Sometimes we hold up the idea of keeping balance as if it’s a state of perfection, as if we could get that seesaw to stay perfectly aligned for more than a few seconds. Shalette Garcia, wife, mother of two girls and a consultant for Scholastic Book Fairs, has a different definition of keeping balance.
“Being balanced is doing what you have to do,” she said. “Life is life.”
Since Garcia’s husband works out of town, the day-to-day parenting primarily rests on her shoulders. She’s learned how manage the crazy moments by planning fun weekends with her girls, watching birds in her backyard and spending daily time with God.
WACOAN: How do you pronounce your name?
Garcia: [Shy]lette Garcia. Everybody calls me Shy for short.
WACOAN: Have you always had that nickname?
Garcia: Oh yeah. Since I was a little girl. And I’m far from shy.
WACOAN: So it does not describe you?
Garcia: [Laughs] No.
WACOAN: Are you from Waco?
Garcia: I’ve been living in Waco all my life. I went to University High School, graduated in 2004. I did move away for about six months to Phenix City, Alabama.
WACOAN: Do you have family here?
Garcia: Yes, ma’am. I do have family support, no matter how big or small, my family helps me.
WACOAN: What did you do after high school?
Garcia: After high school I was supposed to go to college, but there were different plans for me. I became a mother at the age of 19. I knew right then it was time to grow up.
I graduated [McLennan Community College] with an associate’s degree in art. I went to MCC for nursing — that was my intention, and that didn’t happen. I worked as a caregiver for about five years, a home health caregiver.
WACOAN: So you went from nursing to art?
Garcia: I really had no intention to graduate with art, but a friend was like, ‘You know you can graduate because you have so many credits.’ So I thought I might as well just graduate with an associate’s in art. I had no plans for an arts degree.
I had two girls and was just trying to get away from college for a while.
WACOAN: Tell me about your two girls.
Garcia: Mia is 12. She’ll be 13 in May. Kya, she’s my youngest. She’s 11 years old. When I came up with those names, it was simple and short — we don’t need nicknames.
WACOAN: Where do they go to school?
Garcia: Rapoport Academy. They’ve been there for — Kya was in kindergarten, so for seven years. I’d heard of Rapoport, and the only campus that was open was the East Campus. When I went and filled out paperwork, they said we’d be on the waiting list for two years. So we decided to stay at Lake Waco Montessori at the time.
Then we moved to Phenix City, Alabama, and when we came back, the North Campus opened up down the street from where we lived, and I applied and they got in. [Editor’s note: Currently, the East Campus serves pre-K through first grade and the North Campus serves second through fourth grades.]
WACOAN: Are they both in middle school or is one still in elementary?
Garcia: Both in middle school. It starts at fifth at Rapoport. It’s a very good academic school. The teachers, they love them. The classes are so small — that’s what I love about it.
Whenever Lake Waco Montessori consolidated with Lake Waco Middle [School], there was so many students. I volunteered, and I noticed there were 24 students to one teacher. When I saw there was an opening at Rapoport down the street, the classes are 16-17 students per teacher. It’s very small. They can build that relationship with the teacher.
WACOAN: What are your girls involved in, outside of school?
Garcia: The oldest one, she did singing and modeling for a while. She did that for about two years. As of now she’s in soccer and track — she plays sports for Rapoport. Soccer is at [Heart of Texas Soccer].
Kya, she just does soccer right now. They enjoy it.
Saturdays, right now we’re practicing for a praise dance for our church for Easter Sunday, so we’ve been busy with that.
It’s one thing after another. I love every bit of it because I grew up doing athletics my whole life — cheerleader, then in junior high I did every sport. I even wanted to play football. I love every bit of it. Everyone says you gotta enjoy it now because it’s not gonna last long.
WACOAN: You mentioned doing something for Easter Sunday. Where do you go to church?
Garcia: Church of the Open Door in Bellmead. Pastor Ronnie and Pastor Kim [Holmes]. We’ve been there since 2010. I love the church.
WACOAN: Is the dance performance something they do every year?
Garcia: This is our second time doing this. We did one — it was years ago. This is not something they do every year. We’re super excited.
My sister and I were involved in the first one. This is the first one we have to be [in charge of]. I’m like, ‘Lord, we did this years ago. We don’t know what we’re doing.’ We gave Pastor Ronnie a list of songs, and he chose ‘The Hill’ by Travis Greene. I love that song! So we’re doing it, and we’re like, ‘Lord help us!’ It’s me, my sister, a friend and my two girls.
WACOAN: Tell me about your husband.
Garcia: My husband, Roman Garcia, he travels. Roman and I will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary on June 28 this year. April 7 will make 15 years that we’ve been together!
He’s a wind turbine technician. Right now he’s in Pittsburgh. Even though he is on the road, his words are sweet and encouraging when I start feeling overwhelmed with keeping up. He helps with homework when I have a tough time. We take pics of the [math] problem, and he works it out, explaining step by step. He is awesome!
I love traveling. I love getting on the road, but I’ve never had the guts to [go see him]. He had a job in Idaho last summer, so I said, ‘We’re gonna go on a road trip!’ We drove all the way to Idaho, just me and my girls. The girls slept most of the way. I prayed the whole way. We saw the scenery — it’s so beautiful. I’m an outdoorsy person, so I loved it. We experienced natural springs, we actually swam in one where it had different temperatures.
That was a growth moment for me. After a friend of mine passed away in a car accident, I dealt with anxiety on the highway. Sometimes the GPS didn’t always work — it’d cut out in some areas. We were in Pocatello, Idaho. That was a great experience.
WACOAN: Do you have plans to do something similar this summer? Plan a vacation around where he’s working?
Garcia: We’re hoping for that.
WACOAN: With your husband working out of town much of the time, how do you handle parenting?
Garcia: Oh! First of all, I start my day, I wake up at 5 a.m. and spend an hour with the Lord, in his Word, praising him, meditating on the Scripture. I do a lot of Bible studies on the app on my phone.
My daughter, she’ll be a teenager soon, so I’m doing a Bible study on the ‘The 10 Myths of Teen Dating’ [by Daniel Anderson and his daughter Jacquelyn Anderson]. Aligning my life with the Lord’s word is what helps me get through it. Parenting without [my husband] is tough, but it’s a sacrifice we’re making right now.[The girls] have chores that they do. We clean up every Friday before the weekend. If you want to do anything for the weekend, you have to do your chores beforehand. Mia does the living room, Kya does the bathroom, I do the kitchen — we all have our areas where we clean. Sometimes we start on Thursday. Every Wednesday is church. So we have our little schedule, and they’re good with that. Bedtime is 9 o’clock, but seems like it’s 9:30 or 10 lately. They’re pretty structured kids, and they help out a lot.
Every summer I disconnect the cable. We don’t do TV in the summertime because I want them to be involved outside. My youngest one loves to draw and paint. I’ll challenge her to draw something. My oldest one, I call her Mamma Mia, she always corrects her sister. She helps me out a lot. She likes her Instagram and Snapchat, and sometimes she’ll get on her keyboard and sing — she loves to sing and is a great singer.
WACOAN: How did you come up with that rule about no TV in the summer?
Garcia: I don’t know. I had seen them sitting on the couch, tuned into television.
When they were babies, the only things we watched was anything that was going to help them develop. But it changed. It’s not the same ‘Sesame Street’ that it was when they were babies. TV has changed so much from when I was a kid. Certain commercials come up. I wanted to avoid them being exposed to certain things I’m not ready for them to be exposed to. They curse now on TV.[The girls are] not into Disney Channel anymore, so what else would they be watching on TV? When we do have cable, the only thing they watch is Travel Channel or National Geographic [Channel] or the Cooking Channel, but now they don’t want to watch it so much, so they just do without it.
WACOAN: You said you have family in Waco. Are they able to help you out, like if the girls both have to be in different places at 5 p.m.?
Garcia: My family is great; everybody works. Although my mother, Cynthia, works a lot, whenever I need her to get the girls from school she finds a way to do that for me. My sister Sheena, whenever I want to hang out with my friends she will keep my girls for the night or a couple of hours. My [husband’s stepmother,] Vicky, when I don’t have time to do laundry, she does it for me. [His mother,] Cletha, will also get the girls from school for me.
I’m very thankful that I have a job that works around my schedule. Scholastic is the best job I’ve ever had, very family-oriented. They work around my schedule. Soccer practice is at 5:30 [p.m.] Tuesday [and] Thursday, so I go in an hour early and they’re OK with that.
WACOAN: What do you do at Scholastic? I’ve looked at that building for years and wondered what exactly Scholastic does there.
Garcia: My territory is out in California. It’s like a call center, so our job is to make sure our school book fairs run smoothly. We make sure they have a plan to get the parents involved, the principals involved, that their dates are correct. During the book fair we call and check in on them. We place restock orders if they need them. We’re their support system.
I just recently got a stand-up desk, which I love.
WACOAN: I’m talking to you from my stand-up desk! I use it for all my interviews.
Garcia: It makes my phone calls a lot better, and there’s no way I can fall asleep. Now that I’m standing up, there’s no time for that. I feel like my phone calls are a whole lot better — I’m more upbeat. It feels like you’re walking and talking with people.
WACOAN: Scholastic Book Fairs were always a high point of the year for my kids.
Garcia: It’s so funny because I think back to my childhood, and I would see Clifford [the Big Red Dog], so we knew the book fair was coming and we got super excited. Now I’m like, ‘Oh, this is what was going on behind the scenes.’
When the girls were in elementary school, before Mia went to middle school, I’d give them $20 — $10 for you and $10 for you. I’d tell them, ‘Buy a book first, then you can buy a school supply or a toy.’ I didn’t want them to spend all their money on toys. That was our agreement.
They ended up loving reading.
Reading has always been a big thing for them. When they attended Lake Waco Montessori, they had to read for 20 minutes a day, and Rapoport is same way.
Growing up I wasn’t a big reader. Now that I understand, from being a book fair consultant, that when kids are able to choose a book they enjoy reading, then they enjoy it. I was always told what books to read, so I never liked reading. Now that I’m older, I’ve discovered that I like historical fiction. I’ve read a lot about the Holocaust. I love books that talk about real life, real people, real issues. It took me working for Scholastic to find my genre of reading.
WACOAN: Anything you’ve read recently that you’d like to shout out?
Garcia: ‘Unashamed’ by Lecrae [Moore]. One day I’m gonna go to one of his concerts. He’s a Christian rapper.
WACOAN: It sounds like a lot of your weekends have soccer, but when your girls aren’t playing sports, what do you like to do in Waco when you have some free time?
Garcia: During the week I’ll say [to the girls], ‘What do you want to do on the weekend?’ They write down everything they want to do. We tear off pieces of paper, and we put it in a bowl. We’ll do paper-rock-scissors to see who will pull. Whatever they pull, that’s what we do. Most of the time that’s something big. We’ll go bowling or to the jumping place, drive out of town to Dave & Buster’s. When we’re doing nothing, we’re on the couch, resting. We’ll sit on the back patio, I’ll drink coffee.
I love bird-watching, so that’s what I do a lot. I noticed there were red birds in the backyard. They’re so beautiful. I need to get a bird bath out there. My yard is always filled with birds. My neighbors have a lot of trees — we have not one tree. [The birds are] just out in the ground. My dogs will come bolting out of the back door, chasing them.
I’m an outdoorsy person. I told my husband I want a telescope this year for Christmas so I can look at the stars. Some days we’ll go to Cameron Park and hike the trails. We’ll do a picnic in the park. We stay pretty busy even when we’re not busy.
WACOAN: How do you take care of yourself?
Garcia: I try to stay healthy. I work out about three days out of the week. Everything I do is by the grace of God.
I wake up at 5 [a.m.]. I don’t use an alarm. That’s God’s way of saying, ‘That’s our time together.’ I’m usually up 4:59 every day. I spend an hour with him. I wake the girls up about 6, and they get up about 6:30. In that time frame I clean my face, brush my teeth, start working out. While the girls are getting ready, I’ll dash to the bedroom, pull my clothes from the closet. I told my girls, ‘When you utilize your time correctly, you can get a lot done. When you lollygag and procrastinate, you don’t.’ I use every minute to make it count.
By that time they’re ready for school, so we leave about 7:30. I come home. I’ll fix my breakfast and lunch. Every Sunday I prechop all of my vegetables, my fruit, because that takes up most of my time. I take my lunch [break] at 3 [p.m.]. I take a late lunch, so I take a lot of snacks [to work]. The girls get out at 3:40, so I’ll get them on my lunch break, then I’m back to work.
As of now, this past week, they decided they wanted to start staying at the [Doris Miller Family YMCA], now that they’re older, to hang out with their friends there. I’m OK with that. Before the girls started staying at the Y after school, their grandparents kept them after school and made sure their homework was done.
I get an hour lunch break, and now I don’t know what to do with that time because I’m used to using that time to get them. Now I can have lunch with a friend. But so far I’ll come home, check on the dogs, let them go potty.
WACOAN: So what are your regular work hours?
Sometimes it’s crazy. When it starts to get crazy, I pray, ‘Lord, give me patience!’ I pray in the moment most of my day. Having to be at work at 9 helps me.
On the days my girls have to be at [soccer] practice, on Tuesday [and] Thursday, I go in at 8 so I can take them. They know that’s my early morning, so they make sure they have their clothes pulled out and they’re prepared. But nothing changes as far as me spending time with the Lord and working out for 30 minutes.
WACOAN: And you work out at home?
Garcia: I will jog on the treadmill for five to 10 minutes. [Then] I have days where I’ll do my lower body, abs and legs, and then days I do my arms and chest and back.
WACOAN: How do you define keeping balance for yourself?
Garcia: Sometimes I feel like I’m off-balance. I was raised by a single mother. She had four kids — you gotta do what you have to do. On the mornings I’m like, ‘Oh, this will be a busy day,’ my time with the Lord is him holding me: This is your life and this is what you have to do. My balance comes from God being at the center of it.
My daughters understand my busy life, and they do their best to make it smooth for me. I’m not gonna deny my girls anything they want to do because I want to make my life easier — they are my life. Whatever they want to do, I make it happen.
I don’t do much of anything. My girls consume my life, and I’m OK with that. They’re my life. I can’t be running around, getting in trouble. I try to lead by example. They’re gonna have their own family one day and be women.