Working Mama Spotlight on Meredith Howell

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Where are you from: Battle Creek, Michigan

Where do you live now: Indianapolis, Indiana

Education: BA from Western Michigan University

Career: Assistant Director for Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS Indiana), VIPS is a nonprofit that provides early intervention to babies and toddlers with blindness/low vision throughout the state. I raise the money necessary to provide our specialized services at no cost to the families. I’m also the mom of a little girl who is legally blind and was served by the agency. It’s pretty rewarding to be able to give back to the agency that helped change the course of our lives.

Family life: I’m married to the best guy. His name is Rob and we’ve been together for over 10 years. We have two kids, Lola who is six, and Sebastian who is three. We have three rescue dogs and one cat. Our life is chaotic, but good.

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Favorite Indy Eats: Egg Roll #1, The Legend, Thai Taste

Favorite family fun spot/activity: We love going to new playgrounds. Since Lola is visually impaired, we try to find the best playgrounds that are accessible for her. We really like Wolf Run.

Favorite "me-time" activity: I play in a women’s rooftop hockey league and that seems to be my favorite thing to do for myself right now.

What are you reading right now? Reading? Now that’s funny. I have a library book that’s been on my nightstand for way too long now. The extent of my reading is now my Indianapolis Monthly and Cooks Illustrated magazines. I do like reading blogs written by parents who have kids with special needs, too.

Best Mom Moment: Anytime my kids are playing peacefully with one another is a good mom moment for me.

Career Highlight(s): Winning big grants or hosting successful fundraisers are sure exciting, but I think the highlight for me is when a parent of a young kiddo who was just diagnosed with a visual impairment calls and I can tell them that there will be a day when they wake up and their child’s visual impairment will be the last thing on their mind. Since I’ve lived it, I feel confident telling others that it will be OK and that you get used to your version of normal over time. There is often a moment of silence and then I hear the relief in their voice that someone “gets it”.

What you love about being a Hoosier? Hmmm, I still identify as a Michigander so I’m not sure. I do love living in Indy though although I miss the water and skiing that Michigan has.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? A forensic pathologist.

Where you want to be in 10 years? 10 years? I’m usually trying to get through the next 10 minutes so 10 years seems like an eternity from now! I’d like happy and healthy kids, a marriage that is just as strong and awesome as it is now, a career that brings me joy, and hopefully a house with a big, fenced in backyard. That’s not too much to hope for, is it?!

My biggest mistake: I think my biggest mistake is one I’m trying to fix right now. When you have a kid with multiple disabilities, you realize that so much is out of your control. Since I’m a Type A personality, I like control and I’ve had to learn to just let go. Each day I’m trying to make it a point to do just that so I suppose my biggest mistake continues to be a work in progress.

Career/Parenting advice you would like to share with other working mamas: My advice is to own who you are. Do not feel guilty because you are a working mama. We are all unique and we have different ways that make us feel fulfilled. Some moms stay home with their children, some moms work, and some moms create their own combined hybrid of the two. You have to do what is best for YOU and YOUR family. I like being a working mom. I enjoy my Monday mornings as I’m listening to music, sipping on my good coffee, and relishing in the time when I’m alone on my commute. I love my children beyond measure, but I also really enjoy helping people for a living. My work brings me happiness and I’m so glad that I don’t feel the need to apologize for it.

Connect with Meredith on LinkedIn.

Follow the Say Hola Lola Facebook page about Lola's journey with Bosch Boonstra Schaaf optic atrophy syndrome.