Multitasking mothers deserve praise, recognition

They changed our diapers, chauffeured us around town and managed to love us through our least likeable moments. Despite everything they do, mothers receive only one official day of recognition per year. To add to the celebration, The Examiner is honoring Bay Area mothers. We’ve thrown the spotlight on a sampling of mothers, revealing them to be the superheroes that they are  —  mothers who not only give unceasingly to their children, but also have contributed to our community, the world and to their professions. — Michael Aldax

Ingrid Carney

The 42-year-old San Francisco mother turned her pregnancy seven years ago into a blooming business. When her pants wouldn’t zip up under her belly, Carney desperately searched for a solution and inadvertently invented the BellaBand, a wrap-around elastic waistband that is now sold in stores throughout the country.

Carney, who is the mother of Isabel, 6, and Sasha, 3, keeps her children close by. She opened her business, named Ingrid & Isabel, on Fillmore Street to be close to her oldest daughter’s school. Carney, who has experience in marketing and art, uses her skills to help with her children’s school fundraisers.

She said running both a business and a family is hard work, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

“Women want to do so many things and you just get to a point where you need to make choices,” she said. “You sometimes have to say no, and you just can’t feel guilty about it. But for the things you choose to do, enjoy it.”

Carney said the most important thing she is able to do on Mother’s Day is sleep in. Her husband and children usually bring her breakfast in bed and her husband takes her on a date that evening. — Sasha Vasilyuk

Debbie Smyser

The Pacifica resident spends her evenings and weekends piling instant oatmeal, candy and DVDs into boxes, and the mother of three now finds the activity among the most important and rewarding in her life.

Smyser’s 22-year-old son is serving in Iraq — his second deployment to a combat zone in three years. Early in her son’s first deployment, Smyser and a handful of other military mothers started meeting to support one another.

It didn’t take long before they decided to start making care packages for their children, and since then their operation has expanded. The group members now call themselves Pacifica Military Moms, and will send packages to anyone they hear might need one.

“We’ve probably sent [3,000 or 4,000] care packages,” she said.

The single mother said her son decided to join the military when he was a freshman in high school. She said she thought it was a phase he’d get over, but four years later, he told her he was joining the Army.

“They know what they’re doing,” she said. “This is the career they chose, so you support them.”

Katie Worth

Julie Lucchesi

The San Bruno native might have setthe record for most Mother’s Day cards received. Lucchesi, who now lives on the coastside, adopted her daughter, Danielle, after she was born prematurely with the neurological disorder cerebral palsy. Danielle weighed just 2 pounds at birth.

After the adoption, Lucchesi founded a school on the border of Millbrae and San Bruno for Danielle and other local kids with the disorder. The school recently closed, but during its seven years of operation helped hundreds of kids from as far as the East Coast receive six-hour days of special education and exercise to overcome their disorders.

Now, 14-year-old Danielle, who must use a wheelchair, is earning straight A’s because of the special education. She recently chose to attend Capuchino High School in San Bruno in the fall after being accepted into the prestigious private Mercy High School in Burlingame.

Luchessi adopted Danielle as her only child with her ex-husband after several years of infertility.

“This child’s done so much for me,” she said. “It was just sort of meant to be. It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.”

Mike Rosenberg

Mother’s Day facts and trivia

The driving force behind Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis</a>, who organized observances in Grafton, W. Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. As the annual celebration became popular across the country, Jarvis asked members of Congress to set aside a day to honor mothers. She finally succeeded in 1914, when Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

By the numbers

82.8 million Estimated number of mothers in the United States in 2004

55 Percentage of women 15 to 44 years old who are mothers

81 Percentage of women 40 to 44 years old who are mothers

90 Percentage of women 40 to 44 years old who were mothers in 1976

25.2 Average age of women in 2005 when they gave birth for the first time

21.4 Average age of women in 1970 when they gave birth for the first time

5.6 million Stay-at-home moms in 2006

55 Percentage of the labor force in 2004 that is mothers with infants

59 Percentage of the labor force in 1998 that is mothers with infants

67 Percentage of women who gave birth for the first time between 2001 and 2003 and worked during their pregnancy

44 Percentage of women who gave birth for the first time between 1961 and 1965 and worked during their pregnancy

10.4 million The number of single mothers living with children younger than 18

3.4 million The number of single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 1970

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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