Both of my parents were born and raised in Birmingham, meeting at Ensley High School and marrying at Ensley Highlands UMC. When I was a child, we lived all over the place, but a highlight of every summer was returning to Birmingham to spend time with grandparents and my favorite aunt. My siblings and I would stay at Grand Stu’s and Aunt Carroll’s house in Homewood; trips to Baskin Robbins in Mountain Brook Village and the McDonald’s on Montclair Road (oh, that playground!) were highlights. For part of our stay, we’d travel ‘cross town to my maternal grandparents’ apartment in West End and swim all day, fortified afterward by Grandmother’s butter cookies and vanilla ice cream. Those summer trips, along with my parents’ happy recounting of growing up in the area, helped foster my affinity for the city.
Fast forward to college: I made the decision to attend Birmingham-Southern, where I met my future husband. He found a job here after college, and so did I, so we put down roots and have never left. Fun fact: he proposed after a showing of “Casablanca” at the Alabama — how much more “Birmingham” can you get?
We settled in Hoover and our kids went through Gwin, Simmons, and Hoover High. I love the experiences they had there, with kids from all backgrounds and excellent teachers at every level. Hoover is a big town with a small town feel, and it’s perfectly situated to be close to all of the restaurants, sports, and cultural opportunities Birmingham proper has to offer.
I am mom to Caroline, a 24-year-old married middle school teacher, and Charlie, a 20-year-old junior at Mississippi State University, both born right here at St. Vincent’s. Writing their ages, and stages in life, makes me flash back to sitting in the nursery, rocking one or the other of them and wondering if I was ever going to be able to sleep again. And the answer is “yes,” for all you new moms, you will sleep again. (Until they drive. But that’s another post.)
I have loved every season of their growing up: the sweet baby days that drag on . . . but fly by, that particular “baby” smell and their head on my shoulder; toddling around at the park, eating cookies off the ground before I could stop them (they’re fine); preschool attitude adjustments and learning to socialize; elementary days of gymnastics lessons, baseball practice, spelling tests, living in the car, reading to them at night; swimming all day, every day in the summer and ordering pizza to be delivered to the pool at 5:00 p.m. because — oops! — my mom BFF and I hadn’t made plans for dinner.
I loved middle school — really, yes, I did — as they grew into more and more of the fantastic adults they would become, learning hard lessons but growing through them at the same time. And then high school — oh, high school! — driving and prom and “to AP or not AP,” making the team/not making the team, and broadening horizons by meeting friends from other schools, while watching them struggle as some friends drifted away, making other choices and friends.
Being a contributor for BMC is thrilling to me. I love being included as an older mom, because I have walked the roads many younger moms have traveled and want them all to know how rich each season of parenting is. I might even have a sliver or two of advice! Looking back, I realize that it is so important to be mindful with your parenting, to stop amidst the busy-ness, even for a minute here and there, to enjoy your children for who they are.
Parenting adults (and 20-year-olds who think they are adults) is great fun — raising your kids to be people you actually like is gratifying! I want younger moms to know there is much to look forward to. I suppose there is a tension in being mindful and looking forward, but navigating that tension can really help through the difficulties moms encounter.
In addition, I taught elementary school for 28 years, so I have a unique perspective on the relationship between parenting and learning. I am passionate about the importance of the role parents play in their child’s education and hope to share some of that collected knowledge with actionable tips to help other parents navigate the ups and downs of learning.
Most of all, moms of every age are in this together, and I hope my contributions reflect that sensibility!