Nicole is a judge, attorney, Family Court law clerk and a candidate this year for Monroe County Family Court Judge. She has been a Monroe County foster parent since 1999. As a young mom, Nicole was determined to make a greater impact for children and families involved in the family court system. With five children at home, Nicole enrolled at the University at Buffalo School of Law. In 2006, she graduated magna cum laude with her juris doctorate. She has focused her entire legal career on making a difference for children and families in Monroe County Family Court. As a foster parent, a community advocate and volunteer, attorney and judge, Nicole has worked to ensure that the children in our community are safe and that families in the court system have the support and services necessary to care for each other. She is a proud mother and grandmother and thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about how her mother has shaped and supported her as a foster and adoptive parent.
There is a quote from Jody Landers that has always spoken to me. She once said, “A child born another woman calls me mom. The depth of that tragedy and the magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me.” I have had the incredible opportunity to be a mom. I am a birth mother, a foster mother, an adoptive mother, a god mother and a grandmother. Being a mom to my children has been my absolute greatest joy.
What brought you to Listen to Your Mother?
Managing my health and fitness has always been a challenge for me. I struggle to balance the needs of my children with my own fitness goals. Several years ago I met my friend, Bern Lynch, at Max Effort Fitness. She was my inspiration. Bern and I shared this struggle with weight loss and fitness, with balancing family and our own health. We also shared a personal trainer, Jacques Nodar. Bern had worked hard to lose the weight she needed to be a healthy and fit mom to her boys, Michael and Brendan. She motivated me to work harder, to row longer, to run faster and lift more. Bern was a member of the original Rochester LTYM cast. She conquered her fears, auditioned and then spoke beautifully about her loss as a mother and turning that darkness into light. Bern repeatedly encouraged me to audition for LTYM. We lost Bern last year just months after she and her husband lost their son, Michael. In her memory, I auditioned for LTYM.
What is one of your favorite parenting moments?
My mother is a lung cancer survivor. She battled this disease with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Twice. During her last round of chemotherapy, she was determined to make it through treatment in time to regrow her hair for my daughter, Heather’s, high school graduation.
This photo caught one of my favorite moments as a mom and a daughter. It was taken at Heather’s graduation party. It is a photo of my mom, having only recently regrown her hair, with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She fought for her life so she could be around to live her life as their Nonnie, to celebrate graduations and birthdays, cheer on the sidelines of soccer games and sit in the audience of school plays. And they absolutely adore every ounce of her. How lucky am I to have this life!
What piece of writing has moved you?
Over the last several years, I have searched for quotes that resonate with me. I’ve search for words that help me make sense of what I am feeling or situations that have caused me to struggling. I’ve searched for poems, phrases, even songs that I could use to inspire one of my children or a friend struggling with loss. And while many pieces of writing have moved and inspired me, I keep a selection of quotes in the back of my calendar that I read when life seems cruel or unfair or when I’m feeling defeated. These are three I love:
“All kids need is a little help, a little love, and somebody who believes in them.” - Earvin “Magic” Johnson
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair
broken men.” - Frederick Douglass
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Jimmy Valvano
Nicole would like to thank Elizabeth, Luis, Damon, Amanda, Naheem, Heather, Kevin, Brian and Terrance for their love and support and for shaping her as a mom and grandma.