Smart + Stylish Mom Spotlight: You are Your Child's Best Advocate
Today’s smart + stylish mom is Christine Pak, a 33-year old artist, stay-at-home mom and aspiring med school student who lives in the Washington, DC suburbs with her husband and 2-year old daughter, Sophie.
I met Christine and Sophie in a music class that Riley and I attended in the spring of 2014. Sidenote: this was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend Mrs.Sings’s MusicArt in Crofton, MD. I’ll never forget how nervous I was during the first day of class. At 16 months, Riley was the youngest student in a class designed for 18-month to 3-year-olds. I had to get special permission for her to attend and I was on pins and needles the whole time, hoping that the instructor wouldn’t think that she made a mistake by allowing Riley to be in the class. Riley sat stone-faced and watched the class whole time from afar, clinging to me for dear life. She didn’t cry, but she didn’t participate either and I wasn’t sure at that point if I was the one who’d made the mistake by enrolling her in the class.
I’ve always had a difficult time masking my emotions, and I’m guessing that my mommy anxiety was pretty obvious to Christine since she walked right up to me afterwards and voluntarily shared with me what Sophie’s first day was like. I don’t remember the specifics, but I do remember breathing a sigh of relief once she started talking. I felt so much better, not just because Sophie’s first day wasn’t perfect either, but because Christine wasn’t embarrassed to share her imperfect experience with me.
Too often, too many moms pretend that motherhood (and our children) are perfect, when life would be so much easier for all of us if we just admitted that sometimes it’s hard…really hard. And sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not the only one going through whatever challenge you’re facing. Just think about it—if we all shared our lowest points as much as we shared our highest points, motherhood would feel a lot more like a community rather than a competition. Thank you, Christine.
As the weeks went on, Christine and I began to talk more and share more about our lives. I always looked forward to our conversations and finding out how much we have common. Riley started to warm up too, thanks in large part to Sophie’s kind gestures. Sophie was very big on hugging, sharing and helping pass out/collect instruments and Riley learned a lot by watching her. Sophie was quite the little fashionista too, thanks to her very talented stylist, Christine. It wasn’t until we were more than halfway through the class that I learned that Christine was an art major in college, which made total sense to me once I thought about all of the cute combinations that she created for Sophie and how she (Christine) always looked so effortlessly put together herself. Stylish sidenote: Riley and I fell in love with the Kinleigh shoe by Stride Rite (below) thanks to Christine and Sophie!
In our interview, Christine shares how being a mom makes her a better person and talks candidly about discovering (and working through) Sophie's speech delay. She even throws in a few great style tips too!
Riche: What's your favorite part about being a mom?
Christine:I love watching Sophie as she learns, discovers and connects the dots in everyday mundane things, especially when it's unexpected. Those moments make me laugh as I realize she's catching on to concepts and I’m amazed as I remember that she's her own thinking, breathing being. I also appreciate how being a mom forces me to be a better person. I want to set an example for Sophie and how to behave, so I try to be more of everything we should be, i.e., patient, kind, tolerant.
Riche: What's the smartest decision you've made since becoming a mom?
Christine: Becoming a mom and choosing to stay at home with Sophie. I was never really sure whether or not I wanted children and now that Sophie's here, I want more. Having kids is one of the most selfless acts you can do, all those sacrifices you make out of love and hope of providing for your child. And as mentioned earlier, I think being a mom makes me a better person.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do with Sophie?
Christine:Taking her out so she can run, socialize or whatever. Our usual destinations are the mall playground, the swimming pool or just outside while I'm gardening. Sophie loves, loves, loves going outside: she'll fetch her shoes and then throw a fit if we don't go out. She also loves collecting pebbles, picking flowers and playing with any source of water.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do when you have some much-needed alone time?
Christine: Sleep…I know, so boring! Actually, I use my alone time to finish things around the house or browse the web. I've been gardening while the weather cooperates. I'm also busy editing the house right now.
Riche: How would you describe your mommy style (e.g., chic, classic, trendy, etc.)?
Christine: Casual, comfortable and easy.
Riche: What's your secret to being a great mom and looking great too?
Christine: Know when to fight your battles; other mothers have had bad days too. Find clothes that are easy to care for. Know what necklines complement your face and what colors, but don't forget to switch things up. Lately, I've been trying to find prints and patterns that interest me. Machine washable is great.
I try to listen to my instincts about being a mother, whether Sophie needs me to comfort her, or whether I need to let her "ride it out.” I probably coddle her too much and address her needs too quickly, but I'm learning to step back when she's throwing a tantrum so that's she's not unfamiliar with the feelings of frustration and delayed gratification.
Riche: One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about you is your honesty. Can you talk a bit about what it was like discovering (and now working through) Sophie’s speech delay?
Christine: Sophie is now 2 years and 3 months old and she still isn't speaking. She does have her own language but doesn't use pronouns, verbs or connect two words together. Her pediatrician and I have been worried about her lack of speech since she was 12 months of age but I've only now gotten her enrolled in the Infant Toddler Program. We speak a combination of Korean and English at home, and Sophie has a vocabulary of ~7 words, but uses them sparingly.
If you suspect your child has a speech delay or problem, be proactive and seek an evaluation. The County-run Infant Toddler Program where we live is free and very accessible to parents. For us, it was best not to wait, as it ultimately makes life more frustrating for Sophie when I don't understand her needs. Our first lesson with the Developmental Specialist consisted of improving Sophie's communication via eye contact and pointing to her selections. The thought process is that once Sophie is comfortable communicating through non-verbal means, we can coax her to speak. I've spoken to a countless number of parents who all try to reassure me that Sophie will just one day spit out a whole paragraph.
Hey Haute Mamas! I'm Riche Holmes Grant, a modern mom + mompreneur who designs smart + stylish products that make your mommy gig easier.
When I'm not busy taking orders from my toddler boss, I'm contributing to MarthaStewart.com or in the kitchen whipping up delicious baby + toddler gourmet creations in my BambiniWare Apronini.
Get my FREE book on How to Make the Best Food for Your Baby here!
I live in the Washington, DC area with my husband and daughter. Follow our adventures on Instagram via @BambiniWare!
- Riche Holmes Grant