Profession: Mom & Emergency Room Nurse
Jody Bargetti, originally from Massachusetts, is a single mom with three kids: 16-year-old Safina, 13-year-old Aaron, and 6-year-old Ava. Safina is a sophomore at Viera High. Aaron goes to McNair Magnet School in Rockledge, and “my little one goes to Suntree Elementary,” Bargetti says. An emergency room nurse at Holmes Regional Medical Center, Bargetti knows a good bit about stress, but has always been able to “just shut it off” when she gets home. Working 12-hour shifts makes for long days and nights, and her kids are often, reluctantly, already asleep when she gets home. “Once I get in my car it’s all gone. I’ve always been like that. I don’t bring anything home with me. Some people can’t do that but I’m a very black-and-white person, so I can just shut it off.” She worries some people might think she’s just an awful parent. “I hope they pick up that I’m a nurse. When I’m at games with my little one and I don’t react… they must know that I’m a nurse. Because I don’t react when she gets bumped with the ball or hits the floor.” Bargetti says she’s lucky to have her mother’s help. “She gets the work I do. She retired from HRMC. She was the radiology director there for years. I have her help and understanding.” Free time with her kids means going to festivals and the zoo. “We love going to the movies. It’s nice now that the little one is at an age where I can take her to the movies and she won’t talk through the whole thing!” Bargetti says. “I also just bought a house. I realized I hadn’t mowed a lawn in about five or six years and I have this lawnmower sitting in my garage and I have a son! He and I were looking at that mower the other day, and I said to him, ‘I haven’t used this in a while so you and I are going to learn together.’”
Profession: Mom, Public Affairs Manager, Waste Management Inc., of Florida
Making a space for another child was a no-brainer for Dina Reider-Hicks, even after she had borne her first, Christopher, four months after her husband passed from a heart attack in 2002. Completing the pregnancy while grieving her loss filled Dina with purpose. She knew what she’d do when the time was right.
“We never wanted Chris to be an ‘only.’”
Adoption. Research. Options. Russia. Planes. Trains. Disappointment. Hope. More planes. Mountains of paperwork. Heartbreak. Phone calls. Emails. More paperwork. Two trips to Russia.
Along the way, Dina Reider fell in love with a colleague. Together they travelled extensively in Russia, finally to Kirov, in central Russia to bring Alex home. That colleague was Steven Hicks, who happens to be SpaceCoast Living’s Senior Editor.
Little Vitaliy Mikhailovich Chervyakov, now Alexander Steven, a toddler, was just 2. Head full of long dark curls. Big bright eyes. Curious. As much needed as in need. They both said “I do” and the three of them (Dina, Chris and Alexander), were now one family.
In 2008, with Alexander 11 and Chris 14 at their sides, Dina and Steven married and four became one.
Profession: Mom & Teacher
It was a gradual realization that took months to germinate, but the harvest it sowed will have lifelong benefits for Jenna Meier and her family. As a busy, working mom of three, Meier said she fell into the habit of many moms: “I tried to make life easier and that meant fast meals and easy snacks on the go,” she said.
As time went on, Meier started to think about how those choices were affecting the family’s health. After reading and learning about food and health, Meier quickly changed how she fed her family, going from [quick meals and frozen meats] to homemade meals from scratch.
Meier said she also started practicing yoga at this time as a way to “settle myself and my children.” She shares her experiences and knowledge with her students at the West Melbourne School of Science, where she was offered a position as a garden teacher and jumped at the chance.
The results have been positive. Meier hears back from parents and students regularly about things they are doing to make healthier choices, and it makes her happy. “Starting this garden and teaching nutrition to the students has given me the opportunity to reach more lives and help others. I also started a yoga club at the school which really helps students relieve the stress of their school day.”
With the daily stressors mitigated, Meier finds time to be more present with her children, watching them grow into the people they are becoming. And although she sometimes struggles with “letting go,” she knows it’s for the best. “The most important lesson I have learned is to let my children be who they are meant to be. As much as I want to help make their lives perfect, I have to step back and let them unfold into who they are meant to be.”
Profession: Mom & Benefits Services Manager
When she’s not busy coordinating the schedules of young daughters Mackenzie, 14, and Keira, 8, Michelle Bronson divides time between her job as a benefits service manager for Aon Service Corporation, a leading global provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage and human capital consulting, her husband Craig Bronson, vice president of business development and IT at House of Lights in Melbourne, and an active lifestyle on the Space Coast.
She credits her daughters with helping her better understand the art of logistics and creative thinking. “I’ve brought that into my career by using ‘logistics’ to organize my time, and creative thinking to solve challenging issues at work,” she said.
When Craig and the girls are home and it’s family night, board games are the activity of choice. Bronson recalls stories of fierce competitions around the Monopoly board and their youngest daughter running the game. “My younger daughter, who was 7 at the time, was smoking all of us! She was buying all the properties and we all owed her money.”
With a mother’s pride, Bronson clearly loves her roles as mother, wife, friend, problem solver, guidance counselor, cheerleader, but it’s not one size fits all, she says.
“I’ve [also] learned that each child is different and it’s important to recognize them individually for their strengths and help them work through their differences.”
Profession: Mom & Entertainer, Singer, Performer
When Sybil Gage takes the stage, a quick scan around the venue where she’s performing reveals the genuine appreciation and anticipation for what is coming next: soulful storytelling with a silky voice, songs from another era about romance, juke joints, jazz clubs, and tough luck.
Her perspective – through her music and thinking back to when she raised her son, Jay – is equally as soulful. “I took a hiatus from entertaining and spent most of my time writing and recording during Jay’s childhood. I adamantly did not want to perform at that time, preferring to focus on motherhood and having Jay be the center of my attention,” she said.
Though he now works as a marketing executive in Manhattan, Gage and her son remain close and in touch. She watched him grow into a strong, educated young man and is melancholy thinking back to some of his many accomplishments.
“I was in tears when he received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell and his master’s from Columbia. I was so pleased when he took his first trips to Paris, London, Rome, Prague, Peru, Reykjavik, Tokyo, Berlin, Capetown and Brazil…He always wanted to travel and he has fulfilled that dream so fully and lives a beautiful life,” she said.
Gage performs locally at Heidi’s Jazz Club on Thursday nights, and at jazz and blues events around the state and the country. For more information, visit online at www.sybilgage.com for performance schedule, recordings and more.
Mara Uman Hixon
Profession: Mom, Surfer, Author
Mara Uman Hixon is a single mom living in Melbourne Beach raising her two kids, Izzy and Max. Izzy is 15 and Max is 10. In the true spirit of a surf mom, she tells us what a big part the sea has played in her life, and her kids’ lives as well.
“I was raised partly in Cocoa Beach. My father worked at NASA. I spent a lot of time on the beach, and that is where I learned to surf,” Hixon said. Her parents wanted her to play tennis, but she wanted to surf. She surfed in high school, in ESA (Eastern Surfing Association) and NSSA (National Scholastic Surfing Association) events, and was on the University of Florida Surf Team. “I was the number one woman surfer, and captain of the women’s team.” She still surfs regularly, and has even survived a shark bite on her leg. “Surfed all over the world. Hawaii, Australia, Barbados, Mexico — you name it, I probably surfed there, and I get bit here in Florida!
“My kids? They both love the beach. We live in Mel Beach, and just walk across the street to the beach. We all surf there. My son prefers a boogie board, but my daughter and I paddle out together, we come in together. It’s a lot of good one-on-one time with her. It is really good bonding for all three of us. Every weekend we take four-mile walks. When it’s cold or there are no waves, we still go on our four-mile walk. It is about the peace, the calm. After you surf and you come in, or even if you’re a little bit sunburnt and salty. You take a shower and you just feel calm,” Hixon said.
“My kids’ values come from the ocean. We love the sea turtles. Oh, gosh, I can’t tell you how many birds we’ve rescued off the beach, and sea turtles. Sea Turtles are my passion, I write books about them and donate a portion of all proceeds to sea turtle conservation. Hixon says they focus on each other and they focus on nature. “That’s what we’re all about.”