Mom + Friends: Meet Rachel Fox Kipphut, A Differently-Abled Advocate + Mama Of Three.

5 words that describe your "job": Artist, Wife, Mother of 3, Design Enthusiast & Professional "Pinterest-er." My "Real Job" is Advertising Director and Blogger For Babiekins magazine.

Your children's names + ages: Eva Lousie Age 4, Elsie Brynn Age 3, Ethan Fox Age 7 Months

Where do you live? Raleigh, North Carolina

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Eva? Eva is capable of learning and accomplishing anything!  I really enjoy the phrase "differently-abled" because I think that really helps others to understand that she just may do things " a little differently" at times. Children with Down Syndrome ( Trisomy 21) learn at a slower place, it doesn't mean they can't or won't be able to learn or accomplish things!  As a former art teacher and now special needs parent, I think that people today put too much pressure on our kids to meet standards and milestones. Let your child grow and develop as they should because all kids learn and grow differently. Acknowledge their weaknesses but focus on their strengths and let them try new things. We were hesitant to put Eva in dance class at 2.5 years old because, at that time, she had just learned to confidently walk by herself.  Since then, Eva has completely blown us away with her capabilities as a dancer and has been attending a dance class with her same age peer group.  She is a natural dancer and she amazes us with her abilities each and every day (not just with dance).  We never expected her to go from barely walking to ballerina as quickly as she did.  She was a dancer of the month at her studio this past October. It's okay to push them a little, they may end up surprising you. 

"Eva is capable of learning and accomplishing anything!  I really enjoy the phrase "differently-abled" because I think that really helps others to understand that she just may do things "a little differently.'"

How do your children inspire you? Eva has taught me that every day is precious. At 6 months old, she had open-heart-surgery. With that came a lot of uncertainty and fear, but through it all, Eva continued to smile. We see her overcome trials and obstacles with a smile on her face every day. Eva can brighten your mood and even turn a bad day around. She helps me to see what is truly important in life when I lose perspective. She also knows how to just chill and relax, and I am not great at relaxing these days. She loves to cozy up in her room or go outside by herself to sit in the sun, read, or work on her journals. I really need to follow her example. Some people think that having a special needs child means they can be behaviorally difficult, and that just isn't true for us. Eva is my angel and Elsie is my wild child. Most days, she challenges us to the limit. Elise knows what she likes, has a lot of personality and a lot of energy. She is also a total goof, fearless and super quirky and  imaginative.  If I had a dime for every time someone told me she'll run a company or be president someday...Maybe they are right? Those tend to be qualities of successful and creative people. I think everyone needs a little Elsie in them. Ethan was a surprise. I didn't really think I could be a mother of three.  What I found is that I have fallen in love with motherhood even more!  He is such a happy and easy baby.  If I could, I would cuddle him all day. Since going from two to three children, I have finally started to acknowledge that I'm fairly good at juggling all that I do. I think as parents we all need to have a little more confidence in ourselves. 
 

What is an activity your whole family loves to do together? We love to spend time outside and explore new places and visit parks. Food also brings us all together.  Whether eating out or at home, the girls really love eating their favorite foods.  They also enjoy family movie night.  They could eat and watch movies all day if we let them.

How do you survive a tough day of parenting? Honestly, with a lot of caffeine. No judging! The kids do go to bed around 7:30 or 8:00 and my husband and I often head up to the bedroom to spend the rest of our night hanging out up there.  I think it's because being downstairs just reminds me of all the chaos that happened earlier in the day.  That and, it reminds me of the things I still need to do.  My bedroom is a decent size space that has become my happy place and place where I can really just relax and not worry about anything.  You will likely find us binge watching shows on Netflix or Hulu.

What is the one thing in your play space Eva can't live without? Art supplies and toys that promote imaginary play. Eva is my little artist and has a collection of sketchbooks and journals that she colors and "writes" in every single day. She fills up every single page. She also really enjoys her play kitchen set and accessories.  Right now she is big on fashion accessories when we aren't looking.  

What's the one thing you can't leave the house without when you are out with your kids? Caffeine, my phone, baby wipes and hand sanitizer ( in that order).  

Eva's favorite toy? Eva's favorite toy is a realistic looking stuffed fox that also is an a hand puppet.  She can't sleep or travel without it.  

Eva's favorite app? Endless Alphabet!  She loves learning how to sound out letters and spell.  It is one of her favorites and has really improved her speech.

Clothing item Eva feels most comfortable in? She really enjoys wearing dresses no matter the place or occasion. You'll often catch her dancing or twirling around in one throughout the course of the day. 

3 Moms you follow on social media that inspire you and why?

@thislittlemiggy , Miggy is a really amazing special needs Mom!  She has three beautiful children, one of which was born with limb differences.  Miggy has been a parent of a differently-abled child a lot longer than I have, and I have learned a lot from her.  I appreciate her honesty, and her perspective on situations based on her experiences with her daughter.  Now that Eva is getting older, she is in more and more social settings where children are starting to realize that Eva may be a little different.  More situations are starting to occur where people or other children may not always understand Eva.  They are sometimes difficult and awkward. Miggy has really taught me how to get through situations as they come, and I am grateful for the knowledge and experiences she shares on Instagram and on her blog.  She also features other special needs Moms too! 

@winkwinkstudio, Suzy is an incredibly talented artist and Mom of three and has a killer sense of humor.  She also has an older brother with Down Syndrome.  I actually had the chance to meet and visit with Suzy in Virginia while we were both pregnant with our third child (and first boys for both us).  She has taught me that no matter what, do what you love to do in life and find time to do it! She also has amazing style and a beautiful home.  She is one of the most real people I know and I love that about her.

@mamaandthetribe / @folkandflora , Priscila is the editor of Babiekins Magazine and mother of three boys.  She also happens to be my boss. It is incredible the way she juggles being a mother, the Babiekins brand, her love of photography and styling, and her lifelong dream of owning her own farm.  

What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy? Clothes that I feel comfortable in. I finally reached a point after having a baby where I can start to feel comfortable in clothes again. Losing weight after a baby is usually a really slow and painful process for me. I recently learned that dresses and skirts are totally my things right now ( when I am very much a t-shirt and jeans type of girl).  Plus, it has been so hot this spring in North Carolina.  Dresses and skirts keep me cool when I am running around with three kids in the sun. 

"There are tons of special needs Moms out there that feel the same as you. Find other special needs moms and get to know them. You will be so glad you did. We are a fun group of gals. TRUST ME."

What advice would you give to a (new) special needs mom? That everything will be okay.  It REALLY will! I wish I could tell them that being a special needs parent is easy, but it isn't.  What I CAN tell them is that I have had the pleasure of meeting many special needs parents over the past five years and across the board, these individuals are strong, compassionate and they generally have an amazing and positive outlook on life! They make great company and siblings of special needs children tend to be great helpers, are extremely caring and truly compassionate.  It's all about perspective.  Most of the time I meet up with other special needs moms, we actually do a lot laughing!  You learn to laugh at your misfortunes because you realize, you're not alone. There are tons of special needs Moms out there that feel the same as you. Find other special needs moms and get to know them. You will be so glad you did. We are a fun group of gals. TRUST ME.

What quote do you live by?“If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

You Can Find Rachel on Instagram.

This story originally ran on May 10, 2017