Meet Badass Mom Tara Pucci
Tara Pucci is one of those moms whose effortless style and envious outfits make us stop and stare. But it’s her down-to-earth nature that makes us want to get to know her. A little over a year ago, the Brooklyn-based mama-of-two (Ian, 7 and Bruna Coco, 3) tragically lost her husband Pierluigi to late-stage cancer. In a matter of months, her world was turned upside down. Here, she shares her story of moving forward despite a devastating loss, and gathering strength from her children as they honor their dad. Tara’s commitment to her kids and her path to resilience is an inspiration to us all, and a reminder that even under the hardest of circumstances, happiness and laughter can be found in our community of family and friends.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it shaped who you are today?
I was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin. I was taught to work hard for what you want. I have never had a sense of entitlement or thought things should be handed to me. I was also raised with my older brother, whom I adored—which wasn’t always mutual—so I am a pretty tough chick from all the torture I endured.
How have you found the strength to move forward when struggling with the unexpected loss of your husband and father of your children?
All of my strength comes from my children. When you have children, it’s no longer about you. They lost as well and they need me to make sure they are okay. It’s not an option to crumble. I am strong for them and for my husband.
All of my strength comes from my children.
Tell us how you met your husband.
I met Pierluigi on a yacht in Newport Beach, CA, then again a few weeks later at a Global Green event in Marina Del Rey. He was the most handsome, stylish and charismatic man I had ever met, and his accent didn’t hurt. We were married within a year.
Tell us about life with your husband and your days together as a family.
We did everything together as a family. My husband would constantly decline invitations and work, because “weekends were for family.” He had very strong family values. We would take trips, go to parks, museums, farmers markets, he loved to bring the kids skiing. He was an artist and a child at heart and loved being a Papa. He would spend hours playing with the children and helping my son become the amazing artist he is today. He would always make us laugh. He was also an incredible cook, loved to clean, grocery shop, I woke every morning to a cappuccino, and I was always told I was too pretty to take out the trash.
He would spend hours playing with the children and helping my son become the amazing artist he is today.
Have there been any support groups, community, family, friends that have helped you and your family during the past year?
Much to the dismay of many, I have not joined any support groups or therapy. I have always been strong and determined and I have learned to ration (most of the time) my emotions as to not have complete breakdowns. I have an amazing sister-in-law, who although in Italy, checks on me and tells me what an amazing mother/woman I am almost every day. I have a wonderful friend who stops by weekly to hang out with us, is always willing to listen or help and most importantly, always makes me laugh. I also found an amazing Nanny for the kids, who they love and who allows me to have those much needed nights out with friends!
What are some of the hardest challenges you’ve faced this past year?
Losing my husband was devastating, we did everything together and the only nights we spent away from each other were for work. At times it felt we could not breathe without each other and I still often feel that way. Living life without him is by far the worst. With the kids, it’s just having to be everything to them, making all the decisions that can shape their future, making all of our financial decisions, being the only responsible adult, feeding, bathing, nurturing—it’s a lot.
Whenever my husband would go on business trips I would complain about how hard it was being a “single mom,” now I would have to hold myself back from physically harming someone that made the comparison. One week is not the same as a lifetime!
What have you found to be the biggest help along the way?
Any advice on how to talk to children about loss?
Listen to them, talk to them about it. I talk to them about their Papa every day. I show them videos and photos and remind them of stories and how amazing he was. My daughter was too young to really have any memories, so I create them for her through stories, photos and videos. I let them know that their Papa is always alive in their hearts and that he is watching them and smiling. I tell myself this as well.
What have you found to be the best way to connect with each of your children?
Time with them one on one. There is jealousy and someone is always compromising. I love to schedule time, even if it’s for only 30 minutes where they have my sole attention.
I love to schedule one-on-one time with my kids, even if it’s only for 30 minutes where they have my sole attention.
Any advice for wives and mothers who are in the early stages of loss?
The best advice someone gave me is to not allow yourself to dive too deep into your emotions immediately. It’s too much and if you allow yourself to go too deep, it’s hard to recover. Make your bed in the morning so you don’t get back in, leave the house as hard as it is, smile and laugh and don’t feel guilty. They would want you to be happy and your children need to see that they can be happy, too.
What has helped you and your children heal over this past year?
Time. I don’t think there is anything that could completely heal me. When I lost my husband I lost a large part of myself. He was truly the man of my dreams, the love of my life, my partner and my best friend. I can’t imagine my life ever being whole again.
He was truly the man of my dreams, the love of my life, my partner and my best friend.
How do you honor your husband in your children’s lives today?
We talk about him daily, we share stories, we celebrate his birthday, Father’s Day, our anniversary. I also make sure to see his family as much as possible, which isn’t always easy since they live in Europe. I also have an Italian Nanny that only speaks Italian with the children. It was very important to my husband, and to me, that the children know their culture and language.
What unique challenges do you face as a widow and single mom?
Well, for starters, I am now the least attractive candidate in the majority of employer’s eyes.
Tell us a bit about your future work/life plans.
I am still figuring that out. I took the year off work to adjust and also help my son who was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities. I am hopeful to return to work soon!!
What are some unexpected joys you’ve experienced through motherhood?
Honestly, I never knew if I wanted to be a mother so all of the joy they bring me is unexpected! Also, I am a needy person, so it’s nice to have people more needy than me.
One of the hardest things about being a new mom is the identity shift. How do you balance self and motherhood?
I think this changes with time, the children’s needs and now being a single mother. At the current moment there is no balance! I am looking forward to regaining some in the near future though.
What’s the best advice you would give your pre-Mama self?
Sleep, sleep, sleep. Travel, travel, travel.
What’s your philosophy on parenting?
I don’t have one. I am kind of a wing-it type of girl, and that goes into my parenting as well.
Tell us about what it’s like to raise kids in Brooklyn?
Amazing! There is no other place I would rather raise them. We live in a beautiful and diverse neighborhood with a great sense of community, amazing schools, beautiful parks, and plenty of restaurants and shops.
What gives you mom guilt?
What’s an ideal day like for you and your kids?
Breakfast at Luluc, followed by some downtime in our garden, a trip to the park or museum, dinner delivered and popcorn and a movie in our pajamas!
What are your favorite activities with the kids?
Breakfast on the weekends. We have always done this as a family. It is a bit harder now, but every weekend, at least once, we go out to breakfast together—usually at or before 8am.
What’s your best mom hack?
I’ll admit it, iPads!
What is the one thing you’ve learned about parenting you’d like other moms to know about?
The only thing I really think other moms need to know is that it’s not easy, we all make mistakes. But in reality, you’re probably doing a great job.
How do you spend your moments of “me” time?
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Nothing. In my 20’s I lived, I learned, I found love. Although I look back at moments and am embarrassed of my ignorance, it was ever so blissful.
What’s your best life hack?
Paying people to do the things you don’t have time to do. I love sites like Handy, Thumbtack, Instacart, Amazon!
What is the one thing you’ve learned from life you’d like other people to know about?
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Who or what inspires you?
I am constantly inspired, but it’s rarely focused on one particular person or ideal.
What motto or words do you live by?
I used to believe, “Everything happens for a reason,” but since my husband’s passing I no longer appreciate that phrase. I now live by the day and what gets us through it.
What’s your philosophy on style and fashion?
I believe people with their own personal style always look better than people that only jump on trends. If you feel great in your clothing, you will look better in them as well.
What’s your philosophy on secondhand clothes?
I prefer secondhand clothes, and am obsessed with vintage! My biggest fear is that I will sit in a meeting with three other girls in the same blazer.
Photos: Natalie Chitwood