To further our goal of inspiring and informing our amazing community of moms, we’re profiling women who are redefining the word mom for themselves. Today we’re sharing Valentyna Zolotarova’s story. Valentyna is the owner of Hayabusa Karate in Vancouver. She’s a karate instructor, school teacher and mother. She holds degrees in education, French and Spanish from the University of British Columbia. Currently pregnant, this former six-time Canadian Karate Champion is expecting her second child and still teaching karate to adults and children three years old and up.
Valentyna Zolotarova is Redefining “Mom”
If the word “mom” makes you think of staying home and baking cookies, think again. Valentyna is an entrepreneur who loves the opportunity to experience and exemplify the joy of being an independent, strong, yet family-oriented woman. Valentyna shares, “In our society, many women feel as if they have to choose between their career and their family. I highly disagree. I want every woman to know that she should not have to choose between her family and her career and that both are equally important for a woman’s well being.”
Being a mother, teacher and small business owner isn’t without its obstacles, though. Valentyna says, “My biggest obstacle has always been the shortage of time. From the time I was six, when I started school and intensely practiced karate, piano and ballet, I have always tried to do as much as possible in a day. My life today is quite similar. Being a parent, a karate instructor and a high school teacher does not leave too much spare time in my schedule.” Like many mothers, she doesn’t do it alone. When asked how she overcomes the time crunch, Valentyna says, “My husband and my mother are a great help when it comes to the organization of time and responsibilities. If it wasn’t for their help, I would never be able to keep up this schedule. I am truly blessed and thankful for their support.”
Driven to Succeed
It’s easy to see that Valentyna has been redefining boundaries and working to succeed since childhood. She says, “I hardly remember having free time as a child and that is how I have always liked it. I would get bored otherwise. The challenge was to accomplish the multiple goals that I would set for myself in a limited amount of time.” Her accomplishments have been truly impressive. When asked about she’s proudest of, Valentyna replies, “I have always thought that my proudest accomplishment would be an international medal or the Premier’s Athletic Award, which I was honoured to receive six times. To my surprise, my proudest accomplishment today is training and teaching karate while pregnant.”
Many people react in surprise to see a pregnant karate instructor. Valentyna is clearly redefining what is possible for a martial arts teacher, saying, “I actually believe that my current pregnancy has strengthened me as a karate instructor and an athlete. It has helped me feel the slower moves better. I also find that I explain moves in more detail because I rely less on my body for demonstration.” Pregnancy certainly hasn’t slowed Valentyna down at all. She shares, “I am sure my second child is already absorbing the English, French, Spanish, Russian and Math and Karate lessons that my students and 14 month old son are receiving.”
Teaching and Learning in Parenting
Valentyna does not feel that being a martial artist impacts her parenting. She doesn’t plan on teaching karate to her children unless they have a passion for it, as she did. But motherhood is redefining her all the same. She says, “Motherhood has given me a softer side. It has taught me kindness, forgiveness and understanding. These qualities have given me a strength that I have never felt or experienced before. It is truly amazing how much we can learn from our children.”
When asked what she hopes her children learn from her, Valentyna says, “I want my children to see that no one can define an individual. Society often tries to define us. In reality, there are so many dimensions to each of us that we can only begin to comprehend another by seeing the variety of roles that each one of us plays in life.” In her own life, Valentya says, “I have made mistakes, but I have always worked hard and recognized the importance of my misfortunes when they resulted in strength and even better results. I really do believe that everything happens for a reason and if I could go back in time, I would remind myself of the truth in that statement on a daily basis.” It sounds like she’s setting a great example for her children and her students, and redefining life on her own terms. That’s something to be truly proud of.
Thanks so much, Valentyna, for sharing how you’re redefining “mom”.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.