life-stories-series-Kim-hissah-Abu Dhabi

Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you want the world to know about YOU? 

My name Is Dr. Kimberly Deatherage-Mominah and I have lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the past 13 years.  I was born and raised in the Southern part of the United States but transplanted myself in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following my Saudi husband.  We have been married for 20+ years. I am married, have four daughters and a very spoiled cat.  In addition, my oldest daughter and her husband blessed me with a grandson this past year.  I have a BA in General Psychology, an MS in Counseling Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology.  I have worked in the business sector, higher education, and in the counselling field and my work experience has occurred in the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Describe a typical day in your life.

My typical day is currently changing.  I left my position as a faculty member in a private Saudi university to pursue my Ph.D. in Social Psychology.  The past 5 years has involved studying, writing, and researching while trying to take care of my family.  I recently graduated and have started a part-time position with my former university employer, as well as I have contracted out counselling services to another organization.  I am in a major transition period of trying to reenter the world of work while helping my children and husband adjust from a world where “Mom was physically usually working on her dissertation” to “Mom being physically out of the home” a couple days a week.  I wake up at 6:00 am to help my daughters get ready for school and out the door.  I usually spend 20-30 minutes practicing yoga and then attack my emails.   I typically spend about 8-10 hours a day working on professional obligations either in my home or physically at the location where I am providing services.  I always make sure to squeeze in at least a 15 minute Facetime session with my oldest daughter and grandson who live in the United States.  Somewhere in between all of this I am also acting as a referee, chef, and house manager for my family.  My husband is an international commercial airline pilot and is often away on flights, so although I am married, I often play the role of being a single parent.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during your journey to where you are today?

I think all of us have had to overcome challenges in our lives.  My biggest challenge overall has been learning to balance my professional activities and goals with my family.  I gave birth to my first daughter shortly after turning 20 years old and was a sophomore in college.  My first marriage to my daughter’s family was short lived and lasted less than five years.  I had to balance working, going to school, and being a single mother at a young adult age.  My second husband and I waited to have children 7 years into our marriage because we wanted to make sure our mixed cultural marriage was going to work before we brought children into the world.  Even though I was older when I had my last three children, I still have found myself trying to balance my various roles.

My ultimate challenge came over two years ago when I was faced with the death of my infant son.  His passing brought me to the lowest depth of despair and feeling as if I had no control over my life that I have ever experienced.  Shortly after his death, I was also diagnosed with lupus, which is an autoimmune disease.  My son’s death and my lupus diagnosis made me reevaluate what were the most important aspects of my life.  I made it through this period by shedding man tears, trying to improve my physical health through yoga and cleaner eating, and realizing that I cannot control all aspects of my life.  This situation also taught me that words do not always fix our challenges in life, and we have to process those emotions to come to some sort of resolution.  You would think as a counselor I would have realized this, but this was a situation where I had to learn to “practice what I had been preaching”.

Who would you describe as a role model and why?

This question made me laugh because of a recent experience where someone asserted that someone could not be a role model unless they shared the same background as another person.  I know my daughters and former students have told me I am a role model for them, but to be real honest when people tell me this I am puzzled.  I haven’t always made the best decisions for myself on my journey professionally, or personally.  The only aspect I can think of perhaps of why they may see me as a role model, is I may fall down at times because of decisions I have made, and at times because of circumstances beyond my control, but I stand back up and strive towards persevering on my important life goals and important responsibilities.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.

I am extremely introverted and value my quiet downtime.  Social settings with lots of people leave me emotionally drained.  I tend to pick up on people’s body language, emotions, and underlying comments, which is something I have done since I was a child.  I prefer more intimate social settings with people that I feel comfortable with.

What is one piece of advice about how to cope with challenges/struggles you face in life that you would like to give to the world?

Life experiences and challenges will change us, but the one aspect of what we control in these situations is how we let us transforms us.  It is our choice of whether that transformation is positive or negative.

What is ONE word that you feel defines you? (It could be your profession, a personality trait, or a quality you possess).

Open minded