Mubarakah says she encounters many myths about her religion, including her heritage. "People automatically think I'm from another country, but my mother's family is Cherokee and my father's African-American, so I'm as American as it gets," she says. An open attitude helps Mubarakah deal with misconceptions. "If people don't understand, I just try to be very personable with it," she says. "I'm very open as far as questions."
Commitment to her religion requires Mubarakah to pray five times daily, whether she's working with a client, at the movies, or in her living room. Still, she says that American Muslims are just like any other Americans. "We're no longer immigrants or converts to Islam, but rather American-born Muslims that lead regular American lives. [We] incorporate our Islam beliefs and practices into our every day," Mubarakah says. "In the end, all our goals are the same. All of us want to raise our kids to be contributing members of society, to be healthy, to be happy. And no matter where you choose to worship, every woman wants to know, 'How do you get rid of cellulite?'"
As a mother of eight, Angela is spending her 30s on a tight schedule. With no nanny, no babysitter and no housekeeper, Amy does household chores from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.—plus, she homeschools her kids! "I've been a mom for 19 years," she says. "I do not try to be 'supermom.' I know that's not who I am."
From the 19-year-old to the 3-year-old, everyone pitches in around the house. "There's a lot to be done each day, but the kids help me with everything from making beds to washing dishes, and cooking food and [doing] laundry," Angela says. "We all pull together, and that's what really works for us to keep things going."
Taking charge of educating all eight children is a challenge, but Angela tries to add an element of fun to each day. "My goal is not to give my children lots of chores and schoolwork," she explains. "I want them to love doing all these things in the process. I think that fun builds relationships, and I want that for them."
While eight kids definitely keep her busy, Angela says having nine or even 10 isn't out of the question. "I would love more kids," she says. "We have never placed a number on our family. We've always just been open to having children." Her youngest child is almost 3, and Angela says in the past she's always had another baby by this point. "Usually by now I'm nursing somebody. I don't have one to nurse right now."
A large family comes with its own set of issues, but for Angela, the joys far outweigh the drama. "Being a mom of so many children, it can be stressful at times," she says. "I guess for some it would be a burden, but for myself, I feel this is my calling. I am living the life that I want to live. I would choose no other."
As a first-generation Mexican-American, Yvette says she grew up in two different worlds—one foot in Mexico, the other in the U.S. "At home we would cook Mexican food, my dad would listen to music [from] Mexico," she says. "But at school I had friends from all backgrounds. We watched MTV. We listened to Madonna."
Yvette says that experience allowed her to see different perspectives of life in America. "I was fortunate that because I had mastered the language, I wasn't discriminated against," she says. "But my parents had a lot of difficulties because they couldn't speak English as well."
For Yvette, like many Hispanics, family is everything. Almost every weekend, she drives two and a half hours to visit them. "Family is not just about Christmas and special occasions," she says. "It's about having that connection on a regular basis."
When Jenna and her husband, Mike, got married, they thought life would be perfect. Soon after the wedding they set their sights on starting a family. "Everything came exactly the way it was supposed to," Jenna says. "The jobs. The wedding. The home. And [the only] missing piece is the children."
After trying to conceive naturally, and several months on fertility drugs, Jenna was given devastating news—she would not be able to conceive children on her own. Her only option was in vitro fertilization, an expensive and often painful process. Finally, Jenna got pregnant, only to lose the baby at 11 weeks. "It was horrifying," she says. "We were supposed to hear the heartbeat, and [the doctor] just said, 'I can't find it.' So in that moment, everything that we had started to let ourselves believe again was gone."
Jenna says that her inability to get pregnant led to feelings of shame. "I should be able to bear children," she says. "That's the basic difference between a man and a woman physically—the ability to bear children. And I can't do that." She also feels like she's not living the life she planned. "I'm in my early 30s and the people around me are having children and living their lives, and I feel like I'm stuck," Jenna says. "I feel like I'm in a place where I can't move on until I get some closure to this."
While she is beginning to accept that she might never have children of her own, Jenna says she hasn't yet made peace with that prediction. "I'm a teacher. My life's goal is to help kids grow, to watch them be nurtured. And for me to be able to let that go? I'm not ready for that," she says. "We will adopt, or we will have foster children. But I can't let go of not being a mom."
When Jennifer turned 30, she decided to live her life with no regrets. Her first move? Writing her own obituary. "I wrote my obituary just like if I died tomorrow," she says. "Then I pretended I was an 80-year-old woman looking back at my life, and I didn't want to have any regrets. So being older, looking back, what would I change?" Jennifer says writing the obituary led to her decision to become a stay-at-home mom for her two kids.
In her obit, Jennifer describes her life: "I often wore a smile on my face. I loved people and did not know how to hate. I learned to live my life authentically, and received my satisfaction and joy from watching my children grow, and I am so very proud of them for being themselves and having such caring and loving hearts." Jennifer says one good thing about writing your own obituary is learning to say good things about yourself. "If you say positive things about yourself, you want to make sure you're living that life."
Jennifer says she updates her obituary often, and as she tells Oprah, "I'm going to update it when I get home, because my dream of 20 years was to meet you!"
Printed from Oprah.com on
© 2014 OWN, LLC. All Rights Reserved.