Any new moms out there looking for encouragement and support? Today is your lucky day!
I have interviewed many people for my "Profiles of Perseverance" series about how they persevere through many types of obstacles. However, I had until now, not asked a young mom to share her thoughts. When thinking of who to interview – I knew just the person to ask. Carla Bourada is a 29-year-old-stay-at -home mom of three children with one more on the way! Her children are so adorable! I have known Carla since elementary school and we used to live in the same neighbourhood. I really respect her and think she is a wonderful woman and mom. Thanks, Carla, for sharing with us the lessons you have learned throughout your twenties! You Rock!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?
Carla Bourada: Let me start off by answering this question with a little insight to the beginning of my life with children. Brandon, (my partner), and I were in our early 20's when we were shocked to find out we were expecting. We were not ready for children - both of us having JUST graduated from post-secondary education. We didn't have careers, we didn't live together, and we were still learning a lot about each other. When we found out we were expecting, everything came crashing down on us. Suddenly, we were forced to grow up and to quickly make a decision that would forever change our lives. Unfortunately, we had to ask ourselves 'Do we keep this baby?' Luckily, we both have very supportive parents who were able to help us with this decision. It was my dad that ultimately helped us decide to continue with the pregnancy. He said "It's when you have children that you work your hardest. You have no choice. This baby will not keep you from succeeding - it will force you to succeed." He was right! But aren't dads always right? :)
How important is mentorship in terms of your success?
Carla Bourada: Very important! I feel very blessed to have my parents to look up to. They are a shining example of successful parents in every way – they have taught me the importance of being a great mother, being healthy, to set goals, and to be career- driven. They own two businesses, have five children (two of whom were adopted from Asia), and are both in tip top shape because they still somehow manage to find time to exercise daily and eat well. If I didn't have them to help keep me grounded, I honestly don't know what I would do.
What has been the best moment(s) in your life so far?
Carla Bourada: The birth of my three children! I think every mother says that but they say that because it's true. It is such a life changing moment. Also, getting those positive pregnancy tests are just as good.
What tips would you have for living a healthy life?
Carla Bourada: Well, this is an area that I honestly struggle with. I'm currently 14 weeks pregnant with our fourth child in less than five years. I have found it difficult keeping up with a regular exercise program because I've been either pregnant or post-partum for five years now! I honestly believe that just being busy with the kids in general is what keeps me going. We walk, we go to the park, and well - I chase after kids all day! I don't have much time to sit. I'm on my feet all day.
In terms of food, we don't eat much meat at all. I use a lot of veggie-ground 'meats' in my chilis and pastas. I also believe in moderation; I do treat myself. I treat my kids. We eat chips and chocolate. But we also eat LOTS of fruits and veggies. Basically, as long as I know my family and I have been busy all day - then I don't obsess TOO much about what goes in everyone's mouths.
That being said, I can't wait until this pregnancy is done because, knowing it's our last - I'll finally be able to try and shed the baby weight and be the healthiest mom I can be.
How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?
Carla Bourada: Oh gosh. I have setbacks ALL THE TIME. It truly is very difficult being a young mom. Yes, it does have perks being a 29-year-old mom of almost 4 kids - the biggest being that it just feels good knowing I'll be able to keep up with my kids for a very long time. However, I miss out on a lot. I had children before any of my friends did. Having kids immediately isolated me from them and my social scene in general. One of my best friends just got married in Vancouver, and I couldn't go. Trying to maintain a friendship with people who don't have kids is REALLY hard. For both sides. It's hard for me to take the time to make a phone call to keep in touch. It's hard for them to understand that; why it's difficult for me to make a phone call. For me, these are setbacks. I try so hard to not just be a 'mom'... but when I can't make it to a dinner, or a wedding, or when friendships seem to fall apart - it's really hard to deal with. I just have to remind myself to try hard to take the time to write an email, to make a phone call, and to plan an evening to catch up with a friend. Because I know when I do that, it makes me happy.
What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
Carla Bourada: Well, I think the biggest setback of my life was also the best thing that happened to me. The news of my first pregnancy, at the time, felt like the biggest setback of life. But it turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to both me and Brandon. I look at my children now and couldn't imagine life without them. News of an unplanned pregnancy is a shock to anyone. However, I firmly believe that deciding to continue with our first pregnancy really made us look at life differently. Sometimes, you can't 'plan' life. Life just happens!
How do you deal with critics?
Carla Bourada: With all of the supporters we have, I know we also have critics. We know there are a lot of people who think we are insane for having 4 kids in such a short amount of time. But I just need to shrug it off and remember that it's my life, not theirs!
How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?
Carla Bourada: Brandon and I find that the most important support is the support from each other. Sure it's great to have our family and friends for support, but in the end, it's Brandon and I who are the ones raising these children. We find ourselves constantly reminding each other that this stage in our children's lives isn't going to last forever. Raising babies and toddlers is such hard work. It's demanding, both physically and emotionally. We need to take breaks, and do things for ourselves away from the kids. We need date nights. But, we also need time alone. Brandon plays hockey a couple of times a week. For me, it's not as easy to find time away. Brandon actually said to me today, "You need to get away from me and the kids and recoup." In order for us to be the best parents we can be, and to be the best partners to each other, we need to step away from time to time and do something for ourselves. Supporting each other through this part of our lives is critical in maintaining a good relationship and being great parents.
What advice would you give others about goal setting?
Carla Bourada: Planning a family can be a scary thing. I know of quite a few people right now who want children in the near future but are too scared to start trying. I also know of a lot of people who have put their family lives on hold for their careers and are planning to start trying in their early 30's. My advice to all these people is to relax. I think when you put too much emphasis on waiting for the 'best time' to have a family, you may set yourself up for disappointment. Sometimes, it takes a long time to conceive. Sometimes people find out they can't conceive. And sometimes there are no problems. But I just think more people need to realize that life will work itself out one way or another. You can plan all you want, but a lot of the time life goes a different way. And that's okay.
What is a life lesson you wish you had learned before graduating high school?
Carla Bourada: I don't know if I can think of any. I think had I learned specific life lessons, I may have been too afraid to continue the first pregnancy. I think it's good to be a little naive - you're more likely to experience things you otherwise might not have.
Thanks Carla, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your thoughts and advice with us! You really inspire me! When I become a mom, I know where to ask for help. :)
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!