Carmella is a dear friend of mine, and also a very hardworking woman. We’ve been friends for 15 years, and she is one of the strongest and most joyful individuals I’ve ever known; she makes no excuses but just gets stuff DONE, and she’s always there for people. Her heart is as big as her bright smile, and I’m so thankful she agreed to share some of her life with us in this interview!
Introduction: Tell us a little about yourself and your family
Well, I am a proud mama of 3– Amaya, 11; Noah Jr., 8; & Alina, 7 months old. Amaya, our firstborn, is in 6th grade (I can’t believe I have a middle schooler!) and is my future veterinarian. She is this feisty and smart young lady with a love for animals that amazes me. I call her the animal whisperer. She is like a walking animal encyclopedia. You can ask her just about anything to do with animals and she will have the answer. Noah Jr., our middle child, is in 2nd grade and he has a heart of gold. He is such a giver and he cares so much about his family and friends. He will give you his last dollar in his piggy bank without hesitation. Alina, the baby of the family, is just learning to scoot around the house and is quite the curious one. She is still mastering the low crawl and getting into mischief…I think she will be my dancer or performing arts kid. We shall see. My husband and I recently celebrated our 12-year wedding anniversary! I am so lucky to have met my soulmate so young. Noah and I both work. He works in law enforcement as a detective and I am a full time Real Estate Agent. We lead a pretty busy life. I call it controlled chaos! When we are not busy with school, work, and sports we love spending time together as a family. On our off time we like hiking, biking, swimming, park days, and every now and then lazy days. I couldn’t ask for more.
You’ve been a working woman since you were a teenager. You and I went to high school together and I remember you having a job and gaining independence early on in life. What are some of the jobs that you’ve had, and which ones did you learn the most from?
Yes! Oh my goodness, that feels like so long ago and looking back I feel I have come so far! My mom was a single parent (my dad passed away my Sophmore year unexpectedly). She worked multiple jobs and we still struggled. I took my first job at a food joint in the mall when I was 15 so that I could help out. I worked at several different jobs during my teen years but the one that sticks out the most was a beach apparel store. I worked late hours but it payed pretty good. I remember waking up exhausted for school the next day and falling asleep in class only to dream about [the store]. Here I am 15 years later from my first job, and I am a Real Estate agent and I LOVE my job! It is definitely the job I learn from the most.
After you had your first baby, Amaya, did you go back to work right away or did you wait a while? Was it any different after baby #2, Noah Jr.?
I considered myself a stay-at-mom for the next 9 years after I had Amaya though I always found a way to earn extra income for our family. My husband, Noah, served in the United States Air Force for the first 4 years of our marriage (serving a total of 6 years). We were young, 19 & 21, and we were paycheck to paycheck. I wanted to earn extra money to provide some financial relief. I knew the stress that finances could bring all to well from my childhood years and I didn’t want to feel it again. I started an “in-home” daycare, getting certified through the United States Air Force, when Amaya was just 6 months old. It was a great job and I loved the kids I took care of. At one time I had 5 kids and I had a parent tell me, “Ma’am you have kids coming out of your walls!” Haha. I was making almost as much as Noah and I was proud of it! It was a great experience for myself and for Amaya. She learned to share and play well with others from a young age which was helpful when her little brother came along. Noah Jr. was born 3 years and two months after Amaya. Before he was born I decided to shut down my day care business and enjoy just my two kids. My husband decided to get out of the military and become a police officer shortly after Noah Jr. was born. We moved across the country here to Arizona hoping to live the American dream. Noah got hired pretty quickly and we bought our first home (which we still live in ) and moved in on my 23rd birthday. It was the best birthday ever! Noah was a rookie cop when we received our first mortgage payment…I quickly found out there was no way we were going to Disneyland or putting Amaya in dance unless I worked. I waitressed part-time for the next couple of years and at one time I was a cart-girl at the local golf course. I worked these odds and ends jobs not because I had to, but because I wanted my kids to have the opportunities that I didn’t have as a kid. I knew once both kids were in school full time I could finally start a career.
For many years you and your husband just had two children. Then along came baby Alina, and she was a bit of a surprise! Tell us what that journey was like for you and your family, and what were some of the main emotions you and your husband were feeling at that time.
I felt excitement and worry at the same time. I laid in bed at night staring at the ceiling thinking of how my career was finally taking off…I had just closed 5 deals within 30 days! All my hard work was paying off and BAM! We find out we are pregnant. I’m pretty sure Noah’s jaw hit the floor when I told him and he sat on the couch in a daze for hours. After a week of sleepless nights battling the thought of having to put my career on hold, I decided I could do both– be a full-time mom of two school aged kids and a baby AND run a successful business. The brokerage I am with played a huge part in this realization. There I have learned that you can have a strong relationship spiritually, in your marriage, and with your children while running a full time business. And you can do it without neglecting your body and mind. I am 7 months into it and I don’t have this perfected by any means but I have a happy hubby, happy kids, and happy clients.
We can’t imagine our lives without our little princess. She is the missing piece to our puzzle that we didn’t even realize was missing until we met her. She melts my heart daily and I am a complete sucker for that smile and those big brown eyes. Don’t even get me started on her chunky thighs!
A full year before you became pregnant with Alina, you got your Real Estate license and began working in that field. What was the initial impetus for you to pursue Real Estate, and how did you feel about it once you began actively working (prior to finding out you were pregnant)?
I knew once Amaya and Noah Jr. were both in school full time I wanted to pursue a career. I had Amaya just a couple of months shy of my 19th birthday. I went from graduating high school to being a stay-at-home mom. I loved every minute of it but I couldn’t wait to start a career! My mind went to Real Estate almost instantly as it is something that I have always been intrigued by. I got my license in January of 2013 and have been in love with my job since. I get to help people end and start new chapters in their lives. I have helped families who are growing, couples who are retiring, investors, and I have helped move people closer to their families. That one is my favorite. I have worked with some amazing people and I am always humbled by their kind words and the friendships I create along the way. I feel so blessed to enjoy my job as much as I do!
You went back to work fairly soon after giving birth to baby Alina. Was there any pressure on you from your workplace to return to work quickly, or was that your own decision? Was it overwhelming, or did it feel somewhat easy?
I made the decision to go back to work so soon own my own, there was no pressure from my husband or my brokerage. I got a text in the hospital while in labor, from a past client (yes I had my phone on me)…they wanted me to help their family member find a house. I told them that I was in the hospital about to have my baby and wouldn’t be working for possibly the next two weeks depending on how recovery went. I told them I would happily refer them to another agent in my office and that I would be sure that they were well taken care of. They said they wanted to wait for me. I was flattered and it made me smile from that uncomfortable hospital triage bed. I love my clients, most of them have become like family to me. I was more than happy to help them find a home just a week later. Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it though if my job didn’t allow me to do a lot of my work from home.
Since Alina was born I have worked with referrals only. It has worked out great though I am finding that I am now ready to pick up the pace and gain some more momentum. My motivation remains the same– my family. But our dreams are bigger! Much bigger!
Something that I see you manage amazingly well is your self-care. You workout regularly, maintain a healthy diet, and prove that a mother of three can also be sexy and beautiful. In contrast, what are the things you struggle with the most, and how do you take them on?
Well thank you. I try to workout as consistently as I can though there are some days when a walk around the neighborhood or the lake with Alina will have to suffice. I always feel so much better if I begin my day with a workout. The energy seems to carry out into the rest of my day.
If I don’t get my workout in I feel sluggish. What is my struggle? Sweets! Noah and I both have a sweet tooth! I am pretty good about keeping it out of the house so the temptation is not there but every now and then Noah will bring home goodies and as soon as he brings it in the house I cave too! I have zero resistance with anything chocolate!
You and your husband have a very strong and loving relationship. How do the two of you find balance in your work/home life? Do you have any special agreements that help you both manage certain things?
We take a team approach. We are in this together- I support him (he is a year into being a detective and I am so proud) and he supports me. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We actually do have a “chore agreement”. I cook Tuesday through Thursday. We can eat out or do take out on Fridays. And he cooks on his days off which are Saturday through Monday. Whoever isn’t cooking has dish duty. It has helped tremendously to have this agreement even though it’s so simple. We try to spend the last 30-60 minutes before we go to bed with each other snuggling in bed- reading, talking, or watching t.v. together. We want to start making it a point to go on a date every other week. We miss dating each other. We have let that one go too long!
What is something that you learned about yourself after having Alina and going back to work?
After I had Alina I realized that I tend to spread myself too thin! I was hesitant to accept help around me. I wanted to do everything for everyone. I have learned to share more of the responsibility around the house. My older two are 11 & 8 and up until now they haven’t had to do anything but clean their rooms. They now have a chore chart that includes chores like sweeping, dusting, and cleaning the bathrooms. Why didn’t I start that sooner?! They are learning to be more responsible and it has given me some relief. I have learned to accept help from my amazing support group. I couldn’t do this without my husband and my mother-in-law. I have an amazing circle of friends too that are also helpful.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman who is focused on her career and also has a new baby on the way, what would it be?
Do what feels right for you and your family whether it be returning to work 3 months later or 3 years later! And do it without guilt please ladies! There is so much pressure on us women as it is. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing because it really doesn’t matter. With that being said I would also like to share this reminder that someone shared with me, “Work will always be there. Enjoy your baby…even the sleepless nights. Enjoy the snuggles because they grow up so very fast. One day you will look back and wonder where the time has gone.”