Dallas mom Laran O’Neill isn’t just making a difference in the lives of her own girls, Rylee, 11, and Reese, 9. As Chief Advancement Officer of Children’s Medical Center Foundation and a newly minted “bonus mom” to her husband Larry Helms’ two kids, Kailee, 15, and Logan, 11, she’s making a difference in the lives of kids around Dallas-Fort Worth. The 42-year-old mom chats with us about her superpowers, the reality of mom guilt and what being a mom has taught her.
DFWChild: You’re Chief Advancement Officer at Children’s Medical Center Foundation. What does that mean?
Laran O’Neill: In my role, I strive to promote Children’s Health to be a cause of choice in North Texas and leading our friends and fundraising efforts to provide philanthropic support of the mission to make life better for children.
C: That must be demanding. How do you cope with mom guilt?
LO: I talk with my kids to give them context for situations that don’t go their way. I own up when I make a mistake. I talk through the big stuff with my husband and close friends, who have been through it themselves and help me keep things in perspective.
C: What’s your super-power as a mom?
C: Have you shared an experience with your kids that fostered empathy in you all?
LO: In 2018, We had the privilege of becoming part of The Men of Nehemiah, a Christian recovery community for men located in South Dallas. My daughters and I met people who’d been through all sorts of life experiences different from our own and were surrounded by God’s love, while we were there. We learned how fellowship with others—no matter our differences—along with prayer and praise, truly changes perspectives and lives.
C: How have you evolved as a person, since becoming a mom?
LO: When I first became a mother, I was very anxious and wanted to do everything right. Now, I’m more accepting of myself and my kids. I know we’re all doing the best we can and there’s no such thing as doing everything “right.”
C: Who do you consider a superhero mom and why?
LO: My friend, April, is a superhero mom. She’s so fun and all the kids love being around her—as do I! April’s true super-power is that she’s deeply caring and fully present with her kids. She was also a lifesaver when I was struggling to balance everything as a single mom.
C: What’s your parenting style?
LO: I don’t sweat the small stuff. We don’t overschedule ourselves—and there’s a lot of affection, laughter and playtime for our family.
C: How do you make sure each of your kids gets what they need from you?
LO: I know my kids’ differences and love languages. I ensure I’m attuned to those needs, as much as possible. I also spend individual time with my daughters, which we all benefit from.
C: What’s the best parenting advice you’ve been given?
LO: Kids just need a parent who’s present and listens to them.
C: Is there a motto that you strive to live by?
LO: Be nice or be quiet. This applies to yourself and to others!
C: What’s the biggest lesson life has taught you so far?
LO: Don’t sweat the small stuff and know that it’s almost all small stuff.
C: Have you learned anything new about yourself recently?
LO: Living through a pandemic, with the help of planning and technology, I’ve learned how to make time for what matters most. Most days, I can coordinate distance learning for the kids, work remotely, connect with friends and manage to get in some self-care!
C: With so many plates spinning, how do you stay grounded?
LO: My faith in God, my recovery journey and my family and friends.
Children’s Health, AT&T Discovery District and DFWChild Magazine join forces to celebrate SUPER MOMS leading up to Mother’s Day. From patient mothers and health care heroes to everyday working moms, we’re proud to celebrate the #SuperMoms who help defend and protect kids.
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Image courtesy of Laran O’Neill.