Canada’s Deborah Cox gets set to return to Broadway in September as American icon Josephine Baker. The role is challenging, but so is keeping your family healthy.
Deborah Cox was a busy woman in 2009. The Juno award-winning singer blew up the airwaves with her single, “Beautiful U R”, performed during Pride Week in Toronto and participated in the “David Foster and Friends” tour across the United States. And she did all of this while raising her children, Isaiah, Sumayah and Kalia, who was born in February 2009. With help from her husband, Lascelles Stephens, Deborah maintains a hectic work schedule and remains a devoted mom, living in Miami. She spoke to ParentsCanada about the challenges of keeping her children healthy, especially when one has allergies, and her homage to motherhood, The Queen Project.
PC: Now that you’re living in Florida, have you been to Disneyworld?
DC: Yes. Here’s some advice. If you have kids, only tell them about Disneyworld the day before. Because if you tell them way in advance, they will ask you every day, every hour, on the hour: “When are we going to Disneyworld? Is it tomorrow?” Every single day. This time I was smart. I had a show in Orlando, so we took in Magic Kingdom. It was spontaneous. They didn’t know until that morning and it was good.
PC: On the other hand, you can use the trip as bribery for good behaviour.
DC: Oh, it’s all about bribery! My daughter is a bit of a sugar addict, so if I want to get her to do anything, I bribe her with fruit snacks.
PC: I saw her drinking organic juice boxes; do you do organic everything?
DC: Yes, totally organic. Only because my son has a lot of food allergies – gluten, nuts, wheat, dairy and fish. His diet consists of rice-based and corn-based stuff, and soy. It’s really tough travelling, because we can’t eat out. His food has to be specially prepared. We do a lot of brown rice and pasta. Once I found out he was allergic to pretty much everything, we became strictly organic. I am meticulous about the things he eats because I know he has all these special diet needs and I want to make sure that its taken care of.
PC: Aside from your son’s diet and allergies, do you worry about your children’s health?
DC: When they were younger I used to. Now I don’t, because I know they’re in good hands when I’m away. When I’m on tour, my husband and my mother-in-law are here and I know the kids are well taken care of. I know if they get sick it is probably something they caught at school because we’re very conscious of what we eat at home. We eat a certain way – the whole family. I know that their meals are being properly prepared, I know they’re getting their vitamins, I know what’s going on and I know their grandmother takes very good care of them, as well.
PC: Did you all get your H1N1 shot?
DC: Oh no! I don’t believe in this whole one-size-fits-all when it comes to vaccines and flu shots and all that. The flu shot, I found out, is egg-based and my son can’t get that because he is allergic to eggs. Thermasol is in the shot, which is mercury – I have a problem with these vaccines that have mercury in them as a preservative, because a lot of those things lead to other things. And, I have a lot of friends that have children with autism, so I have a very clear point of view when it comes to vaccinations. I had a bad experience when my daughter was vaccinated. She ended up with an abscess on her neck. My youngest daughter, I had her vaccinated, and she was sick for two months. I’m not going to become Jenny McCarthy about it, but I’m very, very cautious when it comes to getting those kind of shots. Because honestly, what is the difference between the H1N1 flu and any other flu? There’s this media hype to get everyone vaccinated unnecessarily when your body has specific things already, naturally, that fight certain things. So, I would rather build up my children’s immunity than give them a shot unnecessarily.
PC: So are you guys big on vitamins?
DC: Oh, big on vitamins, yeah. But I am more about real foods. About getting your nutrients from an apple, an organic apple. Or just getting it from living foods. I know the kids eat way better than I do. When I’m on the road I try to be disciplined, but it’s very hard to eat that way. But for the kids, it’s all about really cooking the food and getting their veggies and stuff in there.
PC: Sometimes home cooking doesn’t happen in families.
DC: It’s tough. With parents working, you don’t have a stay-at-home mom or stay-at-home dad. It’s very difficult. Everything is so quick and fast. There’s not a lot of time to do things anymore. I know my lifestyle is a blessing in that I am able to be with my kids a lot of the time and I can be very hands-on. I know there are mothers out there who are trying to hold it down themselves, or even parents out there that both have to work, and they don’t get a lot of time with their kids and they don’t get a chance to really stay on top of their nutrients to make sure they are getting a well-balanced diet. The only resort is to grab some fast food. Fortunately, you have restaurants that are starting to cook things healthier, you know?
PC: What kinds of physical activities are the kids involved with?
DC: Right now, my son has been talking about karate, karate, karate. I have to get him involved. He was doing basketball for a bit and soccer, but again with the time factor, those are things we have to take into consideration. Like, who’s going to take him? If I’m not here and my husband’s not here, we have to make sure someone can drive and take him to the lessons. I absolutely believe in getting your kids involved in extracurricular activities because that’s how I grew up, in dance classes, judo and karate. Even though we’re all girls, we did everything. I really thank my parents for exposing us to so many different activities.
PC: Your son was dancing at the photo shoot. He seems destined for showbiz!
DC: He just did a play, “The Lion and the Mouse” and he was the lion. He was really good and he really got into the role. He has always loved animals so I think he was destined to play the role. But, I think you’re right! I think he’s probably going to be in the performing arts some way, somehow. And I’m prepared for that! I’ve been in the business long enough; I know the ins and outs of it, and I am glad that I will be able to steer him in a direction where he knows not to get all crazed out with the whole fame thing.
PC: What’s The Queen Project all about?
It’s a project that myself, Tamia and Kelly Price have put together.
We’ve recorded some songs and have decided to do an album, and it’s
really an empowering women’s project. We sing songs that deal with
different types of issues. Our main focus is women because we’re moms
and we’re in an industry that tells you that if you’re a mother or
working mother, you ain’t cute enough, or sweet enough, or look good
enough to be in this business. We’re here to say, hey, you can still be a
mommy and still have values and still raise your kids and still be a
working mom; whether you’re in the music business or not. We decided to
come together and spread that message and remind women they were born
Published March 2010