Designer And Activist Dee Hilfiger Reveals What It's Like Raising Three Children on The Autism Spectrum.
Dee Hilfiger is the mother/stepmother of seven children and is married to Tommy Hilfiger (an Icon in American Fashion and pioneer in stylish adaptable clothing for children and adults with disabilities). She is also on the board of Autism Speaks, the Creative Director of Judith Leiber, and oversees her lifestyle Brand, Dee Ocleppo. What we admire most about our friend is her positivity and ability to do it all so gracefully while keeping family first.
5 words that describe your “job":
Wife, mother, personal assistant, psychologist, and IT expert!
Your children's names and ages:
Alex 23-years-old , Julian 20-years-old, Sebastian 8-years-old, old and stepchildren, Ally 31-years-old ,Richard 27-years-old, Elizabeth 24-years-old and Kathleen 22-years-old.
Alex, Kathleen, and Sebastian all have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
How do your children inspire you?
My children inspire me in so many ways. They inspire me to wake up every morning and be the best I can be. They inspire me to be a much more patient, accepting, and loving human being.
They inspire me to be even more curious about the world we live in.
They inspire me to be strong and most importantly they inspire me not to take for granted the simple things in life.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Alex, Kathleen, and Sebastian?
I think I would just have to say how purely sweet and joyful our special needs children are. They are all so wonderfully and completely different from one another! I never actually think of them as special needs ...I just think of them as my children. They are so full of love and completely void of any unkind intent or viciousness. They tend to be your happiest children and don’t get bogged down in the day to day meaningless minucia of life.
However, at the same time, this innocence is exactly what makes them our most vulnerable children.
What is an activity your whole family loves to do together?
Our family really enjoys our ski vacations together. Mostly because we have a chance to really spend quality time with one another as well as be outdoors and active. We have a very large and diverse family and we also love to tease one another, especially around the dinner table.... sometimes it can be a tough crowd, but at the end of the day we love one another deeply.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting?
I find a glass of wine, a hot bath, and eight hours of sleep always helps!
What is the one thing in your play space your kids can't live without?
My child’s play table and chairs that I bought at Pottery Barn ages ago!
What's the one thing you would drive back to get if you forgot it when out with your kid(s)?
The iPad hands down!
Sabastian's favorite toy?
Sabastian's favorite app?
Sebastian’s favorite app is Angry Birds and YouTube.
Clothing item Sabastian would wear every day if he could?
He doesn’t try to wear it every day… but he loves this old, over washed T-shirt that he colored himself and it is way too small but I am absolutely terrified to throw it out!
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy?
I would have to say my new Nespresso machine! (as well as a pair of new sparkly sneakers!)
3 people you follow on social media that inspire you and why?
Christie Brinkley, Kris Jenner, and Yolanda Hadid. I love following these inspirational moms mostly because I admire and respect their unwavering positivity, their abundant patience, and the wonderful and loving relationships they have forged with their children… All while working. They seem to have mastered taking care of themselves and their families
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs parent?
My advice would be make sure you are OK first. You cannot be terrific Mom if you are too stressed out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and keep calm and carry on!
What quote do you live by?
I don’t live by one single quote, I live by many quotes !....but among my favorites are.
” Live life every day like it’s your last, because one day you will you will be right!”...
and a quote by Rose Kennedy who said “I have always believed that God never gives a cross to bear larger than we can carry. No matter what, he wants us to be happy, not sad. Birds sing after a storm, why shouldn’t we?