Smarties, meet my sweet neighbor, Nancy Liszka. Nancy is mom to a set of beautiful (adult!) twin girls, Lara and Haley. I absolutely love interviewing Smarty Moms of older kids, so I was thrilled when Nancy agreed to be interviewed. As a mom who’s done time in the “trenches,” Nancy has such great perspective for all of us moms who are still in the carpool fast lane.
She and her husband, Tom, have raised two remarkable women – one who is a UNC-Chapel Hill student (one of my favorite moments was when Lara was accepted to UNC and the Tarheel flag started flying in their yard…much to the delight of her Duke grad dad, I am sure ;-)), and one who has Down syndrome. Every time I see Lara and Haley together – whether in pictures on Facebook or in their driveway – it makes my heart leap. I am so incredibly honored to highlight them today!
So, in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month and in honor of every other mom out there who is mothering college students, graduates, or any other adults (because let’s face it, is our job EVER done?! Nope), I introduce you to Nancy Liszka! Thanks so much for sharing your sweet family with us, Nancy!
Smarty Mom Stats
Married to: Tom Liszka for 30 years
Children: Lara & Haley (twins), 21
Years in Charlotte: 18
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Occupation: Respiratory Therapist (retired), Homemaker
Alma Mater: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
You’re the mom of twins – one with Down syndrome and one without. Tell us what it was like raising twins with such different needs. Overwhelming at first since they were six weeks premature and in the NICU for a month. Once they came home, we were able to settle into a crazy routine.
What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced in the early years? Having time to process my emotions since I was so busy with them. Making time for me and my husband.
What were they like growing up? What were some of their favorite things? They were both so fun loving and active. They loved to do things outdoors and all things Disney.
How did the girls benefit from having each other? Haley benefited by having Lara as a role model and still does today!
What do you hope for your girls as they enter adulthood? Contentment
What are some of the best resources in town for parents and siblings who are just now welcoming a child with Down syndrome into their family? Definitely the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte. And, I’d also recommend finding a church with an established special needs ministry.
As a mom who’s “been there, done that,” what advice would you give moms with younger children – especially those with twins or with Down syndrome (or both ☺)? Try not to get caught up in doing too much. Just relax and enjoy your children.
Now for some fun Smarty questions:
Best place in town to meet girlfriends for lunch? Ilios Noche or Firebirds
Family’s favorite weekend getaway? The mountains – we love to hike to water falls.
Last book read? Discernment by Henri Nouwen
Paper or electronic calendar? Paper
First three things you’d do on an unexpected day off? Pray, exercise, go out to dinner with my husband, Tom
Favorite “twin” moment? When the girls were seven years old, they were interviewed for a video. The woman asked Lara what was different between her and Haley. Lara said, “She likes ketchup and I don’t.” The woman asked if there was anything else. Lara said, “I have to wear a uniform to school, and she doesn’t.” Then, she asked Lara what she thought Haley would do when she was older. Lara said, “Work in a ketchup factory.” 🙂
Family’s favorite homecooked meal? Fettucine, ham and peas, Pastichio
Best date night spot in town? Dressler’s or Rooster’s
Best part of mothering a college student? Watching her mature into a beautiful woman, inside and out.
Best part of mothering a child with Down syndrome? Watching her mature into a beautiful woman, inside and out.
Finish this sentence: The best way to teach compassion is… I do not think compassion can be taught, it must be experienced. The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which mean “to suffer with.” As my favorite author, Henri Nouwen, puts it in his book Compassion: A Reflection of the Christian Life:
Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into pleas of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with the lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
Compassion is a beautiful gift Haley has allowed us to grow in as a family. To be real with what God has place in our lives and to appreciate how He uses Haley as a tool to refine us for His glory. Such a true blessing. 🙂