Mother of the month: Rachel Coleman

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So, tell me about yourself.

Rachel: I am a mom. I have always wanted to be a mom and have children. That very momness has led me to so do much more. I was born in California until I was 11 and my family moved to Salt lake. I am a self taught musician and I do all of the music for Signing Time! Signing Time has been the perfect marriage between sign language and family.

What does being a mother mean to you?

Rachel: Being a mother means creating a safe loving space.

And you just have the two children right?

Rachel: Yep, I have the two girls, Leah is 11 and Lucy is 8. Leah is deaf and Lucy has CP. What I didn't expect about being a mother was looking was isn't available for my kids and then creating it. Being a mother is being a creative problem solver.

What are some of your core values that you want to instill in your children and how do you plan to do that?

Rachel: In our family, integrity is core value. Just being honest. In our home, when you say something, you do it because you said that you did; even if you don't want to. Then your kids grow up knowing that they can trust you. They know that what you say is how it is. We also value respect; respecting each other. There is always a reason to say no. Ever since we are little, we are raised to hear "No, no, no!" But, instead of saying "no," we try and say, "let's play something else." So communication is something else that we value. And again it is how creative you are in coming up with different solutions to life's problems.

How do you handle your responsibilities as a mother in relationship to your responsibilities with signing time?

Rachel: Sometimes I handle it really well and other times it is like juggling eggs and I drop them all over. Signing Time! is my family. My sister Emily is my business partner and my daughter Leah is my co-host with my nephew Alex. My husband, Aaron, is a cameraman and one of the editors and my dad is the CEO of the company. So really, it is our family. It took me a long time to realize that I am in charge and that I can say "no, I don't want to do this." For a long time I felt that I had to give up a lot of things, and then I realized that I can set what works for me. The great thing about Signing Time! is that we travel a lot doing performances with public television and I get to bring Leah along. We take things as they come. My mom is a huge help. I couldn't do it with out my mom. So we manage it with a lot of support from family. My work is my family. We created it so that people could communicate with Leah. She was four years old and I was frustrated with how people were trying to communicate with her. So she is such a major part of it. It might seem messy but it works for us.

What is one thing that you could do better as a mother?

Rachel: I really struggle a lot with communication. I wish that I could communicate better with Lucy. And just being able to support her. She has CP and with that she has lots of anxiety. There are times that I am begging her to tell me what I can do to help. There is no parenting book for my life; you just don't know what to expect when you daughter is deaf and your second child is in a wheel chair. We are definitely not perfect; we are a mess a lot of the times. I have a blog and online chat where people can get who we really are. The reason that I do it is because people think I am super mom but I'm like a super mess. People think that I am perfect all the time, but just spend ten minutes with me and you'll see who I am. On TV you can't help but look perfect, that is what TV is. But if you ran into me at Costco, you would see me in a black T-shirt, jeans and flip flops. I wish that I had more one on one time with my daughters, not just drive-around-inthe- car time. I try to have a night out or a weekend together. We really try to have relaxing family vacations where it is just the four of us. We love to just sit on the sand at the beach. I think that we are running around so fast that a vacation is not running but just sitting still just next to each other.

Do you have any funny stories about being a mother?

Rachel: I'll bet the girls could tell you all kinds of stories. We realized that Leah was deaf when she was about one year old and we started signing to her. And any mother wants her kids to say "mom." It seemed like she could sign everything except "mom;" she could say "shoes," and "airplane," and she could put words together. And I was like, "when is 'mom' going to come?" And one day she came in and had her pointer finger on her chin and she was just tapping her chin. And I was like, "I don't even know what that sign is." And she kept doing it and she was looking at me like "come on mom." And then she finally gave up and walked off. And then I was like, "There it is! And I missed it!" It was her version of saying mom. And Lucy, she had almost a similar thing, she didn't start signing until she was about two and a half. Her doctor said that she would never talk, she would never sign, and that she would probably be retarded. But she has an incredible brain in there. And when she did start signing, her first sign was "more," and her next sign was her putting her fist against her chin. I was like, "Is it mom?" and she didn't give me any indication that it was. So I said, "Is it water?" and she did indicate that it was water.

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