As moms, we are always looking for reasons to stay motivated. And let’s face it – with our busy schedules, this is no easy task. This weeks Featured Mom takes Momtivation (as she calls it) to a whole new level. This proud homeschooling mother, international speaker, and bestselling author, and philanthropist came from poverty, lost a lot along the way, and still managed to keep her head down and intentions clear – all while creating change for moms everywhere. An absolute inspiration for moms all over the world, we give you Elayna Fernandez aka “The Positive Mom“.
I was born and raised in poverty in the Dominican Republic. We didn’t have many financial privileges, but we had the freedom to be ourselves, to dream, and to pursue our dreams.
When I was 7 years old, while searching for treasures in the trash (we lived right by a ravine that was used by the locals as a dumpster), I found a special clue to my destiny: an old Highlights magazine. I saw pictures of children playing with shiny toys, wearing jeans…it was exciting and I knew at that moment, in the middle of filth and stench, that I was meant to be more, do more, and have more… I was meant to experience that joy and abundance in my life. I decided that in order to live that life, I had to learn English. I could not understand all the words.
In the next few months, my brother and I anxiously awaited for our special unknown friends to throw away their used magazines so we could pick them up and live that life through our imagination. We pretended to read them and we invented stories, guessing what was happening. Concurrently, I started my first business in order to raise funds for my newfound goal: I had found out they actually taught English classes at the local university and you could enroll at any age – my perfect opportunity!
Each night, after the usual electric black out (very common in underdeveloped countries, and especially in low-income neighborhoods), I would gather all the kids and relate the Highlights stories to them in the form of a cardboard puppet theater- for a fee, of course! I was on a mission!
By the time I was 11, I had gathered enough money to pursue my dream and by the time I was 15, I was actually teaching English to others, as well.
Knowing how to speak English and having a 4.0 average in college landed me the chance to participate in the Work and Travel program, and in 1999, I traveled to the United States for the first time. It was a fun Summer and I learned a lot, had a world of fun, and, naturally, I worked and traveled. It was then that I met the man who, after a 2 year long distance relationship, would become my husband.
In December of 2001, after a lot of pondering and with great sorrow, I left my paid-for elegantly condo, my successful corporate career, my friends, and my cherished family to move to California with my husband of 7 months. I soon became pregnant with Elisha, and soon after she was born, Elyssa was conceived.
I had traveled a few times, so I never really suffered from cultural shock, but I do get homesick and miss my family!
My life was quite different as a stay-at-home military wife, especially while he was deployed. I was happy to be a mom, but I knew deep inside I wasn’t truly happy with my marriage and my now co-dependent lifestyle.
What is it like raising your girls in Dallas, TX?
We haven’t lived in Dallas for a long time. We lived in Florida for 7 years, which was most of their childhood. I am grateful that, while I never lived the Highlights magazine life, I have been able to provide it as a single mom to my daughters!
Let’s go back a few years. Can you talk to me a bit about your divorce?
The divorce itself was a gift I celebrated, after two and a half years of separation. It was an October night in 2004, just a few weeks after our cross country move to Florida, that I woke up in the middle of the night to find my husband’s surprise farewell letter. I knew this relationship was not healthy for me, but I wasn’t ready to let it go. At the time, the girls were barely 1 and 2, we were staying in a tiny efficiency, and I had no income, no money, no car, or knew how to drive!
The irony of it all is that knowing English is the only thing I really had “going for me.”