Prominent Austin moms dish on motherhood

Happy Mother’s Day! We here at LiveMom hope you mothers are enjoying your day — whether you are choosing to spend it with your family, spending some time by yourself or whether you are solo parenting.

We had so much fun putting together our article last year on prominent Austin fathers that we decided to do the same thing this year for Mother’s Day. Thanks so much to all of these amazing women for sharing a bit with us about what Mother’s Day means to them.

Staci Gray is a children’s performer who sings about worms, dinosaurs, bubbles and everything in between. Staci is mom to Rand, 4, Finn, 2 and another baby, which is scheduled to arrive in July. Photo courtesy of Heavenly Peach Photography.

What do you like most about raising kids in Austin?
There’s so many great things Austin has to offer!  Amazing parks, splash pads, family-friendly restaurants, museums, live music and family events that happen all the time!  We also love our preschool, the All Austin Cooperative Nursery School, an amazing, nurturing play-based school!  My favorite thing about raising kids in Austin, though, is being surrounded by like-minded parents who support and commend our lifestyle (attachment parenting, cloth diapering, extended breast feeding, and being a vegetarian family) instead of treat us like we’re nuts!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
Being a mother can be hard. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find someone to watch you kid(s) for a little bit (even just an hour or two) and take a break for yourself. You and children will benefit from it!

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
A massage or 2 or 3!  :-)


Terri Gruca is the 5, 6 and 10pm news anchor for KVUE, contributing consumer, investigative and inspirational breast cancer stories for the station, a Smart Money blogger and mom to one year old Gregory.

What do you like most about raising kids in Austin?
Austin is a terrific place to raise a family because of all the family friendly events that happen all year, the terrific schools and the ability to spend so much time outside.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
I still consider myself a new mother, so I’ll share some advice others have given me. Enjoy every minute! Don’t worry if there are dirty dishes in the sink, laundry in the laundry room, toys on the floor. Your child will never remember those things – only the time you spend with him or her. Laugh often and take as many pictures and videos as you can to document even the smallest things.

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
I have everything I could ever want for Mother’s Day – a wonderful husband and a healthy, happy baby. My husband and I tried for 8 years to have a baby, so our son truly is a miracle and we couldn’t be happier! So just time with my boys!


Cookie Ruiz is Ballet Austin’s Executive Director, a Certified Fundraising Executive, speaker, nonprofit and community leader and mom to J.R. and Boo.

What do you like best about raising kids in Austin?
Having called 17 cities “home” before moving to Austin, Austin is the first place I chose to as my permanent home. (The other locations were selected for me by the US Air Force). Of Austin’s many attributes for families, our wonderful year-round weather is at the top of my list, making our parks, trails and sidewalks a wonderful playground. Austin offers families many affordable opportunities for our children, from sports and outdoor activities to a wide range of wonderful arts and creative offerings. This is also a community with open minds and open hearts.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
Be kind to your children… and remember that for the majority of their lives they will be adults deciding the role you will play in their lives. Every minute I spend with my adult daughters is a gift from the investment in their childhood.

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
For the past 16 years I have spent my Mother’s Day with families across Austin that honor Ballet Austin by bringing the special women in their lives to our annual Mother’s Day weekend performances. My Mother’s Day will start with my precious girls coming over to log my daily 5 miles before a great brunch, and then it is off to the theater to enjoy the experience of creating a special day and special memories for our audience. Seeing two and three generations of family gathered together reminds me that I have the best job in the world.


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Toni Tipton-Martin is a culinary journalist working to find a seat for our unsung heroes of the kitchen at the long table of Southern culinary history. Toni is also mom to three sons, ages 30, 18 and 16 and one 29-year-old daughter.

What do you like most about raising kids in Austin?
We are outdoorsy people who naturally thrive by the water, and Austin has so many places where we can be together. Our first year here, we started a tradition of discovering Austin’s hike and bike trails, nearby lakes and neighborhood ponds. Anyplace with water — whether we are boating, jet skiing, or just feeding the ducks.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
My advice to new mothers is to take the time to develop real relationships with your kids and to create traditions that will last into adulthood, because they grow up fast and before you know it they are gone. As a food writer, I unknowingly created lasting family memories that my adult kids still look forward to. They involve being together in the kitchen. For example, on Thanksgiving, the women cook the main parts of the meal and the kids set the table, while the men gather around the fryer to cook the turkey. Starting on Christmas vacation, we began making cookies and caramel corn together to give as gifts, then on Christmas Eve we put together a homemade gingerbread house following a recipe I learned from a chef in Cleveland.

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
For Mother’s Day, I really, really want my family to be healthy and happy so I can concentrate on finishing my book!


Monica Maldonado Williams is founding editor of GivingCity Austin, a magazine about local philanthropy and the communications director for the Austin Community Foundation. Monica is also mom to Sam, 7 and Olivia, 4.

What do you like most about raising kids in Austin?
Austin offers lots of ways for kids to learn and have great experiences outside of school, from sports to music, the arts, great parks and a strong intellectual community that supports moms who are ambitious for their children.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
Believe in the dream you have for your family. You’ll hear lots of advice and get lots of distractions, but if your dream is to have healthy, high-achieving kids who enjoy eating together as a family every night and love to read… or whatever… stay focused on that and don’t succumb to pressure to fit in. Your kids might not appreciate it now, but they’ll love you for it when they’re adults

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
A little time to myself in the morning, a lot of time with my kids in the day, and all night with my husband.


Sydney Yeager is a painter, art educator, mom to grown daughters Ellen and Kay and grandmother to Charlie, 5, Collins, 1, Lucy, 4 and Sam, 1.

What do you like most about raising kids in Austin?
I loved bring up children in Austin, because of the multitude of summer activities which are free and fun, like the swim team programs, the Nature & Science Center, the lovely shady parks and nearby lakes. All are there for the taking, unlike many cities, where you have to look high and low to find activities for children in the summer.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to new mothers?
Of course, everyone knows that it’s important to slow down and enjoy children when they are little..it does go by quickly.  I’m hard pressed to come up with anything more sage than that. A cliché, it’s true, but it really is so hard to live by that rule.  Especially today.

What do you really want for Mother’s Day?
I get what I like almost every weekend, which is spending time with my adorable children, who live here in Austin. So more of the same is what I want!!!

What would be your answers to these questions?

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

2 Comments on Prominent Austin moms dish on motherhood

  1. what a great article! i enjoy reading about what other families enjoy about austin, and it’s great to get perspective from some of austin’s prominent moms.

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