After a week off for visiting family, I bring to you our fourth Mom in the Raleigh/Knightdale area. Her name is Martha Smith and she is a married Mom to 2 girls ages 10 (Nikki) and 13 (Caity). Martha works at a local grocery store as a Customer Service Leader. She is the one that makes sure everything at the registers goes smoothly and also handles returns and complaints any customers may have. Martha also interacts with all customers that want to be the next millionaire since she makes sure your Powerball and other lottery tickets are done.
While she is at work she has family members that help with the children as well as a case worker through the Client Assistance Program. Martha finds her challenges to be actual conversations with Caity and volunteering at the school like she used to. When she can pick up her daughter from school is when the conversations flow. She is 13 after all. She will talk and talk in the car but if Martha gets home from work and asks how her day was she will get the ever popular answer of a tween, “fine” or “good”. Those with tweens can empathize on that statement I’m sure! Because of work, Martha misses out on Award Days and other school events that happen. Martha says it is sometimes hard to find someone to watch them when they get sick if she find a replacement at work.
Martha tries to treat her kids the way she wanted to be treated when she was a kid. Growing up, her parents were very strict and protective of her which she tries to hold off on a little. Her husband grew up in a very open family where all questions were answered and no subject was taboo. His freedom to make his own decisions was also very different from Martha’s upbringing. Since they both grew in extremely opposite ways, they try to bring the two together in a happy mix. They give their children “what if” scenarios that are age appropriate and then discuss what to do and give advice on those situations.
Sometimes those scenarios can be rather difficult for her 10 year old daughter, Nikki. Nikki was diagnosed with autism when she was three and a half. When she was a toddler it was rather frustrating because Nikki didn’t use any speech to communicate which is very common in children with autism. The frustration didn’t win out though; Martha and her husband used pictures to communicate things she wanted eat, do or how she felt. Another common trait is the lack of social skills and restrictive or repetitive behavior. Since Martha was concerned with Nikki’s social skills, she would set up play dates and has received great assistance from the School System as well as the services of Client Assistance Program (CAP).
Two years ago Martha started Nikki on a gluten free and casein free diet as well as a vitamin regiment. Casein is the protein that is found in milk and cheese and is sometimes confused with lactose intolerance. Martha says that Nikki has progressed very well but when she was younger it was not always a smooth road. Caity would get upset that her younger sister could get away with things she couldn’t and got more attention than her. Caity also thought it was unfair that Nikki didn’t have to do some things that she had to do like chores. But now that they are both older there is a better understanding and Caity is not as frustrated with her younger sister. Martha says that Nikki reminds them of every birthday and holiday coming up. Nikki has also tried to show her world as she sees it to her family which has been very enlightening. And since Martha has been accused of living in her own little world away from the rest of the world the experience has been profound.
Martha relieves stress by exercising and has her own little side job sewing purses for people. (www.marthasfabricpurses.com) She also enjoys movies and visiting with family and friends. Her biggest fear besides seeing her children pass away before her, is that she won’t have a close relationship with them when they are adults and move out. She also hopes they will never smoke since it was the hardest thing for her to give up.
The advice she would give her daughters is to enjoy the ages they are now and cherish all the memories they have. Don’t try to plan your life away and live in the moment because you can’t change the past.
I have known Martha since I moved to Knightdale in 2007 but it was only the last couple of years where I have really gotten to know her. My husband always expects my Sunday trips to the Supermarket to last two hours because he knows I end up talking to Martha and some of the other staff there. When we go in on a non-shopping day for items we need and see Martha there and she always has a smile and is always making sure the front of the store is operating as it should be. She makes my Sunday mornings start off on a happy note even if I haven’t had enough sleep or I am grumpy. Martha brings that friendly vibe to the supermarket and makes it feel more like I live in a neighborhood than just being a customer.
So if you live in Knightdale and go to Lowe’s Foods, say “Hi” to Martha and smile. Just like all of us, she is a working Mom that could use some friendly faces around her and make her workplace a little more enjoyable. If only all of us could always see friendly faces maybe we wouldn’t dread Mondays as much.