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state mother of the year
Dena Fahlquist, 2024 New Mexico Mother of the Year.

Dena Fahlquist

February 12, 2024

About

Bio

Dena was born and raised in San Diego, California, but has called Albuquerque, New Mexico, her home for the better part of her life. She married her college sweetheart, a native New Mexican, who introduced her to red and green chili, the beautiful Sandia Mountain views, and the magic of luminarias during the holidays. Dena is an Educational Audiologist by day and a Super Mom by night. She has two young children who fill her mornings, evenings, and weekends with equal parts love, laughter, and insanity. Dena is passionate about working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children ages 18 months through 18 years old during her work week. Although busy, she also enjoys losing herself in a good book, carving out time with her girlfriends, taking deep breaths outdoors, and cozying up with her kids on cabin vacations.

Parenting Philosophy

When I became a mother, I never gave parenting styles much thought because I felt every family puts one foot before the other to survive and succeed in today’s culture. Over the years, we have tried to understand our family unit and what values are important to us as we raise our children. My parenting style is equal parts authoritative and attachment. From the beginning, I tried to create a loving and safe relationship and connection with my children. As they have grown, I support them as best I can while valuing their efforts and interests. Their expression of emotion is hugely important in our household. For example, we put my son in soccer when he was three, but he would burst out in an inconsolable tantrum every time we went. He was communicating with us that this was not an activity he enjoyed. We listened, respected this, and pulled him out of soccer. We have now found activities he enjoys. We also work on recognizing our feelings and emotions. We try our best to communicate everything clearly to our children to establish a sense of mutual respect, understanding, and trust while also setting clear boundaries and expectations. We are very open about discussing events ahead of time and reflecting on activities or situations that have occurred in the past. I want to encourage my children to be curious, explore their surroundings, and ask questions to understand the world around them today and for years to come.

Motherhood and Community

I found connections and friendships through a local community called “ABQ Mom” and later became a contributing writer for their team. I wanted to share my voice and experience as a mother, hoping they would help another young parent. I have written about sleepless newborn nights, my unique coming-of-age experience with a Filipina mother, and my journey with a child with allergies, asthma, and eczema. I have realized that my words make a difference. When I meet someone who tells me that they read an article I wrote or I helped them navigate the food allergy world, it makes my heart burst with joy. ABQ Mom led me to create the ABQ Mom Book Club. I was searching for an inclusive and supportive book club for moms that provided connection, friendship, and support through each stage of motherhood while gathering over a good book. The book club has grown and evolved so much! When I started the group in 2021, COVID-19 was still a worry on everyone’s mind, so we held virtual meetings. Today, our group of 8-30 people meet in person because we found that moms are starving for face-to-face connection, and we all need a break from the daily demands of parenting. I lead the discussions monthly and have partnered with a local woman-owned bookstore to provide a safe and inclusive place to gather over a shared interest. My son attends a small, non-profit community preschool that relies heavily on volunteers and donations. I have been so impressed by their approach to education that I volunteered my time to hold a position on the Parent Board. I am currently the Silent Auction Chair. I head our largest fundraising event that usually fulfills our wish list of much-needed items to keep the school operating. While my job feels like a slight drop in a big pond, I know I am putting forth a significant effort to support my children’s education and our community. Finding connections and building relationships in parenthood is so important.

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