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6 Charlotte moms making a difference while raising the next generation

There's no getting around the fact that being a mother is a tough gig, but it is also known for being the greatest. In honor of all hard working moms, we decided to put a list together to recognize a few of the many inspiring moms in Charlotte and how they're making a difference in our community while raising the next generation.

Andie Judson

Published: 3/21/2018 9:30:11 AM
Updated: 7:34 AM EDT March 25, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- People say being a mother is a full time job. It's actually much, much more than that.

A new study confirms what every mom knows - that motherhood is actually the equivalent of working two and a half full-time jobs.

The juice company Welch's conducted a survey by following the schedule of 2,000 American mothers with children between ages of five and 12. The study found the average mom "clocks in" at 6:23 a.m. and "clocks out" at 8:31 p.m. (with no breaks). By the numbers, that's a total of a 14 hour shift, seven days a week equal to two and a half full time jobs.

The study also showed mothers typically only get time to themselves for an hour and seven minutes each day.

There's no getting around the fact that being a mother is a tough gig, but it is also known for being the greatest. In honor of all hard working moms, we decided to put a list together to recognize a few of the many inspiring moms in Charlotte and how they're making a difference in our community while raising the next generation.

1. Jenn Andrews

For 33-year-old Jenn Andrews, a simple trip to the spa ended in a way she never imagined. The mother of two was pregnant with her first child and decided to treat herself to a pedicure.

"The woman doing the pedicure noticed I had a small pea-sized nodule on my right foot, and you could only see it when you were massaging," Andrews said. After delivering her baby via c-section, Andrews was focused on recovering and raising a child. She dismissed the nodule until her second pregnancy, when the lump began to grow.

"It went from a pea-sized to almost a golf ball on top of my foot."

Andrews said she was completely blind sided when she went to the doctor with her two little ones in tow and learned she had sarcoma, a cancerous tumor of connective tissue. After a long fight, with fearful check-ups every month, Jen made a bold decision to have a completely cancer free life.

"I asked him (the doctor) if I didn't want to deal with this a gain - what was my best course of action? His response was one that I never expected to hear. It was to eliminate my foot," Andrews said. "I'm not going to miss out on my kids over my foot. It's not worth it."

Andrews made the difficult decision and earlier in March, had her foot amputated. But to anyone who knows this mother, it's not surprise she's facing the challenge head-on.

"I felt a sense of relief that this is over, I'm cancer-free," Andrews said. Doctors said she’d be in the hospital for two to five days. But by day two, she was out of there. When the wheelchair came to her room, she politely declined. “I’m like nope!” Andrews said. “I walked in here. I’m going to walk out of here.”

Andrews has been inspiring others with her positive outlook. The day of her surgery, she asked that everyone get outdoors and move for her and all of those who cannot but wish they could. She says her first goal is to walk unassisted in her prosthetic for her birthday on May 12. At the end of the year she plans to run a 5K.

“I’m probably going to cry a lot when that’s over,” Andrews said.

An unfortunate situation but ever the optimist, she’s taking the good with the bad.

“This has kind of opened up a whole new door that I never even knew existed to help a lot of people,” Andrews said. “That’s the silver lining.”

2. Vi Lyles

Along with being a grandmother herself, Vi Lyles could be considered the Queen City's current "mother." Charlotte's 59th mayor was sworn in December 2016 and is the first African American woman to occupy the post in the city's history.

Lyles has said her proudest accomplishment is being a mother. She has two children, 36-year-old Kwame and 34-year-old Aisha, and is a grandmother to Aryah and Hailey.

Mayor Lyles grew up in the south, and graduated from Queens University. Along with dedicating her life to raising her children, Lyles has continued to dedicate herself to the service of the city. She continues to be a beacon of strength for women in the Charlotte area.

"We want to promote a safe and productive environment for women," Lyles said during a speech at the Women's March. She also gained admiration after winning the mayoral election without going negative with her campaign.

3. Krystle Baller

Forget twinkle, twinkle little star! Charlotte music teacher, former rocker, entrepreneur, and mother Krystle Baller is instilling some serious music knowledge in the next generation.

Baller is the owner of Pachyderm Music Lab which provides music lessons, group classes, kids camps, and workshops to kids and adults like. One of her classes, aptly titled "Baby Punk" is a children's music class that highlights different bands each week. Prior classes have featured Nirvana, Bob Marley, White Stripes, The Beatles, Weezer, Sublime and more. It's all a part of Baller's effort to instill a sense of self into the children, as well as have their parents enjoy the classes a bit more (and don't worry - Baller replaces a kazoo with lyrics).

"It's okay to be themselves because you can be loud. There's no sit still, pay attention, it's not that kind of classroom. I'm encouraging them to be free," Baller said. "To be themselves. There's no normal... being weird is normal. It's okay to have fun and let your freak flag fly."

Baller also brings these beliefs to Girls Rock Charlotte and Lady Rock Stars.

She serves as Girls Rock Charlotte's Music Director. The non-profit is dedicated to empowering girls ages 10 to 16 and gender diverse youth through musical education and finding their confidence through using their voice. Meanwhile, Lady Rock Stars is a group that meets up multiple times a month to help empower women musical groups.

4. Katherine Fuchs

Charlotte mother Katherine Fuchs not only tends to her own kids, she also cares for the woman who once cared for her.

These days, Fuchs is spending a lot of time between Charlotte and Asheville. It's a trip she has been making since her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011. The heartbreaking news came to Fuchs as she was taking care of her newborn baby.

"It was devastating," Fuchs said. "I wanted her to be that grandmother that would come play with my kids and be here as they aged."

She's not alone. Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's of dementia. Besides serving as caretaker, her mother's diagnosis has made Fuchs change her life in other ways.

"It's made me really appreciate my parents and everything they did for me," Fuchs said. "I wish I could tell her that now. Just knowing the kind of mother she was just trying to make me be a better mother."

"Let's let that mess be on the floor," Fuchs said. "Let's crank up the music and be silly. Let's have cake for breakfast ya know sometimes you just need those moments that my kids will hopefully remember."

Fuchs has also worked on sharpening her own mind, in hopes of avoiding the disease, as well as developed a wonderful community support group through her blog.

5. Emily Breeze Ross Watson

A Charlotte mother who gained national attention in 2016 is continuing to spread inspiration for fellow moms.

Emily Breeze Ross Watson went viral after posting a video of her working out while very pregnant. The video garnered both applause and criticism which launched Watson into the national spotlight, including an appearance on the Today Show.

"It was incredible. He was in my belly, so he was along for the ride," Watson said. "Just to be able to show people what our bodies are capable of and trusting your health and fitness and how important it is while pregnant."

With her now-toddler Bly, Watson has continued to incorporate him into her workouts, showing mothers that you never have to sacrifice self-care. Now, Watson is now pregnant with baby number two, and she's still at it. She said her most asked question is simply, how do you do it?

"Honestly, I'm just incorporating all of my people into my lifestyle, so my little son he definitely works out with me, my husband, you know, and we do things at home."

6. Anne Hill

Unemployment, abuse, and tragedy are just a few of the obstacles one group of Charlotte moms were once faced with.

“We are all moms from different walks of life, but we are all in the same motherhood journey together,” said Anne Hill, founder of the “We are Supermoms Foundation.”

Hill’s journey wasn’t easy.

“I was married for six years and had a tumultuous marriage,” Hill said. “And while I was going through my divorce, I was very depressed and looking for things of encouragement.”

The mother of two found solace in social media. And it was the Instagram account she created that quickly evolved into a nonprofit organization called the Supermoms Foundation.

“I dug deep and realized I had this strength within and from there it inspired me to encourage other moms who are going through similar struggles,” Hill explained. Anne’s foundation shares stories like Jordan’s, a mom who is overcoming a miscarriage, and Frances, who says she learned to love and trust again after escaping an abusive relationship. And then there’s Kim, a mother of five, who says she hit rock bottom, but never gave up and is now a successful entrepreneur. Just one small idea sparking dozens of inspiring women to come together, juggling their careers and their children.

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