Real Mum Interview : Zumbini Instructor, Ekua Walker
Tell us about yourself
Which 3 things would you like the MumsVillage audience to know about you?
1.) I was one of those girls who dreamed of being a mum. Some of my earliest memories are of me and my sister playing wedding and house with our dolls. At grade school, my best friend and I would came up with elaborate family dramas to play out with our “kids” based on our favorite TV shows. So now that I am a wife and mother, I feel like my little girl dreams came true.
2.) I am a people person. Although I was quite shy as a child, I have always loved getting to be with and know people of all kinds. I started to come out of me shell in middle school and high school as I gained confidence as a singer in choirs and my academics which led me to my group of friends who shared my interests. It became easier for me to connect with people as I realized that all people want is to be seen and heard and if I could be open and make that first step to reach out, the door would open to some of the most amazing relationships.
3.) My faith in God and relationship with Jesus is the most important part of my life. He allows me to be and do so much more than I could ever do on my own. I was blessed to grow up in a Christ- filled home but my faith became my own in middle school when my family moved several times and I had to “start over” each time. He was the friend that I could count on then and through the years even till now. I am humbled and ever grateful.
What is your occupation?
I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Development and Behavior specialty for a major medical foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area. This means physicians in our practice refer patients for developmental assessments when there are concerns for delays of any kind. The most common delays we see are speech and communication delays where an Autism diagnosis is in question and school learning concerns where learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be a concern that needs diagnosis, treatment and support. I trained at Stanford University for undergrad and University of CA San Francisco and have loved this role for almost 10 years.
I know God led me to this area of healthcare in a round-about way as I didn’t even know this specialty existed for a long time. However, I know that I was interested in child (and parent) behavior change. I was passionate about a holistic approach to health and medicine and I wanted a career that would balance well with my desire to be a mom and have time for my family. So, I looked for jobs and internships that allowed me to delve into different aspects of child development, school based health needs and mental health and discovered the NP role encompassed everything I was looking for and more!
The other role I added last year is that of Zumbini instructor. I joined a Zumba studio 5 years ago and loved that my exercise was like a dance party every class. When they offered a training to learn how to bring that love of world music and dance to a parent/child format for children 0-5 years, I said “Sign me up!!!” I teach Zumbini classes weekly at dance studios on my days off from clinic work and now at preschools in a childcare version that does not require the parent to be present. It is a fun, immersive and interactive music experience set to original age-appropriate songs with global rhythms and dance styles. We use scarves, drums, sticks and other instruments to help children build in their innate musical abilities while promoting bonding with caregiver and healthy development in all domains of growth- motor, cognitive, emotional, and social.
We like Numbers
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two amazing daughters- an 8 year old and a 5 year old.
How many diapers do you think you’ve changed?
Thousands- I would estimate over 5,000 total for both my children, baby sibling and others I babysat for over my youth and young adulthood. I would like to believe I used less diapers overall by doing some Elimination Communication/infant potty training when my second was born. I used cloth diapers at home and sat her on the potty when I could. Wish I could have been with her more to fully adopt this style but working full time did not allow for this.
How many selfies/videos of your kids do you take in a week?
Hard to say. I take at least a few each week and used to take more when they were babies than I do now. I also try to balance mindfully staying in the moment with them and stepping out of that moment to take a picture of it. I’d rather enjoy the moment fully by staying in it with them.
Now on to Other Fun Questions
How did becoming a Mum change your personality?
I don’t think it changed my personality but it did make me a more patient, less selfish person. It also changed my understanding of nature vs nurture in how all personalities are shaped.
Before I had my girls, I studied child psychology and child development in school and concluded that nurturing the child by providing structure and rich “garden” of love and experiences is all that was needed to nurture a child the way you wanted them to go. After having my girls and seeing their differences from the delivery room onward, I am now convinced that God uniquely designs each child with their own nature to be in this world in a specific way and we as parents are stewards of their them with their gifts and talents.
We know that a lot of mums strive for balance. What does balance mean to you and your life?
Balance, ahhhh balance! Balance to me is finding harmony in caring for myself, caring for my husband, caring for my children, caring for my patients at work, caring for my community and caring for my home in a way that is fulfilling my God-given purpose. My achieving balance is ever- changing as my children get older. Before I had children, my goal was to fit as much work, exercise, ministry, dates with my husband and time with friends as I could fit into the week as possible. When my first daughter was born, caring for her and my family took over because there was so much to learn and so much to do just to get through a single day. You love being a new mom, but your whole life and priorities change when you are responsible for making another human being and keeping them alive and well!
It is easy to lose balance, especially when so many people and various things are all competing for our attention at the same time. I realized after a couple years that if I don’t keep my cup full, I run out of steam and do everyone around me a disservice.
Now that my children are school aged, they need me in a different way than they did before and this will continue to evolve as they move toward adolescence and young adulthood. So balance now is about mindfulness- being present in the moment with them to really hear their hearts and savor the conversations we have. There are so many teachable moments I wish I could capture them and save them in a jar forever.
What do you do to unwind and recharge?
Sleep, talk to my husband, go out with friends, sleep more, sing, massages, manicure and pedicure. Did I mention sleep?
What is the most memorable thing about being a Ghanaian Mum in California?
The interesting thing about growing up here after only 4 years in Ghana as a small child is that I hold my memories of “home” very close to my heart. being raised by Ghanaian parents in CA had it’s “culture” clashing times but it grounded me in my African heritage and sense of community. It took until college and later to fully embrace my identity. Now, it is such an integral part of how I see myself and how I approach the world along with my faith.
Now, I look for ways to share my values with my girls through daily life. Not speaking Fanti fluently is hard but I can cook the meals and share the stories that add this important aspect of who I am with my family.
How did you choose your kid(s)’ name (s) and what do they mean?
In Ghana, we have day names. Ekua is Wednesday girl in the Fanti tradition and both have the same day name as mine – Ekua – as one of their middle names thanks to the weekday they were born on. My oldest shares the first letter of her name with her father and my youngest got her name from a character in an African children’s book. Their other middle names honor my mother and aunt.
Share your tips with others
What are the top 3 kids’ places for fun in your neighbourhood?
The court where we live is our favorite fun spot to be active together with neighbors who also come out, ride bikes and scooters or play with bubbles and balls. The family gym where I teach Zümbini on Saturday is a blast because when I am on one half teaching class and dancing the comes can come between my room and the kids zone next door files with toys, games and whiteboards for drawing and playing school. If we make time to go someplace more special, we go to an indoor play area for jumping, trampolines or bouncers.
Which activities do you regularly engage in a for recreation with your family?
My girls love to sing and dance so they make up little shows for themselves and I love to watch them be so freely creative and expressive. I lead the children’s choir at my church so we get to enjoy music together at church all the time.
My husband and I renovated our kitchen this year so we enjoy cooking and baking with the girls in there. We put some things at their level so they can reach and move around the kitchen more easily with us. For the holidays, we join a Facebook boot camp called Camp Cake where we made a day of baking holiday treats with the host. It was a blast as the girls went in and out to help create a hat shaped cake, rice crispy treat ornament balls and mitten shaped cookies.
My dream is to live closer to be beach so I can take them there more often.
It takes a village. Who are your go-to people in case of anything?
Sadly, we don’t live near my parents or siblings so we have formed a rich network of friends who are like our family here that we reach out to support. We have a few women who we pay to help out more occasionally with school pick up or date nights now. When they were little we had a nanny who was really helpful too. We have a blessed circle of friends and supporters we call on regularly.
Your Nostalgia of the Past and Hopes for the Future
In what way do you hope the workplace will be different for your kids?
I pray that the glass ceiling for women will be shattered and that my girls will earn what they deserve in whatever careers they choose to conquer. My hope is that they can discover their God-given gifts and passions and be fulfilled in sharing them daily through their work, family and volunteer life.
Do you think being a Paediatric nurse will exist when your kids are your age (why or why not?
Absolutely! Modern Nursing has helped shape healthcare into what it has become today and Nurse Practitioners are an important part of that. Integrating the best of medical assessment and decision making with “whole child” and “while family” care. One of the things that drew me to this role is that people like their doctors but they love their NPs. Additionally, the work-life balance worked for what I was looking for in my career. I know it will continue to evolve in the way the role contributes to healthier children and communities!
I also think parent child music classes will continue to be a fun way to promote healthy development and relationships in the future. I am sure the variety of music styles and formats will grow and shift to include even more cultural diversity.
What is the one thing or experience you never had that you want for your kids?
Seeing more of the world at a young age by growing up in multiple countries (3 or more).
And on the flipside, what is the one thing or experience you wish your child could have from your childhood that they can’t?
I wish they could grow up without so much technology and social media.
What is the most annoying interview question you’ve been asked that you’re glad we didn’t?
When are you going to try for a boy?
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