Mama Simona has been a World Moms Contributor for more than a decade and has written many posts for us over the years. She first started contributing from South Africa but left that world behind in 2021 when she moved to Spain with her husband. You may know her from her posts or be one of the many World Mom friends she’s made over the years. For this month’s Meet A World Mom, WMN sat down with Simona, in Spain, to to find out what makes her a World Mom.
What country do you live in?
It used to be South Africa but I moved to Spain in 2021
What country are you from?
I was born in Italy but lived in South Africa from the age of eight until last year.
What language(s) do you speak?
I speak English, Italian and Afrikaans fluently and am currently studying Spanish, German and French
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have a son and a daughter. My son turned 29 in January and my daughter will be 26 in May
How did you connect with World Moms Network?
I responded to a request for mom writers who didn’t live in the USA back when our founder, Jen Burden, first started this group as World Moms Blog
How long have you been a part of World Moms Network?
Almost from the beginning, which was in 2011.
How has your life changed since you joined World Moms Network?
Honestly, most of my life I felt like the Ugly Duckling did. I didn’t have any true friends and just didn’t “fit in.” Since joining WMN, I have found many kindred spirits and the true friends I always longed to have. I was very fortunate to meet up, in-person with Senior Editor, Kirsten Doyle, when she visited South Africa, and I have had a one-on-one video chat with Chief Strategist, Purnima.
Now that I’m in Europe I hope to be able to meet more World Moms (as soon as COVID lets up enough to make getting around the EU easier). Even though I haven’t met anyone else in person, I consider my other friendships just as real. Jennifer Burden also went above and beyond to help out my daughter when she got sick in the USA and I was unable to help from South Africa. That’s the definition of true friendship in my book.
How do you spend your days? (work, life, etc.)
Before emigrating to Spain, I completed a Level 5 TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course, as well as How to Teach Business English and Teaching One-on-One and Online. I work as a freelance ESL teacher. I don’t have a lot of students yet, but luckily my husband’s income is sufficient for us to live comfortably here. Since I don’t work every day, I usually take care of household chores in the morning then spend my afternoons studying Spanish, German and French.
What are the top 5 places on your travel wish list?
I would definitely love to visit the USA to meet up with a lot of my online friends. Disney World and Disneyland are also on my US wish-list, because it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. And I want to go back to Italy because it has so many beautiful things that I haven’t had the chance to see yet. I also hope to get the chance to explore the rest of Europe and the world once COVID restrictions lighten up.
Is there a book, movie or show you recommend?
One Day at the Time (series on Netflix) – A very clever comedy similar to Jane the Virgin (which isn’t what you’d expect and is also a very good comedy on Netflix).
What is your favorite memory with your children?
Hard to pick just one! Strangely enough, the first thing that came to mind were the middle of the night/early morning feeds. There was something very special about that intimate time when the world was sleeping and I was able to give my baby my undivided attention, free from the inevitable daytime distractions.
What is your best motherhood advice?
Never forget that every child is an individual and what works for one child won’t necessarily work for the next one. Comparing children is the most counterproductive thing that you could possibly do. Also, forget about being the “perfect” mom, because nobody is that. Trust me, some of the parenting mistakes I used to beat myself up for, my kids (now in their 20s) don’t even remember! Take advice as well-meant, but then trust your own instincts / knowledge when it comes to your children.
What is your favorite place you have traveled to?
Thanda Safari Game Reserve in South Africa. It’s smaller than the Kruger National Park, and as a result the odds of you being able to spot most (if not all) of the “Big 5” is much greater.
What is your favorite family travel destination?
Warner Brothers Theme Park near Madrid in Spain. It’s open from noon to midnight. Despite having to wear masks at all times, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed our day there – although one day only isn’t enough to take in the entire park.
What is one random thing that most people would be surprised to know about you?
I am unable to strike a match or use a “flint type” lighter. I have suffered from pyrophobia since I was a little girl, even though I love a fire in a fireplace or BBQ (just as long as I am far enough away from the actual flames myself). Ironically I allowed my children to use matches and lighters from a very early age, because I didn’t want to pass on my fear to them. I only revealed to them, when they were adults, that the reason I allowed them to light their own birthday candles was because I couldn’t do it myself!
How did you get through quarantine/lockdown (2020/21)?
I know lockdown was hard for many people, but I didn’t suffer at all—except for the inconvenience caused by the shortages of some goods. I was very fortunate because in South Africa (where we still lived in 2020), I lived in a large house with a large garden and was able to work from home. My husband and I were perfectly happy on our own. Our children had already moved overseas prior to 2020, so video calling was nothing new for us. We miss the garden now that we live in a flat in Spain, but here we’re in a very small town and (apart from having to wear masks) we can do whatever we want. I am extremely grateful every day for my life.
What brings you joy?
Hearing a child laugh – there’s nothing better in the world than that.
If you had the power to change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would love to be able to make EVERYONE understand that the health and welfare of every creature in the world is more important than money. There would be enough resources for everyone if they were equitably distributed. John Lennon said it so well in his song IMAGINE (you can fid the lyrics here: LyricFind)
What UN sustainable development goal are you most passionate about?
Although all the goals are important and worthy, as someone who lives with several auto-immune disorders, number 3 – Good Health and Well-Being – is the one I’m most passionate about. My grandfather was a doctor and he always used to say that good health is “the one (1) that gives value to all the zeros (0) of the world” – In other words if you have education but no health you have 0, but if you are educated and healthy then you have 10. If you’re educated and wealthy you have 00 but if you’re educated, wealthy and healthy you have 100 etc.
The fact that your income determines whether you can access the medicine you need, just so pharmaceutical companies can make exorbitant profits is abhorrent to me. It’s the same all over the world, even places where “free” medical care is provided (because the “free” care isn’t of the same calibre as private care).
SDG 3: Health & Well-being
In South Africa, my aunt’s domestic worker (I’ll call her Miss X) was ill. My aunt took her to the free, government hospital. They kept Miss X overnight and discharged her the next morning with some paracetamol. My aunt then took her to her own (private) physician (whom my aunt had to pay) and he discovered that Miss X was HIV positive and had an active case of Tuberculosis!
Armed with these results (which had to be paid for) my aunt took Miss X back to the hospital and refused to leave until she ensured that this time Miss X was going to be treated appropriately. This time they gave her antiretrovirals and other medicines but they didn’t take the time to explain what the medication was for and when to take them! My aunt took her home and not only explained everything to her, but also used a pill divider so that Miss X would remember which pill to take when. If it wasn’t for my Aunt’s involvement, Miss X would have died years ago instead of having an undetectable viral load and be fully recovered from TB. Lack of money should never be the reason for someone’s death!