It Takes a Village: Finding Support to Keep Telling

I never thought I’d find a job I loved as much as being a storyteller . . . then I became a mom. Twice-over! Alejandro joined our family at the end of February and quickly became adored by his big brother, Rafael, and of course his doting parents. He’s an easy-going baby who is always smiling. At 4 months old, he is finding his voice, and while it’s still too early to tell, it seems we may have another storyteller in the family.

There’s so much I could share about what has happened for me over the past few months, both personally and professionally. But today I want to focus on gratitude – particularly the gratitude I feel toward all those who have shown me understanding and support as I added the title ‘mom’ to my resume. I am forever grateful to many of you who have gone above and beyond to allow me to continue my work as a storyteller all the while fulfilling my role as ‘mom.’ Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Six weeks after Alejandro’s birth, I was slated to teach a workshop about tableaux at the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth at Kent State University. It would be my second year presenting, and I was looking forward not only to my workshop but also to attending some of the sessions. I’d planned to leave my baby with Grandma or have her join me at Kent that day, but it turned out she had to go out of town. With Alejandro still so young and not taking a bottle very well, I was starting to stress out. What was I going to do?

Then my mom suggested I ask my friend Jeff. Jeff was my parent’s friend first, but after training for three half-marathons together, we became great friends. In fact, Jeff was listening to my stories on our long runs back in the days when I was just getting World of Difference off the ground. Despite the fact that Jeff didn’t have a lot of experiences with babies, he agreed to meet me at Kent State and watch Alejandro during my workshop. Phew! I breathed a sigh of relief!

Then, since I’d hoped to attend some of the conference sessions, I sent an email to the conference organizers asking if it would be alright if I brought my son along to the other portions of the conference. I’ll admit, I was rather embarrassed even asking. But I received an almost immediate reply: “YES!”

As I pushed Alejandro into the ballroom that first night, I was feeling very self-conscious. I was the only one there with a stroller (or a baby!). Maybe I didn’t belong. Perhaps I should’ve stayed home. But one of the co-chairs walked right up to me and told me how glad she was that BOTH of us were there. She shared that she had taken her babies along with her on many occasions when they were young. She even offered to hold Alejandro or wear him in my sling during my workshop! She probably has no idea what a gift that was to me and how much she set my mind at ease. Alejandro proved to be an excellent conference participant, sleeping throughout my presentation (as Jeff strolled him around the library!) and allowing me to enjoy many other sessions at the conference.

They say that it takes a village to raise a child – and they are right. It also takes a village to support a working mom – and I am so grateful for my village.

[Pictured above with writer friend, Kathy Halsey (one of my biggest encouragers!), and Alejandro at the Virginia Hamilton Conference.]

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