Nicole Ari Parker smile and no-nonsense spirit warmed our hearts in the series adaptation of the hit movie “Soul Food.” The series was a hit as well. And when we found out that her on-screen co-star, Boris Kodjoe, were in a real relationship off screen, it seemed as though nothing was stopping Nicole. But she reached uncharted territory upon the birth of their daughter Sophie. Sophie was born with spina bifida–a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings.

At first, she admits she was frazzled. But as a mother and a wife, she’s learned many lessons that we all can benefit from:

“I think Sophie is so strong, but part of the anxiety was the normal mom worrying about the future,” Nicole says. “Okay, how is this going to happen? How are we going to get to school? How do we explain to the teachers that we have to show up every 3 hours and interrupt her and get her attention and say ‘Let’s go to the bathroom?’ What about her friends? What about when she starts dating? She can’t do sleepovers. She still sleeps in a diaper. What about the questions?”

The mother of two said she’s learned to overcome her anxiety by taking things one day at a time. “Someone said, ‘Answer the question that’s asked.’ Meaning, don’t worry about what’s going to happen when she’s 14. If a 5-year-old classmate comes up to you and says, ‘Mrs. Kodjoe, why are you always here?’ and I say, ‘To help Sophie go to the bathroom.’That’s the answer to the question. And you know what happens? They all go, ‘okay.’ And I don’t have to put any more on it. So that was the beginning of my healing process was each day at a time.”

“With Sophie’s Foundation, we are extremely excited and motivated to be a voice for those unheard, and to provide education about prevention and a possible cure for this most preventable birth defect,” beams Nicole.

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