The Secret Life of A Mom
Laura Helsabeck is the epitome of a Smarty Pants, but it’ll be years of knowing her before you figure it out. She is a typical mom who packs lunches, does laundry, carpool and kisses boo boos. Her life before kids is not a story she leads with, but it often leaks out in conspicuous ways. Like the time several moms were discussing the risks of purchasing a home on a flood plain, she was patient listening to our conversation and then shared an incredibly detailed perspective not just of flood risks, but also how flood insurance is managed at the federal level. The room was silent, the surrounding conversations stopped to absorb her commentary and how it influenced her families recent house hunt.
Then there is the time her five-year-old son shared his rock collection with my daughter, only they weren’t rocks per se, but “diorite, basalt and shale” he tells us. As a mom, she gives new meaning to term “rock star.” Her backyard is one large science experiment with digging tools, a vegetable garden, play set and inflatable water park. Craft projects often involve creating solar systems or breaking things apart to discover what’s inside.
Laura’s background is in environmental science, hydrology, water chemistry and geology. She is an expert in national water policy, water quality and quantity, the impact of climate change on water, flooding and levees in the United States as well has hydrofracturing. She was a Senior Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC. Her job was to develop and recommend federal policy by building consensus among subject matter experts.
As if this wasn’t impressive enough, I began to dig a little deeper to find a few other secret identities lurking beneath. She is a classically trained pianist, has performed at Carnegie Hall (twice), studied at Oxford University and has an impressive collection of passport stamps throughout Europe and Asia. It literally makes her impressive mountain climber and chin stand yoga poses pale in comparison.
Here’s a little more Q&A on motherhood with one of my favorite Smarty Pants…
Laura Helsabeck, M.S., Ph.D
Husband: Chris, married 10 years
Children: Henry, 5 and Will, 3
Hometown: Gastonia NC
Lives in: Charlotte, since 2015
Neighborhood: Olde Foxcroft
Career: Environmental Chemist
What was your greatest professional accomplishment?
American Chemical Society Graduate Student of the Year
Despite the fact that this was during graduate school and before my professional career began, there was something deeply satisfying about winning the award. Especially since as a woman in chemical sciences, I was a minority. I was competing with mostly men. Most of whom could calculate circles around me, but my work proved to be more compelling and creative enough to deserve the award. I studied the fate of ibuprofen and caffeine once it enters our water system after being disposed from our bodies and the impact it has on our environment.
Was it difficult to put down your career for parenthood?
Not at all, I took one look at our firstborn and knew it was my season to be a mother. However, I will say when pregnant I was undecided about whether or not to go back to work. A colleague gave me great advice, saying to wait and see after Henry was born and she was correct. The decision was easy at that point. Work and ambition would always be there, my baby wouldn’t always be little.
Tell us about your boys?
Angels and best friends, they fight and love on each other daily. Such different personalities, my first is a typical “first child”, a rule follower, more reserved, with such an inquisitive mind. My second child has never met a stranger, loves to climb, and can be counted on to “ask questions later.” Both, to me, are beautiful individuals with characteristics that will serve them both differently and well in life.
Best part of being a boy mom?
They love their mommy and I love them!!! Bring on the mud, energy, and chaos!
Supermom Mom Moment
While we were at Disney World last year, our family caught the stomach bug our first day at Magic Kingdom. What should have been an eight hour drive back to Charlotte (thankfully we weren’t on a plane), took eleven hours with stops to clean up the backside of one child, the vomiting of another and stops for my husband. I felt it hit me when pulling off the interstate onto Tyvola Road. I wonder if my body just said, nope, you can’t come down with this yet because a “supermom” needs to get us home. We are still scarred from that trip… it might be some time until we go to Disney again.
Any interest in going back to work?
Absolutely, when it is time. But being a mom is the most important thing I have ever done, so for now I will take care of my little ones.
Last secret I’ll spill, you’re an impressively self taught chef. What are you making these days?
We subscribe to a farm share with Wild Hope Farm, which provides our family with 14 weeks of sustainable local produce, farm eggs and wildflowers. We pick up a basket each month at a refrigerated trailer at the Myers Park Presbyterian Outreach Center. Then, we literally use google to experiment with the produce. It’s an adventure in our kitchen. Recently we made kohlrabi slaw with apples, carrots, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Tonight, my older son, Henry helped me cut up garlic scapes and we made a garlic scape pesto with chicken. We’re having a blast with this and can’t wait for the Wild Hope Farm fall share.
Smarty Lightning Round…….
Favorite Place to shop for yourself: Athleta for mom gear
Favorite Workout: Y2 Yoga
Best Date Night Spot: Our couch with a cocktail and movie
Best Personal Indulgence: Time with my girlfriends, everyday, always. I love my village and my ladies.
Drink of Choice: La Croix or wine