Gina Badalaty Shares Imperfection At Its Best Through
Having lost my husband to cancer when I was thirty-five years old, I came to realize, very quickly, that “striving for perfection” would be the death of me, given I continued to try to do so. It is a behavior too many mothers, like myself, suffer with and fall down to. Under normal circumstances, perfect is unachievable. Under unusual ones? You can clearly imagine how detrimental remaining attached to that illusion actually is. We are only human, after all. It’s a truth Gina Badalaty and her blog Embracing Imperfect reminds us of in an extremely vulnerable, powerful, and helpful way.
The fact is Gina’s family life is less than perfect, which she shares with her readers through an honesty and forthrightness that underrides her highly unique voice. However, what I find most admirable about this mommy blogger and her blog is how hell-bent she is on refusing to put a saintly spin or tone to her reality or herself. It is a ‘realness’ that allows her readers to find solace and personal forgiveness through the posts she writes...not to mention, a heck of a lot of valuable information all moms could use.
I urge you to grab hold of the beneficial advice and wisdom Gina Badalaty has to offer through the interview below, then go beyond both for additional life-lines by visiting her blog Embracing Imperfect. You will be opening the door to enormous “peace of mind,” given you follow my recommendation -- something we all could use a bit more of on a daily basis, right?
What is your full name?
Where do you live?
Macungie, PA (an hour north of Philadelphia)
How many children do you have?
If you were asked to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?
What is your personal mantra?
There’s no reason to regret the past as long as you learn from it.
Tell us about you and your life.
I’m the mother of 2 girls (ages 13 and 10) with special needs, happily married for over 17 years, and a Christian. Three weeks after our first daughter was born, we learned she had a rare form of Down Syndrome. Several weeks later, we learned she also had a small hole her in heart. We are very fortunate that the hole never grew, and so my daughter has never needed treatment or surgery, although she is carefully monitored every two years.
We had a lot of changes at that time besides her diagnosis -- relocation to a new place, longer working hours for my husband, a new home, my mom diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The stress was very difficult and it was only some months later that I realized I was suffering depression, most likely PPD. By the time I figured that out, Amelia’s smiling face had been greeting me in the mornings for months. Over time, her joyous spirit healed my depression. I’m happy to say I never suffered from it again.
Nearly 3 years later, my second daughter was born. She was not a happy baby and was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder at age 2 and autism at 3. We actually lost her once on vacation as she escaped our hotel while we slept, so I know how serious the issue of elopement (wandering) is for children with autism. We are very blessed that our hotel security had her, safe and sound. We had never been told about elopement and we took steps once we got home – like installing security devices on our windows and doors – to prevent it from ever happening again.
By the time she was five, she still slept in short shifts like a baby. We were all very anxious and exhausted. At this time, a friend recommended I try removing dairy from her diet for a few weeks. Within two weeks, she was sleeping through the night properly. We also removed dairy for my older daughter, and her life-long sinus allergies went away, as well, improving her focus in school. Everything changed for us after that, as we learned the healing (and harming) power of food. What you feed your children can have an incredible impact on behavior, progress, and performance.
Today, our children are gluten, dairy, soy, and artificial dye/flavor free. We do not eat a lot of sugar, and we buy food that is mostly organic or non-GMO. We use homeopathy as well, which has also helped with the healing process and helped our kids conquer negative behaviors. With faith, prayer, hard work and LOTS of homemade healthy cooking, today, our girls are very content and successful in life, despite having extra challenges.
Finish this sentence, “The best part about being a mom is _____.”
The best part about being a mom is seeing my daughter - who used to only cry or get angry - smile and laugh all the time. There is nothing better than helping a child get through her pain to discover the joyous heart underneath it all.
How long have you been blogging for? Do you blog for any group blogs or websites beyond your own?
I’ve had my blog for fourteen years. I write for the group blog, WebHosting Secret Revealed, about blogging and social media for new bloggers and for Accurate Tax about sales tax and ecommerce. I also have written regularly for Mamavation and TheSoftlanding about organic and toxic free living, food, and more.
What is the name of your blog? When was it launched?
Embracing Imperfect was re-launched in February 2015. It was a rebrand of Mom-Blog.com, which I launched in 2002. I still own Mom-Blog, which I plan on re-launching with tutorials on how to blog.
Share with us the significance of the name of your blog to you. How did you come up with it?
A few years ago, I was going through a period where I seemed to come across the lesson that we are not perfect – over and over. Did you ever have a period like that, where God seems to be telling you something specific? No one likes to be imperfect and I felt that I knew a lot of moms raising kids with extra challenges who WERE perfect. They handmade food, homeschooled, and spent every penny on therapies and treatments. It made me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing enough, but then I realized, if you look at it that way, no parent can ever do enough. God did not create us to be perfect, but to do the best we can do.
Once I understood that, I stopped focusing on perfecting how I was treating my kids. I let go a lot of stuff, like a dazzling clean house or a 100% organic diet. I made the best choices I could with what I had to work with and let the rest go. That is how you embrace being an imperfect parent. As soon as I realized that, I knew I had a phrase that described how I felt about life.
What is the primary focus of your blog?
Parenting kids with special needs and special diets, with a nontoxic focus.
What makes your blog unique?
It’s a lifestyle blog, focused on moms, and it exists to make life easier for them. It can be a real challenge raising children with special needs or disabilities, but it’s also a great blessing. I want moms to break through the painful parts to find their joy in motherhood.
Tell us about your blog in depth, including what you hope to accomplish through it.
There was so much I didn’t know that turned out to be easy fixes, and so many difficult challenges that had solutions I couldn’t see when my kids were younger. I want to show parents that there are hacks that make life easier and you need to do them, because there are definitely parts of raising kids with special needs that have no short cuts.
For example, helping my child to sleep helped all of us heal. Sleeplessness can cause a lot of problems -- from stress to anxiety to depression. Getting that issue resolved was a #1 priority for our family; once we did solve it, we could move on to other problems. Meanwhile, potty training kids with certain challenges is vastly different than training without any such challenges. There are no short cuts for this – it’s a lot of work, requiring a lot of tools you need to implement over a longer period of time as well as unique issues to consider. Many autistic kids have problems with their ‘gut.’ This makes potty training more of a struggle.
I also want to make sure that moms take care of themselves. You need to be physically and emotionally energized and strong to raise kids with challenges. Whether you are dealing with potty training an older child, fighting for your child’s rights at an IEP meeting or handling negative and dangerous behaviors like self injury or elopement, you need to be in good shape with your own diet, health, keeping fit, getting sleep, fending off anxiety and depression AND taking time for yourself and your marriage if you’re not single. I’ve seen too many people make it about the kids, one hundred percent of the time, leaving nothing to help when the inevitable burn out settles in.
I believe we were designed to enjoy our families while remaining ‘real.’ I want Embracing Imperfect to help moms get to that place where they feel good about their families, feel hopeful for their children, and enjoy their lives at least sometimes. For me, I can’t do any of this without my Christian faith, so I integrate posts about this really important tool that has helped me be a better mom and a more hopeful person.
Are you a Brand Ambassador and if so, for which companies?
I have been in the past for Silk milk, Best Buy, and NOW Foods. I’ve also done lots of work for other gluten and dairy-free or non-GMO brands but I’m trying to fine tune and focus the brands I work with.
Beyond your blog, do you engage in other social media outlets such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.?
Yes, all of those!
And I’m launching a Periscope this month on Christian parenting, for those raising kids with special needs. (@ginabad)
What is the one piece of advice you would give to moms who may be interested in beginning a blog?
Just start by being yourself. There will be bumps and things you’ll need to learn along the way – and plenty of websites with tips, but the most important thing is be authentic. Your audience is looking for a fresh voice in whatever space you want to write in, so just be you while you are writing for them.
Do you support – either formally or informally – a particular social cause?
Yes! I am a big proponent of GMO labeling and have worked with numerous campaigns over the years. In fact, the Non-GMO Project just reached out to me to write some guest posts for them.
When all is said and done, what is the one thing you hope your loved ones and those who knew you remember about you?
Gina encouraged me to live a better life with God’s grace. She was a good wife, mother, friend and helper.
A back-to-the-basics mom blogger whose ‘all-natural’ approach to motherhood (and parenthood) infuses her with incredible strength and purpose, Gina Badalaty gives readers a dose of reality in the best and most helpful ways possible through Embracing Imperfect. I, daresay, I felt a whole lot less imperfect and much more accepting of my own idiosyncrasies after interviewing Gina….the few I have to speak (which would include my enormous ego and my propensity to make bad jokes at my own expense)!!!!
Thanks, Gina, for helping us to remember how overrated perfect actually is...especially when being a mom!