With love for our moms Gina, Rita, Isabel, Teodora and Teresa on Mother’s Day!

By: Grecia Romero and María Alejandra Pulgar

All mothers can be taken sometimes as superheroes. Regardless of their qualifications or their occupation, the simple fact that they agreed on having a person (or more than one) growing inside for 9 months, risking their lives in the process, makes them unbelievable creatures, capable of immeasurable amounts of generosity and unconditional love.

How can they do it? How do they go through life knowing there is a piece of their own flesh and blood living forever separated from them? Do mothers have special powers or strengths that distinguish them from other human beings?  Strengths, according to Seligman, are features that arise in different situations over time, are valued in their own right and their consequences are positive; strengths are the characteristics of a person who help her develop life virtues like wisdom, courage, love, humanity, justice, temperance, and spirituality.

We chose 7 mothers of our community, each with an inspiring personal story, to explain that characteristic, that strength, that power, which makes them embrace motherhood with joy, in an exemplary manner and not perishing in the attempt. For all Doral mothers on Mother’s day, we share with you the powers of “Supermoms.”

Brenda Andere: The Power of Faith

She is a nice, sweet and generous woman. Always smiling and in good spirits, this brave Mexican, mother of 8 children, tells us that her greatest strength lies in her “Faith in God. It is what drives me forward; otherwise I could not do all that I do. From there I take my strength and the ability to discern the hierarchy of things I have to do. My confidence and support come from God. Without Him nothing is possible.”

Brenda never thought she would have that many children, although she always wanted a big family. She has 5 girls (Brenda Lucía, Fátima, María, Paola and the newborn Victoria) and 3 boys (Jose Pablo, Juan Esteban y Bruno). It is impossible to get bored in a house with so many people! “The good thing about being a mom of that many kids is that you always have something to do and to think about. You always feel useful and busy, someone always needs you. “Perhaps looking back, Brenda thinks she may have missed the chance of teaching more things or focusing on certain activities at certain ages, but with so many different characters and personalities “rewards multiply and there are always more joys than sorrows. You always win.”

What Brenda likes best about being a mom is being able to laugh with them. “They laugh at me, I laugh at them and then we all laugh together. I have fun with them. Sometimes I sit back, look at them and say “My God, they are so cute, smart and handsome, every single one of them! They always make me happy with their ideas and jokes. “

Alejandra Moreno:  The Power of Inspiration and Passion.

Persistent, passionate and inspiring are three characteristics that describe Alejandra Moreno. Her enthusiasm helps her putting all her heart on what she does, being a living example to all who get to know her.  Alejandra and her family moved to Miami in August 1998, and have lived in Doral for almost 14 years. She works full time as Director of Outsourcing Services in a consulting firm, by this experience she says: “’It is sometimes difficult to have a full time job and also be a wife and a mom; balancing work while raising young children is definitely a difficult challenge. The key is to be organized, delegate and have the support from your partner”. Alejandra and her family consider themselves as a “Scout” family, who enjoy nature, going camping and sleeping in a tent about 5 or 6 times a year.

For Alejandra being a mom is “loving our children unconditionally, but also guiding and correcting them on the way. Keeping open channels of communication and trust at all times, but also setting clear limits and teaching by example”.  Proudly, she and her husband Julio, have two children, Cristina and Alejandro, who are almost grown-ups. They both have been successful students from the Miami-Dade County public school system. Tina is graduating in architecture at UF, and Alejandro is in Senior High at Ronald Reagan / Doral High School, and will study political science in Boston. Both have received many academic awards, devoted many hours to volunteer services and are very involved with the community church and the Scout movement with their parents.

For Alejandra one of the most important success factor is “keeping children busy without leaving aside the necessary parental involvement in children’s lives. Parents need to participate in school events, getting to know your children’s friends and teachers, maintaining open multiple communication channels without fearing to apply necessary corrections on your kids when needed, and giving them the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. Every experience in life, good or bad, will leave you a lesson, we as parents need to help them identify the learning point from it”.   Although being considered strict (“Cruella de Vil” – as her children fondly called her), she and her husband are always looking for quality time together to talk as a family about everyday situations and how to deal with them. Family dinner, teaching a strong foundation in faith and praying together, are very important practices for them.

Alejandra’s belief is that “the best education comes from enjoying every moment in life. Make friends along the journey, life is too short and we do not always have the opportunity to correct what we did wrong. Sing with your heart, be thankful and not be afraid to ask for help. Be sincere and pursue your dreams”.

Maria Paula Gasparotti: The Power of Organization

“I do what I can, I’m not a super mom,” says this Argentinian from Rosario, with her cheerful accent, her constant smile and her curious look. Graduated in Accounting, her life plan was always to have a family. “It is my responsibility and my duty, in addition to my desire. I’d leave everything for my children to have a normal family. I said I would keep the title in a drawer if they needed me and that is exactly what has happened “.

Leading an orderly and quiet life in Doral provides tranquility and happiness to her, because she feels that discipline, respect, commitment, order and structure are very important. The agenda is her inseparable companion. It allows her to organize and coordinate the schedules for all 4 members of her family. Any sudden change of plans would generate a lot of stress, so she always does her best to anticipate and control all variables that may affect her plan. Despite having so little spare time, Maria Paula is always willing to help; she is an unconditional and constant friend who has earned the sincere appreciation of all who know her.

She and her husband always wanted to have more than one child, because they have siblings and feel it is very important. “We had one son, it seemed we were not going to have more, but we kept trying.” Finally, Angela came along 10 years after Francisco, and quickly joined the structured family routine. One of the things that Maria Paula enjoys most about being a mom is seeing the relationship between her children, “despite the age difference they fight but they love each other. They share a lot together. I thought they would not be close until adulthood, but they are now. I tell him that she will be the one to look after him when he is old, and they both laugh.” As a mom, she also enjoys spending exclusive time with each one when picking them up from school. Those are minutes she treasures, as well as the family dinner, where the 4 of them chat together and share the events on their day.

For her, a nice thing about being a mom is “just having them; your children will always be there for you. Near or far, they are always going to support and care about you. The responsibility of being a mom is great, but I do not consider it a disadvantage; it is part of what I have to do. Perhaps the only downside is that you give up on yourself and, as they grow up, you have to realize that you need to find an activity that fulfills you. I enjoy volunteering because I feel I’m doing something useful, I’m being helpful and making and impact. It makes me feel good; it is like an extension of the role of being a mom. ”  Because for Mary Paula the work of a mom never ends, “When children grow up you have to take other role, step aside and listen. I hope I am able to tell when that time comes. Mothers never cease to exist until their children die. Not a single day goes by without me remembering something my mom use to say, something she did or wrote. I think it is her way of showing that she will always remain with me.”

Ana Contigiani Gospodinoff: The power of hope

Ana is an endless source of inspiration, courage, strength, faith and hope.  In 2008 she was diagnosed with breast cancer metastases in lung, brain and spine. One of her first doctors told her husband Victor to just give her painkillers and get ready for the inevitable. They gave her 40 days to live, but Ana survived! From the beginning she told the doctor “tell me what I have to do to live, because I consider myself a great mother and I intent to continue to do so.” Her optimist attitude towards her recovery has always been the key for her survival.

Born in Italy and raised in Argentina, she moved to Miami in 2002. Happily married since 1995 the Gospodinoffs have three wonderful children; Ana captures the essence of a mother that professes her love for her children, with the smile that only she can give. A life that begins again full of hope and promises. When asked what would be her super power, she laughed and said, “I believe that the superpower is the willingness to succeed, the love for my children that moves mountains. God gave me a second chance; I think it was for a reason. To try to inspire others to accomplish things, overcome difficulties and circumstances of life; to give hope to those going through the same situation I had. “Although the concern of cancer recurrence is latent in her life, that does not prevent her from enjoying every minute, “I have to follow my doctor’s orders, go to my treatments and take my medicine. Being methodical, with faith and hope I can overcome any challenge that might arise in the future”.

 For Ana, the most beautiful part of being a mom is to stay with them, hug them, and kiss them in the mornings. They enjoy being together; having dinner, take walks outdoors. Those moments are priceless. “Every day I give thanks for another day.”

As a mom my mission in life is to finish raising my children well. I want to see them graduate, marry. I want to meet and spoil my grandchildren along with my husband”. On the process of becoming a mother, Ana sees pregnancy as “Something magical, worthy to enjoy it. For me it was magical all 3 times, especially the first, which was a novelty.   Her faith and hope is what has made her overcome the stiffer test she has had in life. Her doctor calls her Miracle Girl: “Yes we can! You have the will to fight or you don’t. You decide, I can tell and explain my experience, but if you do not have the willingness in you, then it is not going to happen. This is not magic. Attitude and willpower have much to do with it”.

Kerrie Schundt: The Power of Curiosity and New Experiences

The idea of being a Supermom makes her laugh, but after giving it some thought, Kerrie concludes that curiosity and desire for learning and discovery are paramount on her life and therefore those might be her superpowers: “The best thing I can give my daughter is experiences.  I take her places all the time. We love to go out, every time we get the chance, to all the places available in Miami where she can have experiences to learn and find out what she likes. It is the best I can give her.”

Native from Wisconsin, Kerrie has been living in Doral for 7 years. She moved here with her husband and daughter when the baby was 2 months old. They love Doral because it is very family oriented, schools are good, the parks are beautiful and there are many children and families.   The experience of living in Egypt teaching English left in Kerrie an indelible mark. She loved living abroad and learning about other cultures. Therefore when she came back to Wisconsin, she could not find enough international feel to satisfy her desire of exploring and learning new things. She got the chance of moving to Miami, the perfect place to find great weather, interesting places to discover and to learn about a wide variety of people and cultures.

When she was a teenager she was told that it might not be possible for her to be a mom because she had scoliosis. However, ‘the clock was ticking’ and she and her husband felt that strong desire of having a child. “It is hard to describe what I felt when I met her, it was like a beautiful dream. We didn’t know she was a girl. We really wanted a girl and it was perfect! We had a natural birth on a birthing center with a midwife and it was a beautiful experience”… “The bad part of being a mom is that I am the disciplinarian, all the time. My husband is the person she has fun with and I am the one on top of having things done. That is not the fun part of the job. The good part is learning from her, everyday seeing the world in her eyes. I forgot that, and doing it all again through her eyes I love to see her perspectives of live and the wonders of it all.”

For Kerrie, the best part of being a mom is “experiencing things together, seeing life now with that little girl’s perspective, teaching her what I know and learning from her. It is what I love from being a mom”.  Her only wish for her daughter’s future is “for her to be happy. That she can be whatever makes her happy. That she can make the decisions to find something that fulfills her. That she is able to live abroad and that she finds a partner she really loves. I wish she can live a fulfilled life!”

Bernice Mirabal:  The Positive Mom.

With “love, humility, charity, patience, perseverance, order and serenity” Bernice Mirabal tells us about her experience as mom. Her gift is to do all things with positivism, and without saying NO before even trying it.   Due to work reallocation, Bernice and her family left their precious Puerto Rico and moved to Miami back in 2005, choosing Doral as their new home where they entirely focused their life, because “Doral has it all” as she says. Bernice works as a Relationship Service Officer and has been the leader of the Doral Girl Scout troop 552 for the past two years. Bernice and Antonio are the proud parents of three daughters, as she tells us: “Marina is in her 2nd year of University in Boston; Angelica studies 6th grade, and Amanda 2nd grade. It is a pride to see how responsible and committed they are, this is shown it their grades”.

In Bernice’s words: “being a mom is what gives meaning to life, a beautiful experience in which children make us complete, filling our life with joy, humor and new challenges”. But being a mother is not so simple, “every mother is a juggler and acrobat. It seems that we do not have time to do all chores, but we surely can. The challenge is to get up every day, thank God for one more day and give the best of ourselves. Our success is to see the daily smile in our children’s faces then everything is worthy”.

The big question: How does she balance being a Scout leader, a working woman, a mother and a wife? “Many people ask me the same question, and I simply raise my shoulders saying, I don’t know. I love to be involved in many activities. I find a balance in my life using an agenda and a schedule. Love is power, and I believe we can do it all”.

Bernice loves her job; she enjoys interacting with clients, helping them solve their problems. Her high sense for helping others moves her to build a legacy of involvement in many community activities. As Girl Scouts head, she has lead a group of about 70 girls helping them develop leadership, social consciousness and self conviction, all in a welcoming and educational environment where they build values, confidence and character. Bernice deeply feels each girl as her own child!  She shares her big secret: “to give attention and affection to our children since we live our lives once. There must be communication, education, integrity, values and most importantly, respect. All these start at home. We have to be parents, not friends of our children. We must be a role-model for them. Getting involved, taking time to meet their friends. Being a mother means to be a doctor, teacher, educator, psychologist, comedian, “cheerleader” and much more”.      Bernice’s example teaches us that life has no limits. Her heart encourages her to continue raising her daughters as Christian good people, helping society, and giving back to the community.

Sandra E. Angulo-Vasquez: The power of  Strength.

Active, fun, loving and spiritual, this is the way we describe Sandra E. Angulo-Vazquez, a psychologist at the University Javeriana in Colombia and a degree in Marketing. Sandra, her husband Bernardo along with her three daughters ages 11, 9 and 7 years-old have been happy residents of Doral for the last 13 years.

Sandra has worked as a Spanish teacher and has written several children books. Currently, her work is oriented to the community, getting involved and being a role-model for her daughters. The fortress has been one of her greatest virtues, as she says, “All moms need strength of spirit and courage to get up every day and meet every task we have in life. We must do it with joy, dedication, wisdom and prudence. We should never get tired of being mothers, because a mother should never surrender”.

She lives this strength by example. She actively demonstrates love in those situations that could seemingly be a challenge. 11 years ago, Sandra became a “special mom” when she welcomed her first daughter, Sofy. As she shares: “Sofy is just as special as any other kid. She has strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I have carefully guided her, loved her, and I demand the same effort from her as I do with my other daughters. The best people I’ve met, the ones with the purest and loveliest hearts have been through her, because she shows to anyone what we usually forget: the privilege to love without any qualification or requirement”.

Sandra and her two other girls, Cami and Silvi; enjoy sharing unique moments of music, art, ballet shows, birthdays, games and even mini-spas. Celebrating with her husband each success, each merit, each milestone and achievement, and sharing with friends who she considered as real sisters. For her, being a mother is the definition of happiness: “I feel grateful to God for my beautiful princesses and I am proud to see what dedication pays off. Although this is a 24×7 job, everything I do it’s done with enthusiasm and love”, she says.

She gives attention to getting involved in social, community and spiritual activities. She considers this as a very important key to develop strength. She definitely lives every word of her own definition of motherhood: “Being mom is everything! It is acting with love, having time to train, nurture, counsel, educate, cooking some “arepitas”, cycling or dancing. It is a gift, a miracle of immense love of always having a space in our mind and our hearts for our children”.  Her final message gives us a great lesson: “Do not fear any challenge, instead persevere, and work hard with your child, set goals and for above all, everything you do … do it with love.”

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