I remember my first day of high school. I was so nervous it was the first time that I was leaving my comfort zone of my neighborhood and venturing almost a half hour away to a whole new school, new people, would I fit in, would people like me. I always had a feeling of not fitting in, while I was in Jr. high that I told myself that high school was going to be different, I was going to leave my mark. Well someone where between my plan of making a mark and the damn MTA system, I was a few minutes late to home room. I was apparently not there when the homeroom teacher assigned seats so as the teacher had her back to the class writing something on the board, I went and found a seat all the way to the back of the classroom, waiting for my moment to go up and tell the teacher that I was present. Well before I could even fix myself in my seat this person that was sitting in front of me, turns around and says( kind of with an attitude if I remember correctly), "umm, the teacher assigned seats so you may want to ask where you sit" or something across those lines and I looked at this person and said "oh yeah well I will wait till she turns around to ask". After that clever banter and after homeroom was finished we introduced ourselves saw that we were in some classes together and those formed the greatest friendship a woman can ask for. I had found my "Gayle" my "Romi", I had found Danielle Harrison my friend of almost 20 years. Through the years we have laughed, we have cried, we have shared too many moments together but the moments I have loved the most is the moments we have shared as women, and as mothers. Moments like me calling her crying that Layla won't stop crying and her coming right away with some gripe water for us to try to come her down! These moments are the true meaning of friendship, moments when you are at your worst and your friend can turn to you and say "Girl you look crazy, but I still love ya!", those moments right there are the reason why she is my "rocking chair friend"! So I present to the world my "Gayle" Miss Danielle Harrison for this weeks MOMMY SPOTLIGHT:
My name is Danielle Harrison I am a 32 year old college graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree with a specialization in Health Services management. I am an Office Manager (slash Executive Assistant/ IT/ Baby Sitter/ whatever they decide for the day major eye roll) at The Spine Institute of New York, as well as an active full time mom for a very busy 8 year. I also have to split my time and energy with my very support boyfriend of 3 years.
Modern Mom: Did you always know you wanted children?
Danielle: Yes, I always wanted children (preferable a boy) but I was blessed with my little lady and I emphasize lady! It was never a question of wanting children; it was a question of when. I can remember my daughter's father constantly talking about children but I knew that I would not have a child until I was capable of taking care of a child by myself. Call me psychic but I kind of knew that being a parent was going to be a one woman show for me and I was OK with that as long as I was prepared.
MM: Describe your daughter in Five words?
Danielle: She is a Busy, Funny, Independent, Intelligent, Socialite (my daughter's calendar is fuller than mine).
MM: You are an accomplished educated woman how did you find the balance between your education, career and raising your daughter?
Danielle: Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish half of what I have without the help of my family and friends, multi-tasking and honestly just plain old luck. My family and friends are always there for me whenever I need them, as well as my life being a complete juggling act. Being a single mother, you have to know how to plan an set schedules, otherwise for lack of a better term "you're screwed". You have to be able to think out of the box and not only have a plan B but also C, D, and E. Most importantly we have to understand that sometimes everything can't be done all in one day. If you were only able to get to item 10 on your list instead of to item 15, don't beat yourself up, there's always tomorrow.
MM: How did you handle raising her on your own?
Danielle: I think I'm doing pretty well for myself; my daughter is a well adjusted, helpful, happy and smart kid. I took it not as a burden but as a blessing, she is my little lady and she is who she is because of me. I made sure that she was always kept busy in some type of activity. She has had: Tap, Ballet, Golf, Jujitsu,Yoga, Swimming, and Zumba classes/lessons. Most importantly I make sure that I also get some me time. Every year my daughter goes to a relative for the summer. She usually goes to my mother in Georgia for a month or two, and this year she's going to Jamaica. At first I missed my child dearly and I also wondered how it would look sending my child away for the summer. But when I saw that she enjoyed it more then I did, then I was sold. We as parents also need that mental break. As much as I missed her, I must admit it is nice not to hear the word "mom" 100 times before I finally close my eyes. That break has been a god sent.
MM:Know you personally, I know you have a wonderful family, how did they help you in achieving your goals and raising your daughter?
Danielle: From the beginning my family has played a big role in helping me raise my daughter. When I had to return to work after maternity, my grandmother watched her until she moved to Georgia. By her watching my daughter I was able to not have to rush home form work and allowed me the time to show my boss what I had to offer, as well as allowing me to take a few extra classes for school. After my grandmother, one of my cousins, who is a stay-at-home mom offered tow watch her. Then when it came time for Mia to start school, my aunt would walk her there so that I can get to work by 8am. With my daughter it has always been a collaborative effort between my family and I. Plus, whenever I needed a babysitter I always had a willing taker. However, I do know not to take advantage of my giving family. There are plenty of times that I have to pass on certain things because I don't want to overwhelm my family.
MM: How was it starting over and getting a second change at love?
Danielle: Honestly, it has been refreshing. At first I was very skeptical. I told my now boyfriend of three years right off the bat that if my daughter didn't like him, he was done. Not that I was going to let a then five year old Mia dictate my love life but if she was not happy there would be no way I would be either. Its' great to have that balance of mom and girlfriend. It took some time for me to get use to the whole dating scene again, but once I was in I was hooked!
MM: How does your daughter feel about your new found love?
Danielle: They pretty much hit it off right away. I waited about a month and a half before I introduced them. Some of my friend said it was too soon but my thin was I didn't want to get wrapped up in a relationship that my daughter was not OK with. I remember being so nervous the first day they met. My boyfriend was so cool; he had this whole elaborate plan to win her over. He picked us up and on her seat there was a portable DVD player with the newest Hannah Montana DVD already for her to watch. I loved the fact that he took the time to find out what she liked and my daughter was impressed. He took her to New Rock City FunZone and later we were off to Applebee's (and anyone who knows my daughter the fastest way to her heart is through her stomach) From that day on she was sold!
MM: Did you ever worry that they would not get along?
Danielle: OH of course, I had my fingers crossed. I knew this man was a catch and I wanted everything to work out. I know some people are like who cares if the child likes your significant other or not? Well I did! I never forced them on each other. As time past he would ask to speak to her and she would randomly ask to speak to him. Once I saw that they had a little re pore going on, I knew it was OK for them to meet. Don't get me wrong my child is still a child and when people ask when am I getting married she says "never", but that I can ignore. She's still only 8 years old and a child who can't really see her mommy with anyone else but her dad.
MM: Whatt is the one thing you love most and dislike most about motherhood?
Danielle: The thing I love the most about being a mom is when you look into your child's eyes and you see that look like you're the best. To know that I am responsible for another life can both be; fulfilling and also scary at the same time. Which leads to what I like the least, which is to know that your work is never done. At least when you leave work you know that you're done until the next morning. Not motherhood, that is a never ending story, always on call job that there is no escaping and you just have to take the good with the bad.
MM: With all that you have accomplished do you have any advice to other mothers or parents out there about accomplishing there goals?
Danielle: Just know that Rome was not built in a day and neither can your life. You have to know that somethings may have to take a back burner but not all. You have to find that happy medium and make everything count. I know that everyone doesn't have the type of family support that I do, but I know that with or without them I would have found a way to make it work. Achieving goals is all about checks and balances and organization. We have to remember that you are not going to accomplish everything on your time. It maybe later then you wanted it to happen but it will happen.
Its very true what Danielle says, about check and balances, she has been telling me that for years. We as mothers, as parents have to also set goals for ourselves. Our lives don't stop because we became parents it just have been altered. We may have to somewhat take our goals and adjust them and realize they can be achieved but it may take more time than we thought and that is fine! Knowing when things can, and how they need to be done is a lesson I am still trying to figure out at times like many of you out there I get overwhelmed by what needs to be done and what I want to do! Friends like Danielle are what snap me back and make me realize that yes I can do it!