At Bellē Up, we understand and appreciate that being a mom is the hardest, yet least recognized, job ever. Yes, we said, EVER! We created Mom of the Week (MOTW) as a way of recognizing moms who do the hardest job ever and then some. It is our honor to present you our Mom of the Week … HOLLY SIMON!
Though I introduce her here, this is a mom who clearly needs no introductions. If you've ever been in a room with Holly, you know exactly what I mean. Holly has more energy than any can of Red Bull or bottle of 5 Hour Energy could ever hold ... combined. And, get her on a subject that she's passionate about—which is anything having to do with children being misjudged or mistreated—and that energy quickly turns into a kind of infectious hurricane of resolve to make the world a better place ... one person at a time. Holly is a force to be reckoned with. She is no holds barred, and I'm pretty sure that she's the kind of person to whom you shouldn't pose the question if you don't really want to know the answer! (Yes, you've been warned.) If we were judged by our children, however, this is where Holly moves from being merely impressive to being a total Rock Star Mom. Not only do her children adore her, but they adore (and celebrate) each other. And the family rallies around Holly's youngest son, Nathaniel (who happens to be one of the cutest, spunkiest nine-year-olds ever) breathing its zest for life into every part of his being so that the world's disabilities do not define his capabilities. It's clear that the mantra "I Am Who I Am" (i.e., the moniker of the new nonprofit organization that Holly heads) was born and bred in Holly's own home long before she founded the organization. As a mom who just birthed a child with special needs, imagine if instead of being greeted (by medical professionals, family and friends alike) with long faces, apologies and even sympathies, you were greeted with smiles, congratulations and celebration (I mean, you did just usher a new life into the world, right?). That is what I Am Who I Am is about (see I Am Who I Am "Congratulations" baby blanket now being delivered to special needs babies born at two local hospitals, left). I have no doubt that Holly will not rest until differently-abled children are celebrated—from birth—as the gifts that they are intended to be. We could all stand to take a page or two from Holly's book, the sum of which is this: live life, reach your potential, but, above all things and at all times, just be You. ~Jamenda, Owner of Bellē Up
Q&A with Holly
Name: Holly Simon
Hometown: Oak Park
Current Town/Neighborhood: Beverly
Age: In my mind? 24
Names & Ages of Your Children: Lindsey 18, Nick 16, Luke 14, Ben 12, Nathaniel 9.
Family: Our family is a pretty normal dysfunctional family. It’s full of lots of laughs, hard work and loads of love. My husband is a Sergeant right here in our neighborhood. My kids amaze me daily and exceed my expectations all the time. Just when I think I am going to burst with pride and love they bring me to an even higher level.
Career: I began as a hairstylist 30 years ago. I was fortunate enough to work for L’Oreal and travel the country teaching hair color. I am still a stylist, a handmade handbag designer and the Executive Director of a not for profit ‘I Am Who I Am’.
Cause and/or organization that is most important to you and why: Nine years ago, the greatest thing happened to my family. My youngest son was born with Down syndrome. Unfortunately at birth all the doctors and nurses could muster up was an "I’m sorry." My cause would be to erase the "sorries". Erase them every single moment of the day. Nathaniel is not only a magical gift to us, but to our community as well. I started the I Am Who I Am campaign to celebrate all children that are different. To shed light that these special kids are more alike than different. Celebrating acceptance through awareness has become my passion. It’s not a talk or a lecture; it’s a way of life. I am a huge believer that things are meant for a reason. Natie has come to be known as ''the mayor' of Beverly. He can begin his mission of acceptance right here in Beverly. I am so friggin' lucky to get to be by his side as he changes the world. One hello at a time. One genuine smile or hug can change the life of so many. It’s a gift that we are all so blessed with.
Hobbies: Painting, writing (www.glitterontheside.blogspot.com), dreaming, shopping, sewing, traveling and exploring.
Hidden Talents: Uh oh….hidden? I’m pretty extroverted- nothing hidden!
Favorite family activities: Just being all together. It’s the simple things I love the most. Like when we are all together watching a movie. Or laughing about our day. We all enjoy going out to eat and perusing flea markets. Probably our favorite thing to do is watch Nathaniel as he entertains us for hours. Usually with Saturday night live skits!
My favorite part about pregnancy was the miracle that was inside.…(I loved every single moment!)
My least favorite part about pregnancy was the clothing options. It was really bad back in the day!
When I was pregnant, I wish I had known to take a breath, relax, and slow down. Enjoy. Because as you are thinking and worrying…the moment has gone.
I would tell a new mom the following three things:
(a) This too shall pass;
(b) Be careful what you wish for; and
(c) It is what it is (enjoy more, complain less).
When I became a mom, I was surprised to learn that I was damn good at it!
When I hear the term “Work/Life Balance” I know that everyone’s ‘balance’ is different. Do not follow the road of the neighbors. Strive to find the balance that works for you and only you.
The most important thing my mom taught me about parenthood was "to accept." If I were to complain about my lack of sleep or the dirty laundry, she once said to "accept that it is what it is, the day you realize that this is your path is the day you will find peace." Amazing how I still go back to those words.
Eighteen years ago my parenting style [was probably] best described as a neurotic mom. Now, I am definitely more laid back and open minded. I do not judge them until I hear the story and I give them a lot of space. I have been told that I am a ‘cool’ mom by my kid’s friends. I know that fun only lasts so long until life gets in the way. I want my kids to have a childhood full of laughter, great memories and Technicolor moments. Their journey is theirs, I am only able to guide them….
The most incredible part of parenthood is that they grow up and into your friends.
The most difficult part of parenthood is spending so much time developing [your kids'] wings … BUT then letting them fly.
The funniest part of parenthood is that actually, I have no clue what I am doing. But somehow it has all worked out.
My greatest hope for my children is to be happy, to love deeply and loved back even deeper. To give to others and to soar to great heights. To be kind, generous and understanding. True richness comes from within. Happiness is a choice.
My mom is my inspiration as a mom, because through her guidance and standards I have learned how to be the woman I have always wanted to be. A woman just like her.
I try to set aside at least one hour per day as “me time”. I spend this time hah- usually napping or watching awful TV. The more ridiculous the show, the better. I let my mind go and don't ‘think’.
To nominate a Mom of the Week, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.