now I’m a mom and have updated my version of Ramba. My thousand things include high level negotiations with a toddler at home and executives at work. And don’t I know about the great divide, when I sometimes want to burp my boss and take notes from my newborn! I call it the Super Mom Shuffle. We all know that dance, don’t we?
Can we really have it all? What does it even mean these days?
Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He also said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
So I’m working on giving my kids confidence, and teaching them to dream big like my parents taught me. For my newborn, Sienna, teaching her confidence means being there when she cries, or hopefully before she cries by reading her body language – the way she puckers or roots, the way her hands flail the air, her feet pumping like she’s on a bike.
All of life is about communication and paying attention to the signals – whether they are your child’s, or your own needs which so often get lost in the Super Mom Shuffle. My mother had an opera she sang when she was about to explode — Opera of the Mad Housewife, she jokingly called it. The lyrics varied from situation to situation, and rather than curse (which she sometimes did), she mostly sang. Sang her heart out, all her frustrations, sang them into some wild sound coming from her throat, the words often rhymed and all my friends agreed, she had a great voice.
So let’s break the paralyzing myth of motherly perfection by singing our own songs — whatever they may be. We get to write the music and lyrics, and even do our own dance. Let’s not forget that!
I love kids and learning, and we all know kids are the best teachers around. My 2-year- old son, Alessio, is learning the meaning of “happy.” He knows what it is, though he can’t speak a full sentence. He looks at his sister laughing and says, Happy. He looks at our family standing together in front of the mirror and says, Happy.
What does it mean to have it all? This, I think. This moment in front of the mirror.
So yes, I’m a real princess and I could choose to have a slew of nannies, to raise my children by remote control, but I’d be missing one of the most magical parts of my life.
At every dinner party I host, I like to pose questions that get people to open up and think outside of their norm.
Let’s think outside our normal super mom routines. So, when you were a kid what did you love to dream about? What do you dream about now?
I’m so excited to get to know you. I hope to hear from you. Let’s dream together.
Illustration by Rima Hawkes Graphic Design