Sunday is Mother’s Day. I will be among the millions who will be celebrating with their families, pausing and reflecting on the countless joys of motherhood. Supporting our children as they grow, re-discovering the world through their eyes, and taking pride in their accomplishments – large and small – are just a few of the precious gifts we moms are thankful for.
Like so many things in life, motherhood has its flip slide. Moms face challenges, pretty much on a daily basis. There are the struggles our children experience – from scraped knees and disappointing first dates to more serious issues like poor self-esteem and bullying. And there are the issues we ourselves encounter, like juggling the demands of work and family, taking care of our physical and emotional health, or the stress of managing a tight household budget.
As a relatively new mom, I’m experiencing many of these issues for the first time. My twins turned one in March, and I’ll be honest – it’s been quite a year! They were born prematurely, and those early months were difficult in many ways. I’ve been fortunate to have the incredible support of my husband, family, friends, and colleagues, but since returning to work, I’ve been learning how to manage the daily balancing act of being a mother and being a CEO.
Motherhood has also reinforced the importance of the YWCA’s mission of empowering women. So much of the work we do and the programs we offer here in Bergen County focus on helping children learn and grow in a warm and nurturing environment. It’s been that way since we opened our first child care program in 1957, followed by our first day camp – Camp Y-Oak-A – in 1960, and I’m proud to say it is still serving families today!
But creating a safe and happy place for kids is only half of the equation. I’ve heard countless stories – from members, volunteers and staff – of how these same programs have empowered mothers. I’m told that our first childcare initiative was developed to support the YWCA’s own staff – working moms who had no access to reliable care. It was run in part by volunteer board members – a perfect example of women supporting women in achieving their personal and professional goals.
Our first “official” childcare center opened in 1972 to meet the needs of an expanding workforce of women. Just three years later our Tribute to Women and INdustry awards were founded, honoring 50 professional women for their achievements. As demand continued to grow, so did our childcare programs, culminating in the opening of the YWCA Rodie Child Care Center in 2001 Now called the YWCA Early Learning Center, our amazing staff continues to provide outstanding care for infants, toddlers and young children in an enriching, stimulating and loving environment.
Working moms have long relied on our reasonably priced early childhood and before and after school programs, which give them the freedom to pursue their careers with the peace of mind of knowing their children are well cared for.
The same holds true for our summer camps, which we strive to make an affordable and convenient option for working parents – or those who simply want their children to enjoy the fun and friendship. This year we’re offering several early registration incentives and refer-a-friend savings options through May 30, so be sure to check our camp page for details.
The YWCA Ridgewood Newcomers Club provides another avenue of support for new moms and families that are new to the neighborhood. From play dates to book clubs to volunteer opportunities, this vibrant group of young women offers a variety of ways to meet new friends, share concerns and get involved in the community.
Mother’s Day comes once a year, but the YWCA honors and empowers moms all year long. I’m grateful to come to work each day and be both supported as a mother and inspired to carry on this vital mission. Whether its childcare, self-care or a community that cares, we will continue to be a place where mothers of all ages – as well as sisters, daughters and neighbors – can feel at home.