The Miracle Mama
Natalie Mazzeo is one hell of a woman. The International speaker, writer, coach and advocate left the corporate world after her second daughter, Chiara, was born and diagnosed with Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, Microcephaly, Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Delay. Reintegrating back into life as a ‘special needs mum’, she created a blog called Chiara’s Journey, and later, the site MiracleMama.com.au which aimed to support other mothers raising warriors with complex health needs.
A passionate advocate for those warriors, and the carer’s who support them, she is making a huge impact in creating positive change for this community around the world. Here, she speaks to The Goat Journal about the rituals and routines of the family she describes as funny, creative, adaptive, adventurous and resilient.
Who is in your family?
Natalie Roberts Mazzeo, carer, speaker, coach, her husband, Mauro carer, Uber driver and their daughters Grace, 9 and Chiara, 6.
Tell us a little about your family?
“Our family flows to a very different pace to others and our energy is often focused on meeting Chiara’s needs. Our little warrior had a stroke and as a result has been left with some significant challenges. Over the years we have learnt to find our new normal. I mostly work from home so this affords me the opportunity to get things sorted for school drop off and pick up. When the girls are home, we like to spend a few hours outside and then we all wind down into the night together.
What makes us unique is the fact that we have chosen to live the best life possible, despite our beautiful daughter’s life-changing diagnosis. That’s not to say that it’s all been smooth sailing, however through all the changes and adapting to this kind of normal, we still find ways to live an amazing and magical life.
Our house is filled with lots of books – we all love to read. We have a super king bed (it’s the best!) that we all jump in and read books, chat, sing or just chill. The physical workload of raising a little warrior who is unable to sit, stand or walk can feel huge at times, so to have a space where we can all lie down and connect is absolute bliss. More importantly, it’s all the cuddles, hugs, kisses and touches that mean so much.
We love to travel and get out in nature. Since childhood I have always had a sense of adventure so that has definitely impacted the way I engage with parenting now. As a kid, we’d always be skiing at Mt Buller, or water-skiing in the summer. Now, with my own family I try and keep as active as possible. We love to go for bike rides and Chiara has a bike that helps to hold her body upright so she can pedal and move while Grace’s zooms along beside her on the scooter. We try to life a full life, despite limitations and it’s these things that bring us back to the family values that we want to co-create together. We have this kind of quirky thing where we have family mantras where we remind each other what we want to create in our lives together. At the start of each year we choose a word or a theme that will encapsulate our favourite things. This year it’s nourish, abundance, family and fun. So when we’re driving around Melbourne we’ll see little things that might remind us of those words, and we’ll literally repeat them out loud.
What makes your family unique?
I think the most challenging thing about being a parent to a little warrior is the same challenge most parents face: presence. To be fully connected and present all of the time to your children. This is such an important skill to hold, even more so in our modern-day lives where we are often distracted with iPhones and information at the touch of a button. But for us specifically, it also can be difficult at times to have the energy to provide an extraordinary level of care for Chiara, especially when we are both exhausted with broken sleep etc. But then, there’s the love… oh my goodness the love is everything. It totally tips the focus from challenges to the rewards – always.
Grace’s nickname is the oracle and Mauro and I often turn to her for decision making. Grace holds wisdom well beyond her years. The bond between her and Chiara is out of this world, especially given the fact that Chiara is unable to walk or talk… but it doesn’t seem to impact their connection. I have witnessed the most extraordinary acts of human kindness, love, acceptance and fun simply by just watching them both interact with one another. Grace is the creative genius of the family, she comes up with adaptive play ideas. Chiara requires equipment to help her sit, stand and move so she’s often in her wheelchair, or stander or walker. Grace has discovered ways to play in amongst all the adaptive equipment and have the most amazing time.
Our routines have changed depending on where Chiara is at with her health over the years. We’ve had to adapt and revolve our world around therapy appointments, hospitals, surgeries… the lot. I think the uniting force that flows through our days is the passion to live healthy and abundant lives. Mauro and I love cooking and creating with organic foods, we appreciate nature and jumping on the bikes and riding around the local streets.”
Our favourite The Goat
“The Moisturising Wash, we love it! It makes
baths times so special. It makes the water feels
like silk when we pop it into the bath. We love
the beautiful packaging too, it makes our bath
times extra fun.”