I don’t quite remember how Yakini and I met, but I think it was at a Build-A-Bear event in NYC. Whatever the circumstances of our initial meeting, she had a lasting impression. First of all, she’s a doctor. As a woman of color and former HS teacher, I was always, and sometimes desperately, on the look out for professional women to whom I could point as proof that our children can be something other than Video Vixens or a Real Housewives of Atlanta. But she is also a triple threat: brains, beauty, and personality. She represents everything that the world tells us is impossible. I instantly became a fan and lurker on her blog. The more I read the more I realized that she and I had a lot in common- like the fact that we both love to dress up for Halloween. Having Yakini here is truly a pleasure. Read our interview with her and see just why she is In the Spotlight.
Dr. Yakini Etheridge was born in South Bend, IN and raised in Maryland. In 2001 she moved to NYC to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology and psychoanalysis, where she met and married her husband, Queens-native Derek Etheridge. They welcomed their first born son, Chase, in January 2009 and are expecting another precious blessing in August 2010. Yakini and Derek are proud Attachment Parents, as they feel it’s the best way to foster the type of relationship they want to have with their children.
Yakini is a big fan of mystery novels, things that sparkle, thrift and consignment store shopping, and the color pink. Simply put, she is a born and bred priss pot! She was raised by a southern mama and dad to be polite and well-mannered, respect her elders, and make people feel as comfortable as possible in her home. Although she no longer resides in the south, these virtues are still very much an important part of her.
Aside from her roles as wife and mom, Yakini is a full-time psychologist at a large hospital in the city. She is also the owner and publisher of The Prissy Mommy Chronicles where she blogs about creating a balanced life as a (self-proclaimed) “girly girl” living in a testosterone-driven, Alpha male-filled home.
Moms of Hue (MOH): What keeps you motivated?
Dr. Yakini Etheridge: Since the birth of our son I can say without doubt that my motivation stems from making my toddler’s face light up with happiness. The first thoughts I have when I wake up, and the last thoughts on my mind before falling asleep, are what I can do to give him a great day and make him laugh? Decisions that I make around my job, decisions we make as a couple, and decisions as a family all revolve around our son, as he truly is the light of our life. And so this thing called Motherhood, I’ve realized, is what gives true meaning and clarity to my life. It’s what motivates me to get up every morning and give each day my best!
Moms of Hue (MOH): How do you organize your life so that you ensure that you get it all done?
Yakini: Very simply: I try not to bite off more than I can chew. This entails setting personal boundaries, for myself as well as with other people, with regards to commitments that I will and will not take on. This has been a work in progress as, once upon a time, I was the proverbial “over-achiever.” It took the birth of my son to realize that it was okay to “slow down” and not do it all – that I could now take off my Energizer Bunny hat, and just put on my Mom cap and enjoy each moment as it comes.
However, when/if I do find myself becoming spread thin (which sometimes happens despite my first resolve), I simply “re-organize” myself by: 1) making To Do lists, 2) prioritizing the items on that list 3) sometimes taking a step back from those items that fall toward the bottom and 4) not being shy about asking for help when I need it (which took some growth on my part, as I’ve always been fiercely independent, and asking for help never came easily). Through these efforts I’m usually able to accomplish all that I need done, without sacrificing those things which are most important to me.
Moms of Hue (MOH): What lessons do you hope your kids will learn from you as they watch you work?
Yakini: My mom instilled a very important mantra that still rings in my head today: “Work First, Play Second.” So very simple, but I find that when you take the time to do the things that aren’t so “fun” first, you free yourself (physically and mentally) for the things that are more pleasurable. The more you practice this, the more easily it comes. As a child, that meant homework before play, as a teenager it meant chores before phone time, as a young adult it meant term papers before socializing, and today it means (once my son is asleep) doing my cooking/housework before allowing myself the luxury of the internet and Tivo. I hope Chase learns this very important lesson from me, as I think he’ll find that it makes his life that much easier and ultimately richer.
Moms of Hue (MOH): Who is your biggest supporter and why?
Yakini: This is hard for me as I feel tremendously supported by family, including my mom, dad, and three sisters. However, on a daily basis, my greatest source of support comes from my husband, who is my #1 cheerleader. He may not always understand the intricately-woven, eccentric creature that is me, but he nonetheless tries to support my endeavors in any way that he can – from helping me with my grueling dissertation collection to facilitating our home/work schedules in a way that allows me to enjoy certain blogger events/programs he knows I’m excited about. He was one of the few husbands at Blogalicious 2009 because he knew how badly I wanted to be there, yet realized I wasn’t yet ready to leave our son behind, and also didn’t feel comfortable leaving him with child care staff available at the conference. So he traveled to Atlanta with me and enjoyed his role as Mr. Nanny in the hotel room while I attended plenary sessions, socials, and enjoyed myself – with nary a complaint.
Moms of Hue (MOH): What advice do you have for other Moms of Hue trying to raise children and maintain positive values?
Yakini: I recently blogged about “Sticking to Your Values as a New Mom” and was amazed by the overwhelming response that I got. Apparently, other new moms have also struggled with holding their ground with respect to certain issues [around their child] due to outside criticisms and negative feedback. With that said, my advice to other moms of hue, trying to raise children while also maintaining values they hold dear to their heart, is never to waiver in what you feel is right. As moms, new and old, I think we sometimes struggle with feeling self-conscious about the choices we’ve made. However I firmly believe that, when sticking with what you feel is in the best interest of your child(ren) you can’t go wrong. Whether you’ve chosen to enforce a bedtime, limit sugar intake, cloth diaper, make the decision to home school…. there will always be folks giving you their input and telling you why you’re wrong. Well, I encourage moms to remain steadfast in their values and not allow such naysayers, while good-intentioned, to sway you from what you and your partner have determined is best for your little ones.