I first met this dynamic Rocket City mom at a women’s leadership event over eight years ago. Her passion for community service is contagious, and now she’s doing important work as director of Christmas Charities Year Round in Huntsville. When she’s not fundraising for school supplies to give students in need, advocating for a better quality of life for families, or stocking the CCYR Mobile Closet for local kids to wear, she’s also a pretty awesome mom.
Read below to find out more about Hilary’s journey into nonprofit service and why we think she’s an Awesome Mom of Huntsville!
Saving the world… well, that may be a bit lofty, but my passion is to help bend the arch towards a more just and humanitarian community here in Huntsville. Joining CCYR (Christmas Charities Year Round) last year as their executive director is my dream job!
Hilary’s Motherhood Journey (So far!)
Where I am now, is a lovely place to be… but this was not the plan. I married right out of college and was ready to change the world as a career woman of the late 80’s! Before I knew it, 29 was around the corner, and my baby-clock was ticking LOUDLY. We dove into starting our family. (“How hard can it be?”) Two long years later, exhausted, stuck in miserable jobs, our marriage on the ropes, we made a major life change and moved to Europe following Derrick’s career. Eight years overseas afforded me the time and financial freedom to reevaluate my path. I was terrified of staying at home full-time with this little munchkin whom I was still getting to know. It also was a time to embrace these fears and try to figure out this whole “mom thing”. I worked at it and found that I sort of liked it.
We added our 2nd daughter while in Italy, 4 years apart. After moving back to the states, we landed in Huntsville with a kindergartner and 5th grader, and I decided to figure out the PTA and how to manage soccer teams. I started dipping my toe back in to the world of workers through the nonprofit sector at Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, and I was hooked! No pun intended – I was addicted to community service. I worked when the kids were in school, trying out new adventures with various nonprofit/community service jobs. In the afternoons and evenings, I tried to embrace the mess and welcomed sleepovers with pancake mornings, road trips with full minivans to parks, and beaches and Lowe Mill dock concerts on Friday nights. The mess of childhood really is quite short, and when we evolved to the middle school & high school ages I found that I could invest more and more of my time towards a career or community service – things that filled my cup.
Now, as a mom of adult children, I am genuinely enjoying a full-time career more than I thought I could. The kids are always in the back of my brain, and when the phone vibrates with a text or call from either, my heart stops for a moment… are they ok, what do I need to fix… and surprisingly most of the time it’s just a connection to share good news, or lousy news. My time of “fixing” or “making things right” are coming to a close, and I am loving this new chapter more than I thought I would.
Her Quest for Balance
I pursue the work/life balance daily! But I never achieve a true balance. Moving from full time mom to working mom for me was a weird combination of doing it all, but not having the time to be great at either. I was either late for carpool or missing a meeting at work. Now with 26- and 22-year-old daughters, it seems I was much too hard on myself. I always felt that without achieving balance, I was failing. Now I realize that investing time and energy to make it balance – it’s never “found” – is just as important and rewarding.
Her Rocket City Favorites
My favorite Huntsville Friday night plans are eating somewhere on the square downtown and people watching or hearing live music. Coffee in pjs Saturday morning with cuddles from Charlie the pooch, until I feel compelled to put on a bra. Blowing leaves from the yard is surprisingly satisfying. I sweat, breathe, and disconnect with social media and re-connect with nature. There might be a visit from the youngest with her buddies from Tuscaloosa and the eldest who lives down the street, convincing my husband to make their favorite meals, talking about current issues and laughing about our favorite TikToks until a campfire in the back yard seems like the right next step. Sunday morning at the Lady of our Sacred Bagels and Brunch, with cream cheese and lox. Urban exploring or a wander through Big Spring. Laundry completed to ensure fresh sheets after a final decompress in the hot tub, watching stars, with Grateful Dead in the background, and my hunky hubby with me ready to tackle the world tomorrow.
Funniest Parenting Moment
Daniela and Daycare: Dan was almost 3 years old and 2 mornings a week, while big sister Sam was in school, I brought Daniela to a morning daycare on the Army Post in Harrogate England. Daniela struggled with her “L’s” and would pop her pacifier in her mouth like a cigar. She always kept us laughing. This day, she was not in the mood for daycare, and I had an appointment to get to. I tried everything to convince her, “But, Sammy’s going to school and now you get to go to your school too…”
“No, Mom! I don’t want to.”
“They’ll be games and music, and stories…”
“NO, MOM! I DON’T WANT TO GO!”
“But all of you friends will miss you if you don’t…” That’s when she cut me off, eyes fiery, using her pacifier as a Bill Clinton knuckle pointer, to help punctuate her argument even as she was resigned to giving in, but needed to make one final stand.
“MOM! JUST YEAVE IT A-YONE!” Our family will forever use this L-less statement when we have given up, but are still pissed.
Hilary Shares Her Top Parenting Tips
Calm always wins. If you can manage not to yell or jump too quickly, if you can slow down and be kind and understanding first before fixing whatever needs to be rectified, usually the outcome will be better. As a non-spanker, I yelled… a lot. My biggest regret from early childhood parenting is that I wish I had approached more issues with a calmer head and yelled less.
The Super Power She Wishes She Had
Flying, no question. I think the freedom to be wherever you want to be without the hassle of cars and looking down from above, knowing exactly where I am, is a very calming and powerful feeling. Or being able to sing like Idina Menzel.
Get your Gameface on – “Formation” by Beyonce
Recover from heartbreak -Anything from Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morrissette. Especially “You Oughta Know”
Energize yourself – “Feelin’ Good” (Bassnectar Remix)
Let loose and have fun with your friends – “Hey Ya!” by Outcast… or any thing with a good sing-along chorus.
Do you know a local mom you think we should feature as an Amazing Rocket City Mom? We want to hear from you about her – send us your ideas and we’ll get in touch!
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.