By Mallorie Ann Ingram

To say the evolution of moms over time has changed a bit in society would be the understatement of the year. We all remember back to some of our favorite moms on classic sitcoms, such as June Cleaver, Carol Brady and Samantha Stephens. These influential women not only showed the world what it means to be a loving mother, but they did it with class. They were the stepping stone expressing the ideal behavior of what the perfect mom looks like. Well, truth be told, not much has changed, or has it?  Compare those moms with the mothers of today and you would see things are better than ever. Women are running corporations, changing people’s lives for the better, all while never losing sight of one of life’s most precious treasures, their children. Yes, that’s right. More than ever, moms are facing life’s hurdles smack dab in the face saying “Bring it on,” while still being a classy, super hero at home. In fact, ask any dedicated mom what she values most in life and every time, you’ll probably get the same answer: the kids. But don’t take our word for it. Some of our local moms have shared with us the secret recipe for building a strong household, as well as some witty tips and tricks to keep their sanity along the way. 

Jennifer LaceyTake Jen Lacey, for instance. With three young children, it’s safe to say she runs a tight ship. After stepping through the front door, she’s immediately greeted with a loving, joyful family, something that’s been taught to each of the kids over the years. 

“Everybody knows you have to walk into the Lacey house with a sense of humor,” she says. Their oldest, Cole, is smart, sensitive, and has a sharp sense of humor which he uses to navigate life with his two little sisters who endlessly adore and needle him at the same time. Then there’s Virginia, their middle child. She’s the spitting image of Jen.“She thinks just like me and I know exactly what she’s going to do next,” Lacey says. “She organizes everybody and tells all of us what to do and we typically listen since she has more common sense than all of us.”

Charlotte, the third born, is the epitome of the youngest child.“She’s just sunshine,” Lacey says. “When she walks into the room, it lights up. She never stops talking. Every thought in that child’s head has to be expressed.”

One of the favorite traditions the Laceys do as a family is on Sunday mornings. They make a huge breakfast and watch a movie together and typically play tennis afterwards. “We all know that Sunday morning is sacred family time,” Lacey says. 

Along with Sunday family time, they enjoy traveling together and helping others. The Laceys raised three kids that truly love helping others. Lacey doesn’t force this mindset on them but instead has allowed them to come to this conclusion on their own. 

“I want them to realize they can make a difference in the world,” Lacey says. “I don’t want my kids to be so self-absorbed,” Lacey says. “The best thing they can do is serve others. That’s going to give them the most satisfaction in life.”

Lacey also says that things aren’t perfect and don’t always go according to plan but the single-most important thing to do is try as a parent. “We just do the best we can in raising them,” Lacey says. “We aren’t model parents or a perfect family but we just live each day and try the hardest we can in teaching and loving our kids.” 

Jennifer SugarmanActually, let’s go back to the beginning days of motherhood and see what Jennifer Sugarman has to say about it. Between her role as President and CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce and a new mom to 15-month old Emmett, she’s got her hands full. 

“It’s important for new moms to understand there is no such thing as a perfect work/life balance,” Sugarman says. “There are just decisions. Every single day is filled with decisions and it’s always tough. Do I put my kid to bed tonight or attend
this meeting?” 

Sugarman is a firm believer in prioritizing and juggling her life to be the best mom to her little “love-bug” her world. 

“I think we live in an era of trying to be everywhere at once and there’s a stigma around that,” Sugarman says. “If there’s anything that having my son has taught me, it’s that it’s ok to say no and that you have to prioritize.”

One of their favorite things they love doing together is playing outside, visiting animals, people-watching, and wearing Florida Gator attire. Sugarman’s been going to Gator football games since she was “knee-high to a duck” and guarantees it’s only a matter of time before Emmett will be there too. 

“He’s such a people person,” Sugarman says. “He waves at everybody.” 

What’s the favorite day of the week for this family? Sunday Funday. Sugarman and her husband typically have Sundays off together so, they enjoy waking up together, making breakfast and going exploring. 

“His favorite thing is the playground,” Sugarman says. “He’s obsessed with the swings and the slide.” 

Sugarman is in love with this stage of new motherhood and calls it the “potato stage.” 

“In the beginning, he was just this little sack of potatoes, you could put him anywhere and cuddle,” Sugarman says. “Now that potato has sprouted legs and he’s keeping me busy! He definitely has two dedicated parents that love him very much.” 

Karina RodriguezThen there are the influential and slightly intimidating teenage years. Not to worry. Karina Rodriguez certainly has her household covered from A to Z. Mother of four boys, all teenagers, aside from the oldest in his 20s, it’s no surprise she recognizes the importance of being a supportive mom. 

“It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun,” Rodriguez says. “I’m the only woman in the house, even the dog is male, but I love it.”

This mom absolutely loves being outside and involved in sports with the boys. She said God certainly knew what He was doing giving her all boys. 

“Our boys have to play sports,” Rodriguez says. “They didn’t grow up playing video games, so what else are they going to be doing with their time after school?” 

Life isn’t perfect but even in all the chaos of it, she considers her faith to be her saving grace.

“We try to figure it out every day and see what works,” Rodriguez says. “God is the center focus in our family and it’s what we teach our kids.” 

As a family, they love family time involved with lacrosse games.

“Lacrosse has always brought us together because the kids always played it,” Rodriguez says. “Since we’ve only been in the area about five years, this is how we were able to meet other families and build relationships and is why we still love it.” 

Jackie GriffinWhat happens when the kids are all grown up? For Real Estate Brokerage/Company Owner, Jackie Griffin, things just keep getting better. In fact, she has made it point to raise all three of her children with an important philosophy. 

“Don’t be afraid of trying what you are passionate about,” Griffin says. “If it’s in your heart to do it, work hard for it, and you will be successful.”

Griffin is mom to a thriving local-entrepreneur family. Her daughter, Christina, runs the real estate business with her, her son Dennis is founder of Core Surf, and Brian her oldest son is a pilot that recently kick-started his own real estate company, as well.  

“I encourage them to chase their dreams and I’ll do whatever I can to support them,” Griffin says. 

When Griffin was young, she remembered a lot of moms in the neighborhood didn’t work. It was a very different environment. However, when she became a mom, more than 75% of moms were working. This created a deepening guilt and stigma that she wasn’t truly there for her kids. That’s why she made it a point that when she was with them, it was true quality time. Her number one goal was to teach them how to be independent, confident, and make memories.

“When my kids became young adults, I was shocked to hear their true opinion of how I did as a working mother. I was surprise to hear that they were extremely proud of my accomplishments and what it had taught them,” Griffin says. “My daughter said ‘mom, I can tackle anything, because I’ve watched you do it.’” 

This showed Griffin that all of those years juggling motherhood and career paid off with her children, in hindsight Griffin firmly believes that being a strong example for your child is an invaluable teaching lesson for them. Always be there for them, lift them up and encourage them. In fact, this mother-daughter team run the real estate business together. How do they do that? Easy. 

“We have a great deal of respect for each other,” Griffin says. “My daughter runs her part of the company and I don’t get in her way, no micro managing.” 

So how do you stay close and connected with adult children? Over the years, the Griffins have carried a important tradition of traveling and creating memories together. It’s always been a major focus of Griffin to give her kids the opportunity of adventure. From skiing in Colorado, to one of Griffin’s favorite trips, fishing in Alaska, they make it a point to find new adventures as a family and they cherish their time together.◆