‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Ashley Steinbach, 2021 Colorado Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you being selected Mother of the Year® for Colorado?
Oh my goodness, it’s overwhelming. Every day you feel challenged being a mom, so you might not always feel like you’re Mother of the Year®. Still, it’s an incredible honor because it does make me reflect on whom I am raising and the responsibility of being a mother and sharing that with other mothers in the community. It’s really been surreal and it’s been a huge honor.
What do you love most about being a mom?
Seeing how they pick up on your habits or your sayings and then seeing their individuality. My daughters are very, very different. My 14-year-old has special needs. So she’s 14 and has the language of probably a two or three-year-old, so that’s been huge the past couple of years using communication devices and sign language and just understanding her on a different level. She kind of has her own language now. Her sister understands her better than anybody else. My youngest—almost seven years old—she’s typical, so just seeing the dynamic between them and the connection they have is overwhelming. I’m raising some pretty incredible kids. I’m pretty proud of them.
How do you encourage your children to keep going and to persevere when they feel like giving up?
First of all, I tried to be very honest but protective at the same time and just tell them that it’s our job to make it good and make that change and be adaptive. Our world has always been to adapt and overcome, and we just kind of changed the dynamic and find joy within that, so even though it’s hard, let’s throw our own party, let’s build a fort and just make the best of it. It’s been really challenging but it’s also been challenging in a good way where you’re able to learn and have that time to actually do the things that you wanted to do, so it’s just finding that happiness within the heart.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
Before the pandemic, yoga was kind of my place. That was the one thing I really did separate and for me, that I always blocked out once a week, but I also do a lot within different programs and foundations and volunteering and Special Olympics, so that’s kind of given me a different outlet, even though it does revolve around my children, it’s challenged me in ways of marketing, exposure, or making those connections with different companies, so it’s kind of challenged me on a more professional level to which I get a lot out of. It’s so much fun for me, and it’s a learning curve.
At American Mothers, the Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless caring spirit of motherhood and who are using their maternal energy to make the world a better place. How do you exemplify the golden rule in your everyday life?
My daughter started riding an adaptive bike, and within a year, she started pedaling on her own and then steering on her own and just seeing this progress within her in the sense of belonging—in a weird way—that my child is doing something typical. The freedom she saw and the joy and being able to experience that with her, I really wanted other parents to have that experience, and I wanted my daughter to see other kids like her riding together and having that team or that friendship, so my goal now is through my adaptive cycling team. We do fundraising and sponsorships to get adaptive bikes for kids because they’re not covered by insurance. We’ve actually raised close to $10,000 now to get adaptive bikes for kids. I’ve been making relationships with different companies and manufacturers, even overseas, trying to absorb everything about an adaptive bike and finding those kids that have never felt that freedom. Those parents have never had that experience of watching their kids do something they thought they could never do. I leave almost every Special Olympics practice with tears in my eyes. Kids come up to me, hug me, and tell me thank you, knowing why I felt that and getting to see that happiness on their faces and having a child with special needs. You meet another mom like that, and it’s a huge honor being able to do it all. And each year it gets bigger and bigger.
When when we had the idea, I let my daughter pick the color. Her favorite animal is a cat. We don’t have a cat, but she loves all things cat, so we named our team the Cool CATS, and the CATS is an acronym for Children of All Types Succeeding, so then I let her pick the colors, and we have the Cheshire Cat as our logo. They’re at every practice—every single one of them and my seven-year-old—up until COVID, that was the best helper of them all. She looked at all of her teammates no different than herself.
It’s a lot. I don’t have much of a social life, but it’s been so rewarding to see the payout. I honestly don’t feel any less; I just feel complete in a way. I love raising them and knowing that I have a good relationship with my co-parent, and we talk, and he’s involved, so that’s nice.
Ashley Steinbach is a single mother of two beautiful daughters living in Colorado Springs. Ashley’s oldest daughter Avalee was born in 2006 with significant special needs. This is when Ashley’s advocacy began. She navigated the new world of disabilities and around-the-clock care. After the birth of her second daughter Brielee in 2014, Ashley began to create opportunities to include her daughters in programs within the community. Starting her new mission of “inclusive fun for all” through her coaching within Special Olympics and partnership with The Arc Pikes Peak Region. Ashley currently coaches two Special Olympics teams, one being the only Junior Adaptive Cycling team in the State of Colorado. She has continued to advocate on behalf of individuals living with disabilities over the past 13 years. Her passion and love for her daughters show through her dedication and fight for inclusion within the community.