A Perfectly Messy Life
January 2019 Issue
by Donna Raboni Pizzolongo
Photos provided by
“You have to find joy in everything you do. Whether it’s laundry, washing the dishes, or going to Walmart,” Christina Roberts responded when I asked how she gets through life. She laughed and said, “Walmart now has a pick-up option, and I don’t mind getting my groceries that way.”
Christina is the mom of seven children aged 5 to 22. Her children are Olivia 22, Christian 17, Trinity 16, Dakota 14, Jackson 10, Christopher 7, and Emerson, 5. The age range means Christina has a grown daughter, who teaches Special Education in Hawaii, …and a preschooler! In addition, her three youngest sons are all autistic.
Her husband, Barry, is retired military after a 30-year career. He now has a job that keeps him on the road 90 percent of the time. Christina is grateful for her husband, who has done so much for the family working two jobs most of their married life. This has allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom. It was his smile, she shared, that won her over and led to their wedding, just six weeks after they met.
Christina’s starts her day with prayer. She prays to make good choices each day, to make it through the day, and to say I am sorry, if needed. On a good day, Christina sleeps until 4:00 AM. Due to the autism, the sleep pattern of her three youngest children can be varied. Some nights her older children will assist with the younger ones while Mom gets some much-needed rest.
Christina’s days are filled with her children, but she takes time to reach out to others, too. Also, on many days, she partakes in her work mentoring new Army spouses, which she has done for 22 years, serves as a volunteer photographer and as head drill coach for the ROTC students at Beaufort High School. In addition, she is an advocate for special needs children.
The passion she shows for the children she feels are often ignored is evident as she speaks open and honestly about her own children’s experiences. Christina has become an avid advocate for all special needs children, not only those with autism. She started dealing with these issues at the local school level, moved up to the district level, and eventually to the state level. At first it was a personal battle, when one of her children was not allowed to attend school due to an unwritten rule/law that states all children must be potty trained before starting school. Her efforts to bring the issue to the forefront resulted in a legitimate rule/law being instated. “There are autistic children that may be behind in certain activities,” Christina explains, “but the school district was reluctant to be flexible.”
She now sits in on meetings between the school district and parents trying to get assistance for their special needs children. Her experience and knowledge has been found to be invaluable in these meetings. She knows the ropes and the questions to ask in order to benefit the child in question. Her intervention has had a big impact on a variety of levels.
Christina credits her ability to accomplish and participate in so many activities due to supportive children, friends, and flexibility. More than her own seven call her “Mom”. The kids who participate on the drill team and other children she comes across daily also call her Mom. She smiled. “That’s why I get up in the morning.”
Her children are all required to participate in ROTC for one year. After that, they can make the decision as to whether or not they want to continue. Her older children have all chosen to continue on past the required one year. They also participate in drill team, play instruments, and look out for each other.
I was lucky enough to meet Christian, Christina’s high school senior, who is looking forward to heading off to college in the fall. Mom and son agree they are a tight knit group. “Some days the children might not like each other,” Christina said, “but they must respect each other.” She added, “I couldn’t do any of it without them.”
“Mom is tough,” Christian shared, “but I know it’s going to make me a better person in the long run.” He also credited his mom with teaching him about grit, will, and strength. Quite a tribute from teenager!
When I asked Christina where she finds balance in her life, she replied with a smile, “I love being a mom. I take life one minute at a time. My life is perfectly messy. This is us.”
A Very Real Dream: To serve in The United States Marine Corps!
Graduation Gift to Self: A Harley Davidson
Loves to Travel: London, Paris, New York; the sky’s the limit!
Puppy Love: Her black and white Shih-Tzu named Jasper