Moms Around Town: Part 3

It’s no secret that Anthony Around Town can’t get enough of sharing the stories, experiences, and perspectives of some the fascinating people who call Elko home. So far, in 2019, we’ve chatted with heli-skiers, teachers, donut shop owners, museum directors, sleep consultants, and even a custom bike builder! What these people have had to say matters, because, when it comes to being a community, everyone’s involvement is essential!

However, there’s one giant demographic in our city that we haven’t heard much from this year, our local moms! Sometimes, it’s easy for this role to be perceived as “lesser,” especially when listing off all the fancy job titles found in our city. “I’m a miner. I work in medicine. I own a restaurant etc.” However, if you think being a mom is less of a job compared to any other type of occupation, then I’m afraid you’ve sadly been misinformed. There’s no such thing as “just” being a parent.

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Moms, here at Anthony Around Town, we have your back. Your voice matters. Your story matters. Motherhood matters, and this week, we’re going to highlight that truth.

 Every year, AAT invites local mommies to share their thoughts on specific topics regarding motherhood. This year, we have three wonderful contributors joining us: Amanda Larriaga, Angela Browning, and Jessica Distad. We’ll hear some of their points in this feature, and we’ll continue the conversation, with these specific women, in part four of “Moms Around Town.”

Amanda Larrinaga and her two children of 9 and 5 years-old

Thank you for joining us this year, ladies! To start, can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves and your stories? We want to get to know you a little bit!  

 Amanda- “I was born in Long Beach, California. However, I moved to Elko when I was six, shortly after all the Rodney King stuff was going had happened.  I vaguely remember California, so I consider Elko my home. I have two kids; a nine (almost ten) year-old and a five-year-old.”

“I became a mom just a few months after turning twenty-one. Before I had my first, I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life. I wasn’t interested in college whatsoever. However, three days before I gave birth to my first child, I started college online. I was doing schoolwork during my hospital stay after birth!  The reason I started school was BECAUSE of having my daughter. A few months before having her, something just clicked and told me I needed to do it for her. Having her was the driving force which got me to obtaining my Associates of Arts in Health Service Administration.” 

“When my daughter was about three, I suffered two miscarriages which were some of the toughest things a women/family has to go through.   Thankfully, in 2014, I welcomed my son! Also, during my pregnancy with him, I decided to go back to school, online, and obtain my BA in Health Service Administration. Again, having him was my driving force.”

“I have been a stay at home mom for the last eleven years. While it does have its fair share of ups and downs, I don’t regret any moments of it.  There are times where I wish I had a few good girlfriends, or any at all, to have a cup of coffee with; however, after having kids, friendships change and so do priorities. I do have my own little business I started about three and a half years ago, which keeps me busy! It’s called Hooked2It! I crochet items and sell handmade teardrop earrings!”

Angela Browning- “I’m originally from West Virginia. I grew up there and moved to Elko when I was sixteen-years-old. I grew up a coal miner’s daughter, and when the coal industry began to suffer, we moved to Elko where I became a gold miner’s daughter.”

“I grew up with all the same friends and having tons of family around, so moving to Elko was extremely difficult. I was thrown into a whole new world. It was all new to me, but Elko was welcoming.  Even though West Virginia will always be my “home,” Elko definitely comes close as well.”

 “I currently work at The Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital; I’ve been there for almost eleven years now. I’m a certified coding specialist, and I absolutely love what I do. We recently were able to start working from home, and I love it. I also previously worked at the Family Resource Center when it was located on Ruby Vista Drive. I worked there for ten years as the family to family connection and car seat specialist. I loved that job as well. I was able to go to work every day and help others. It was the most rewarding job I have ever had.”

 “I enjoy spending time with my kids and watching them participate in all of their activities. My son plays baseball and runs track, while my daughter is completely engaged in being a little miss Elko County princess. We spend a lot of time attending community events and helping with fundraising any way we can. We also enjoy spreading Congenital Heart Defect awareness around Elko County. I love helping others and ultimately would like to be a sounding board for families that are just finding out about their child’s diagnosis. It can be a very trying time for parents, and just having someone, who has experienced it all, listen can help more than you can imagine.”

Jessica Distad– “ I recently moved to Elko with my husband, Brad, who is the new Area Director for Young Life Elko/Spring Creek.  We have been married for thirteen years and have lived in seven different homes.  We both grew up in Maryland, then moved to Langfang, China.  From there we moved to Minnesota, back to Maryland, then California, and now Nevada.  When we were first married, we were full-time public-school teachers.  I was teaching middle school art, and Brad was teaching high school math.  We both left our jobs to work for Young Life full-time in 2007.”

Angela Browning and her two children of fourteen and six years-old

 Ladies, what has your journey of motherhood been like so far? Smooth? Difficult? Tell us about your experiences.

Amanda- “My journey of motherhood has been amazing with a side of chaos. Seriously, it’s no walk in the park! When I was younger, I didn’t think I wanted kids, so when I became pregnant about a month and a half before turning the grand age of twenty-one, I was blank. Becoming pregnant was not planned, so, when it did happen, I knew I had to get my head out of my “you know what.” Thankfully, my parents were very supportive.”

“With all that said, I wouldn’t change having a kid at twenty-one. Having my daughter was the push I needed. Before her, I was just a young adult wanting to be young and dumb. I am thankful for not getting to experience that young/dumb life because I wouldn’t have my daughter, and I wouldn’t be where I am today. Having a kid was something I thought I didn’t want, but it was something I needed. I want my kids to know that whatever is going on good, bad, ugly, they are capable!”

Angela- “My journey of motherhood has been tremendously rewarding.  My son, Kaiden, is fourteen-years-old and my daughter, Kylee, is six-years-old. God blessed me with beautiful, bright, caring and loving children and for that, I am so grateful. However, although it has been rewarding, there are times the reward has come with an overwhelming amount of difficulty. I don’t think there will be one mother that will say the “hood” in “motherhood” is smooth, but in my case, I feel it has been difficult in many aspects. I have two children, whom my world revolves around. I am a single mom so that always contributes to some portion of difficulty, but this will make it twice as rewarding as well.”

“My biggest difficulty with motherhood would hands down be caring for a child that has constant medical needs. My daughter Kylee was born with a congenital heart defect. It’s hereditary, and we had no idea until Kylee was born that she had anything wrong with her. When she was born, they detected an issue and told us she would then need to see a pediatric cardiologist immediately. I was in shock; I was lost and afraid and quite unsure what everything meant. After we were discharged from the hospital, we traveled to SLC, Utah to meet with a pediatric cardiologist. It was there that our journey began. She was diagnosed with a VSD (ventricular septal defect), pulmonary artery stenosis, a right bundle branch block, and valve regurgitation. I know, a lot, right? That’s exactly how I felt when told the news. In layman terms, she had a large hole in her heart, and the main artery that was less than half the size it should be to pump blood from her heart to her lungs. Her valves were pumping incorrectly, and the block made the beats of her heart irregular. From that point on, the difficulty of motherhood had been fully present. We were required to travel to Utah sometimes weekly, monthly and anyone who has children knows traveling with an infant is difficult.”

“For the first two years of Kylee’s life, we spent more time trying to keep her alive and healthy more than anything. As a single mother, I still had to work and take care of not only her but my son as well. There were many sleepless nights, a ton of tests, doctor visits, and around the clock care that seemed impossible at times. At her two-year-old appointment, we were told she was “out of the woods.” It appeared she wouldn’t need open heart surgery, and that we could carry on with our lives just as anyone else. In all honesty, this was challenging for me as a mother. How do you go from one extreme to the other? How was this possible? Even though it was difficult to believe, I tried my best, and I will say that for the next two years we focused on just that. During her four-year-old appointment with the pediatric cardiologist, we performed the regular testing that we had done every routine visit, but this one was a little different. I felt it; I feared the doctor coming into the room. Sure enough, Kylee’s condition had declined. Her tests came out abnormal, and we were told she would have to have open heart surgery within six months, or she might not live past that. I was devastated, scared, heartbroken and angry. I was angry that this was happening to my perfect little angel.”

“The next few months were trying to say the least. I battled to stay strong for my children, but as you can imagine, I was struggled to do so. I fought depression, anxiety and for the first time in my life, I questioned my faith.  The day finally came, and it was time for her surgery. I had spent countless days restoring my faith and finally realized that God loves my little girl more than I, and he blessed me with her, and I trusted he would help he through this, as well as blessing me with the strength to conquer this difficult time in our lives. He did just that! Kylee’s surgery went fantastic; she made it through and returned to be my loving little girl that she always had been.”

“I can honestly say, this was the hardest part of motherhood I have and will experience. However, as I said before, even though it’s challenging, the reward is completely worth it. She still has issues but nowhere close to what she previously had. She can live her life like a normal child, and as a parent, it’s an overwhelming feeling watching your child go from being so sick to blossoming into a child that can now live life!”

Jessica- “I think every parent’s journey is unique and full of both struggles and triumphs.  We have been blessed with five healthy children, but we also struggled through two miscarriages.  Prior to having kids, we agreed that I would stay at home and homeschool our brood.  However, living on a single youth-ministry income, and fundraising for a living isn’t easy.  After learning about Dave Ramsey in 2010, we became debt-free (except for our mortgage) in 2015.  However, we have also struggled through reduced salaries, job losses, and having to move in with our parents.  We were both blessed to be raised in strong supportive families, but we have spent most of our marriage living far away from them.  We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do what we love with the people we love, by being intentional with the choices we have made, year after year.”

Jessica Distad, her husband Brad, and her children of 9, 8, 6, 3-years-old along with her 11 months baby. (Photo Credit: Amy LoSchiavo Photography).

You can stay caught up on everything going on around here at AAT by checking out our “Stay Connected” page! Make sure you never miss a feature!

See you around, Elko!

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