By Steve Sears
The month of May means many things. The first of the season’s flowers bloom, the incoming heat of summer pervades the atmosphere, and, of course, the annual celebration of Mother’s Day. Rating the before mentioned in order of importance, the latter would be top of the list, and should be on a daily basis, year-round.
While every Mom is Denville is special, Denville Life highlights four Moms who embody what good motherhood is all about.
Allyson Morren, owner of A & R Interiors, is a mom to 3 teenage daughters who attend Denville schools, Morris Knolls and Morris Catholic. Casey, 18, is a high school senior; Brooke, 16, is a sophomore; and 14-year-old Averie is a Freshman.
“The motherhood juggle was inherited,” says Morren, “as I learned from my own mother to balance home and the business, A&R Interiors. I became stronger and great at multi-tasking.”
Morren’s inspiration of a mom growing up was her grandmother. “She learned how to live in America and adapt to a whole new culture in her twenties. She was loving and gentle but found her way in this new culture.”
The most challenging aspect of being a Mom? “I am constantly finding new solutions because something always comes up. Everyday requires flexibility because the children’s lives are very active. I encourage my children to be very involved in academics, sports and theater, building their confidence individually. Having confident and happy children is what I consider the most important skills and talent I can instill in my kids. “
Morren says, “Watching each child grow into their own “specialness” is her proudest “Mom moment.” “They have unique talents they each explore. My most recent proud Mom moment was watching my oldest daughter organize and host a talent show for special needs students. Her joy and passion she found working with these children brought me to tears.”
This gets interesting, even heartwarming.
“I have two daughters. Frannie is 22 years old and about to graduate Engineering School at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Cassidy is 18 years old and will graduate from Morris Knolls High School in June. I also have one German “daughter”, Laura who is 17 and lived with us last year.”
She further explains. “I have never been a stepmom, but I have been a host mom! Last year, we welcomed a German high school student, Laura, into our home for the entire school year. And I had the privilege of being what she called her “American Mom” for 10 months. I told her the same things as I did my own kids when dropping her off at parties or sleepovers: “If you are uncomfortable, I’ll come get you – no matter what time. Just call.” I treasured the opportunity to be the stand-in mom for Laura for almost a year and was caught off guard by how hard it was to give her back to her German parents at the end of the school year. For Mother’s Day, she bought me a necklace that said ‘mom’. That melted my heart.”
Kohler, who owns Danceworks Denville, believes that no woman is ever prepared for motherhood, but help and hints came courtesy of those who visited her studio. “I have been around moms and kids my entire working life, so even before I was married, I had a front row seat for different parenting styles. I always say I was an excellent parent until I had kids! I thought I knew just what would work and what I’d never do. It turns out that all goes out the window when you are in the trenches with your own children.”
Motherhood has given her patience, strength, endurance (“Babies in car seats are heavy!”), and a whole new perspective on the world. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Being a mother is like letting your heart run around outside your body.’ You have to let go of that need for control because the older they get the more they do independently of you. Now that my girls are both adults, I struggle with worry because I can’t be with them all the time. I worry as much as I did when they were 2 and 7 – maybe more because now they drive! I had no idea how much I would love my daughters. They are my greatest gift and blessing and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be their mom.“
Kohler’s most challenging moments as a mom are letting her children go while at the same time supporting them. “The most important aspect of being a mom, for me, has been having my daughter’s backs. I have tried to let my daughters know that no matter how bad they mess up I will always love them, and I will help them fix things. Every child deserves to be treasured and cherished. That’s my job as their mom… to make them feel that way.”
And Frannie and Cassidy have made her feel proud – many times over. “When my older daughter was searching for an engineering job, she was very interested in working for a particular organization but decided against a job where she would be doing something that did not sit well with her morals. And my younger daughter, as much as she was overwhelmed with applications and essays during the college search, would not accept any help because “I need to do this on my own”. And just like that they are grown and beautiful, mature young adults. And that is the proudest of Mom Moments.”
“I think I was fairly ready,” she says of motherhood to daughter Nidhi, 13, and son Neel, 10, “though I don’t think anyone is actually prepared for what it involves until after stepping into it. We all come into it thinking we know what to do, and the kids prove us wrong. It’s always a learning process.”
Pandruvada’s mom was her role model for a good mom when she was growing up. “I think my mom definitely was great at balancing her work life with being a mom. She would sit with us for hours crafting, singing, reading, helping with our school work and cooking our favorite foods. We never felt that we were missing out on anything as she was there for us whenever we needed her.” Unlike her own mom, Pandruvada hasn’t embarked on a career since leaving India fourteen years ago, but honors and respects those that accomplish it. “I used to be a Merchandiser for a garment manufacturer and exporter. I can’t imagine having the time to spend with my kids as I could when they were little if I were working in that field. I’m always amazed on how well my mom before and my friends now, juggle their life between the two worlds. I have a hard-enough time when I’m involved in PTA events that I feel I do not give them the time they need from me.”
She reflects on the good changes that motherhood has brought to her. “It’s an amazing thing to be able to create new life. Nurturing that life is a ‘Sadhana’ as my dad would say in Sanskrit. A practice. A pursuit. A service. You start thinking of others before yourself, which is a way of self-realization in a sense. There is a tendency for humans to be self-centered, but a little life in your hands can do wonders to change that.”
“I think the most challenging is to realize when to let go of the reins. You have the urge to protect and provide…always. The most important aspect for me personally is to have the trust of your kids and for them to realize that you will be there if they need you, whenever that is.”
Nidhi and Neel celebrate with Pandruvada often their accomplishments. “There have been many academic and personal triumphs for my kids that made me so very proud to be their parent. But I can’t describe how proud I was when I had my first born! I shouted out to my mom from the delivery room saying, ‘Do you hear your granddaughter?!’ It was magical and I was bursting with pride at being a ‘mom’ to what felt like a perfect bundle in my arms!”
For Kim Leur, being a mom was a childhood dream she has realized three times over. “Going back through my school memory books, almost every year in the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” section, I listed “Mommy” with my other choice of occupation (which varied from Coach to Teacher to Computer Programmer. Dave and I both knew we wanted kids so when our first came along, we both felt ready.”
Kim Leur is a stay-at-home mom to a 12-year-old daughter, a 10-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.
“While I don’t have a full-time job, I do have several volunteer jobs, and I also do work two nights a week at the front desk at Danceworks, where all three of my kids and I all dance. Without the love, support and help of both my husband and my mom, doing these things would not be possible.”
Being a mom helped her appreciate her parents more than she had before. “Dave and I both grew up in Denville. When we got married, he was going to Grad School at the University of Alaska, in Anchorage, Alaska. Both of the girls were born up there. I would stay with my Mom and Dad while his semesters were done, and he was traveling with field work for his job. When we moved back to Denville after he graduated, he was still working in Alaska doing field work 3 to 6 weeks on, 3 to 6 weeks off. We stayed with my mom (my Dad died a few days after our second was born, while my mom was in Alaska helping me with the girls) until he found local work and we bought our house here in Denville, about a year later.” She pays tribute to her own mom. “Now that we have three kids, I don’t know how I would survive without my mom. She’s always there for me, Dave and the kids whenever we need her. I always knew how much my mom and dad did for me growing up, but now that I see first-hand what is involved with “taxiing the kids” it has given me a new perspective on how much more they did for me than I thought. It’s also shown me how much more important family is than I ever knew it could be.”
Her mom and grandmother were her inspiration. “My Mom and her Mom, both taught me so much about how to take care of family. My Grandma was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. She, also, always made herself available to listen and help with everything that came up in life, both good and bad. My mom, after being taught by my Grandma is the other of the best cooks I’ve ever known. Both taught me how to cook and bake. They also taught me the importance of putting family first, following the rules and always doing what’s right.”
The most challenging for Leur is making the time I have available to all her children, “in such a way that all of them feel that they get as much time with me as they need. I feel that this is also the most important aspect of being a Mom.”
“My proudest Mom moments are whenever someone compliments me on how well behaved and responsible my children are or when they tell me they see my Mom in me.”