Every mother deserves time to herself; time to regroup, relax and refresh. Yet so many of us are caught up in the needs of our children, our work, our spouses and so much more. In fact if you ask any mother when she fits in time to take care of herself, most likely you’ll get a blank stare or a tired laugh.
That’s why we at Long Island Parent magazine wanted to give local moms the chance to win a day of pampering. We solicited entries to our New You Mom contest starting last fall, asking you to tell us why you think you should win.
We had dozens of responses, making it a challenge for the moms on our staff to choose a winner. Your entries made us laugh in recognition and in more than one case brought us to tears. We were surprised and moved by the fact that quite a few moms’ names were entered by others.
We had a husband nominate his wife; a teen daughter, her mother; a mom, her mother-in-law; and someone else nominated her aunt. Some of you have had unspeakably challenging years with illness, job loss and miscarriage, and we thank you for sharing your stories with us. We wish that everyone could have won, and in fact, thanks to the generosity of The Inn and Spa at East Wind in Wading River, 24 of you will be getting $20 gift certificates to encourage you to take that time you so deserve.
But there was one woman’s story that resonated with us as every mom’s story. Our cover mom Julia Cuccaro of Lindenhurst, mother of four, opened her letter by telling us: “I sit here, a 36-year-old woman in need of an eyebrow waxing and haircut and highlight. … I don’t recognize myself in my wedding pictures due to the fact that I’ve aged and let myself go for the sake of my family and children. I still wear my black shoes that I bought when I was in my twenties and have one pair of black pants that I wear to every holiday or event. Approximately five months ago I stopped nursing my one-year-old son and still haven’t purchased appropriately fitting bras.”
Well, we could all relate. Julia also told us about the career as a pediatric dental hygienist she had to leave behind due to a leg injury that left her with a limp and chronic pain, and the conflicted feelings that causes for her: a mom who wants to be there for her children, but also misses a job she loved.
She concluded: “I feel I could use a day to myself considering how I’ve dedicated my life to my family and haven’t left them in the nine-and-a-half years since I was married. I just feel that my children and husband should come first, and there will be a time for me.”
And so we decided that it was Julia’s time. She arranged for her mother-in-law to take care of Meghan, eight, Jillian, five, Timmy, three, and year-old Anthony, and her “me-time” began.
First Julia and I met for a girls’ morning out shopping trip at Dress Barn in Huntington where she tried on armloads of spring outfits, finally settling on the floral dress and sweater she’s wearing on our cover. We added some silver jewelry for fun. (The properly fitting bra was Julia’s task for another day.)
And on the seemingly first sunny day in March, we met at The Inn and Spa at East Wind for Julia’s main event. General manager Lou Ambrosio had arranged for Julia to spend her afternoon in luxury with treatments including a facial, manicure, haircut and highlights (that alone made her feel better, she says) and makeup.
Then it was show time. Susan Panetta, our art director, Julia and I met with Don Dunckley who was taking photos for Marco Photography (based in Bohemia and New Hyde Park), who also graciously donated their services. Julia was a natural as she posed for more than an hour. And she didn’t even blink when we were joined by our media partner Waldo Cabrera, executive director of My Long Island TV, Verizon FiOS1’s news magazine. You’ll see the video of that in the coming days on our site, www.liparentonline.com.
Then Julia’s husband Tim arrived from his teaching job in the Bronx. It was an added bonus that Julia and Tim had been married at the Country Gardens at East Wind. So after all the fanfare it was time for us to leave the couple to enjoy their first night away since they became parents. East Wind had included a night at the hotel along with dinner and breakfast at Desmond’s.
The End of the Story
Before we left, Tim told us that he thought Julia was the perfect New You Mom contest winner. “She spends all her time doing for us, and she’s our hero,” he says. “She definitely deserves this pampering.”
And what did Julia think of the whole experience? “I entered the contest on one of those days when I was in a rut, feeling bad that my career was gone, just sort of feeling sorry for myself. I never thought I would win,” she says. “It was so nice to get my hair cut and have a new outfit and just time away to relax. And I really appreciated that the staff of Long Island Parent
understood what it’s like to be a mom and need that time away, but never quite feeling like you deserve it because you think your kids need you every moment. The whole experience was fabulous, even as I felt a little guilty, that I should be somewhere else.”
She says she was fine until about “1:30 in the morning when I woke up worried about the baby. It was weird not to have a baby monitor in the room.”
So by 7:30 am she was ready to get home to the kids, who she says it turns out were more concerned with going to Chuck E. Cheese than with their 24 hours away from mom.
Still, Julia feels the whole experience has prepared her to get away again, which will be soon for her tenth anniversary with Tim in June. And this time, she concedes, she has earned it.
We at Long Island Parent
want to thank all those who helped make this New You Mom contest possible: the staff at The Inn and Spa at East Wind, Marco Photography, and also Nikkis Dressing Room in Huntington for their dress donation. Visit our site to view the Verizon FiOS1 video and listen to a WALK 97.5 interview with Julia.
And by all means, moms, follow Julia’s lead and take some time for yourself. You deserve it.
Liza N. Burby is publisher/editor of
Long Island Parent magazine and a mom who should probably take her own advice and have a little down time this month. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.