Cara Donovan is the one of those effortlessly perfect mothers. She is pretty and stylish - always put together. At cocktail parties and fundraisers, she is quick witted and an exceptional conversationist with the ability to talk to anyone. She juggles her two children, her husband Gregg, a full-time job, and numerous volunteering gigs with ease. She never seems to lose her cool when most mothers would crack under pressure. She is one of those mothers you want to dislike out of spite but you can't because she is one of the most amiable people you will ever meet. In a time when it's so easy to get caught up in our own small things, Cara Donovan is a reminder to be positive and look at life with a sense of humor even when there are obstacles in the road.
Newly diagnosed with breast cancer, Cara faces the challenge ahead of her like she does everything that comes her way, with an easy calmness on the surface and unyielding strength beneath it all. "I have two small kids who can't see mom moping around and down and out. So, it's going to be a part of our life right now, but it is not the only part because then the cancer wins and I'm not going to allow that to happen," says Cara. She has made up her mind - she will beat it. "I'm tough," she says with a smile.
Refusing to let cancer define her, it's life as usual for Cara and the wearing of the many hats that so many working mothers do. She will be running the Island, at a business meeting, having dinner with her husband and tucking her children into bed each night. Maybe it's her optimism or the relentless energy she shines, but the obstacle in front of her, Cara will hurdle on over.
Just the facts:
- Grew up in West Roxbury
- Went to Boston Latin School, Boston College (BA in English) and has a Master's in Science from Emerson College for Speech Pathology.
- Married to Gregg Donovan for the past 10 years. They were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend.
- Manages G.A. Donovan Management Consulting Corp and Hub Environmental Services Inc.
- In the summertime, Cara plays in a women's softball league in Brighton. " It's a great group of women (mostly moms) who love the game and love to get out of their house for a night and then go eat nachos at the Green Briar after we play.
- Volunteers and supports local charities and organizations such as St. Peter Academy,South Boston MOMS Club, South Boston Neighborhood House, Shriner's Burn Hospital, "One of my favorite nights is the South Boston Neighborhood House Ladies' Night because it emphasizes shopping locally and donating to the programs that help our own neighborhood."
"Moms" the word:
- Mother to Nora (6) and Andrew (4)
- Best part of the day with the kids? Stories before bedtime definitely not the morning where I feel like an Army Drill Sergeant.
- Favorite thing about being a Southie mom? I love being able to walk across the street to the park, or to the library. I also love running around Castle Island with my fellow Southie mom friends at ridiculously early hours of the morning.
- Most valuable thing that you learned from your mother? Go play with your kids because the housework will always be there. And "put on a bit of lipstick".
- What advice would you give a new mom?
- Please sleep whenever you can. If breastfeeding is not working out for you, don't beat yourself up about it and give the kid a bottle. You're not a bad mother if you use formula. (I did nurse my kids for 7-9 months but I can't stand when people make you feel terrible if you don't.)
- Favorite old school kids game that you have taught your own children and still love to play? Santa brought Perfection for Christmas and all my childhood competitiveness came right back. We are also big fans of Twister. When they are a little older, I am going to teach them the card game 45 which my Dad taught me. Rummy 500 will also be on the list.
What would your ideal Mother's Day be?
My ideal Mother's Day would involve a great Irish fry for breakfast with my extended family like my Dad used to make Sunday mornings, maybe a run around Castle Island, a lazy afternoon watching a movie on the couch with Nora and Andrew (and not even folding laundry while I watch it), reading a book while Gregg tubs the kids and gets them ready for bed, and then having Gregg take me out for a fancy-pants dinner!
Because Mother's Day is opportunity to thank moms, this is our chance to thank Cara Donovan for being an inspiration to us all. Mothers are the glue that holds a family together, and the fibers that strengthen the fabric of our community. "If you don't get involved in your community, you're not going to have one at all. The moms of South Boston get involved whether it's to help our non-profits succeed, to motivate politicians to listen to mothers concerns or to make our schools a great place to go," says Cara.
Cara exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding mother who is not only dedicated to her family but also dedicated to South Boston. She is loving, generous, courageous and strong. And if anyone deserves the perfect Mother's Day, it's Cara Donovan our May Character of the Month.
Photography by Deb McCarthy