May 18, 2022

A Mother’s Story – Family Ties of DC Support Parent

Cheri Mallory is a Family Ties of DC Support Parent, a wife, and a mother of two children. She is a graduate of Norfolk State University. She has lived in DC for most of her adult life and considers DC “home.” In honor of Mother’s Day, we were delighted to have the opportunity for her to share her story of motherhood.

Please share a little about yourself as a woman first, then as a mother.

I love art! I had suppressed my love for it for 40 years until I came across a free kit just before the pandemic. Someone had placed out a new art kit to be discarded, and I happened to walk by it. It was the exact kit I had in my Amazon shopping cart. I took it and interpreted it as a sign that I needed to paint. I love painting because once you put yourself on that canvas, everything else fades away. Painting is a form of self-care for me. It helped give me an outlet, especially during the pandemic. I’ve participated in quite a few art shows and sold several items. I make an effort to keep them reasonably priced so that everybody can enjoy them. Holistic wellness is another of my passions. For 15 years, I worked as a practitioner.

As a mother, I have instilled in my children a strong sense of self-reliance. I’ve fostered and nurtured their curiosity, and I’ve found ways for them to do whatever they desire. They are both independent.

Introduce us to your child with a disability. 

My daughter is Kayla, and she’s gorgeous! She is into fashion and music and has an eclectic taste in both. She is Autism, level 3, and OCD. Level 3 means she needs substantial support. She is non-verbal, so she uses an Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device to communicate. She does say a word now and then, however. She requires constant help and supervision. Because she loves fashion, she will participate in Hip Hop Dance Class/Fashion show this week! She already has her outfit picked out. To prepare for events like this, we do social stories. I practice with her so she becomes more comfortable.

We have to take extra precautions in our home, and everything is locked. There’s a funny story about it. When I awoke one morning and smelled coffee, I assumed my husband had gotten up early and prepared some. It smelled fantastic, and when I got to the kitchen, I discovered Kayla making coffee angels on the floor in my good Costco coffee!  She is smart and very funny! Most kids like her with this type of cognition issue don’t have this sense of humor. It serves as a reminder to me that, despite her disability, she is still a person.

What are the rewarding aspects of being a mother?

Seeing your child grow is one of the most enjoyable elements of being a mother and seeing them try new things they have a passion for. They are discovering what they enjoy. My kids are fiercely independent. I’m so happy they do things on their own. My son is on the track team and an amazing gamer! 

What are the challenging aspects of being a mother?

Stepping aside. Allowing my children to make their own mistakes because they need to learn. Even though I want to step in and intervene, not doing so.

What would you say to another mother who needs encouragement to keep moving forward (i.e.… self-care, managing family, and advocacy)?

Do your research! Even though I was a nanny through college and taught preschool, I didn’t know what to do once my daughter was diagnosed. Reach out to other parents, and don’t be afraid to ask questions at the appointments. Don’t be afraid of a diagnosis; the only way to understand your child is to embrace the diagnosis.

Tell me about your experience with Quality Trust and being an Family Ties of DC (FTDC) parent.

QT has been a huge help and I’m glad to have it as a resource for my family. I’m a peer parent for the FTDC program. It’s nice to belong to a community and interact with other parents. We have much in common. Ms. White is a great support and I look forward to continuing to mentor other parents within the program.

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