Pebbles Junell is a single mother of three beautiful children. She is the C.E.O of Pebbles Fit and the Founder of Growing with K’dyn.
Tell us about your childhood. Your mother died when you were very young. How did her death shape your life moving forward?
Pebbles Junell: As a child, even growing up into an adult, I always felt this emptiness. But, I was very grateful to be adopted by my biological grandparents and my father. They taught me so much about my mother. I always wonder if she’s proud of me? Or how she would react to certain things, or would we travel together? But there is an emptiness I feel.
You were only one year old when your mother died. Do you have any photos of you both together?
Pebbles Junell: No. I have one picture they gave me and I still haven’t seen her obituary. I want to see the obituary, but I don’t have much memory of her at all.
We want to extend our sincerest condolences to you and your children over the loss of their father, Earl ‘DMX’ Simmons. Their father died at the same age you were when your mother died. How has his death transformed your lives?
Pebbles Junell: That hit home for me. Because I know what it is to grow up without a parent. I never wanted my kids to feel that emptiness. So I try my best to do everything that Earl wanted them to do. Every event they have for Earl I try to make sure that my kids are a part of it so we can have pictures and videos that I can show them once they get older. They will have the same questions I had when I got older, but at least they will have photos.
There are a lot of misconceptions about your relationship with DMX. What’s the real deal?
Pebbles Junell: The whole side chick thing or that I am a homewrecker are absolute lies. Earl and I built a strong friendship and relationship without me knowing anything of another woman. So after, I found out we immediately broke up. But I felt like we’ve been through it all. We went from being friends to lovers to hating each other, to co-parenting. The world may see it another way but it’s not what people think.
How was DMX as a father?
Pebbles Junell: He tried the best that he could, you know, dealing with his circumstances. But during that time, I didn’t see how much he was trying. When we found out that K’dyn had down syndrome he was with me at the hospital. K’dyn got admitted for a month, last year and he was there.
Take us through those moments when you both found out that K’dyn was diagnosed with down syndrome?
Pebbles Junell: Well, emotionally during that time, it was a lot for me, because I was already going through the separation between DMX and me. And then during that time, I found out that one of my twins had down syndrome. So of course, he blamed himself a lot. I was mentally not okay, I began seeing a therapist because I needed to work on myself. I needed to be strong to raise 3 kids as a single mother. But once I was able to accept the diagnosis, I started to educate myself about it. I joined a lot of down syndrome groups, and I was close to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They educated me so much about down syndrome, and I was able to educate him about it. So we both realized that it’s an extra chromosome and that it has nothing to do with either one of us. It happened. So, we went through a lot. This is why I go so hard with Growing With K’dyn. Many parents struggle with acceptance. My experience motivated me to start this foundation and we started this before DMX’s death.
Wow! Being a parent is already demanding, but I’m sure that there’s a different level of devotion needed when dealing with a special needs child. So take us through a typical day with K’dyn?
Pebbles Junell: K’dyn has occupational therapy, physical therapy, hearing therapy, and speech therapy, he has this daily. I am very grateful that after Earl died, we were able to get a stay-at-home nurse. We have a nurse seven days a week from 10 pm to 6 am. But she’s on call, and she’s able to travel and go to events with us. I was very, very grateful for that. But right now, he has to undergo several surgeries. He has to have heart surgery, hearing surgery, eye surgery and have part of his tonsils removed so that he can breathe better throughout the night.
Is all this connected to down syndrome?
Pebbles Junelle: Yes. Each child is different, you know, but a lot of kids have low muscle tone. When you have a low muscle tone, everything is weak. So it’s not that he won’t be able to; as he gets older he’ll begin to hear more. As he gets older, he’ll start to get stronger. It’s a process of development.
With all that you have going on, how do you take care of yourself?
Pebbles Junell: Honestly, I didn’t know that I was going into a depression again, once Earl passed away. Everyone was asking me if I was okay and I told them that I was fine. But then I had a bad breakdown, I was not okay. And it’s okay to say that you’re not okay. Yes, I’m not perfect. I’m hurt. And I was embarrassed for a long time. But now I’m ready to speak my truth. And now it’s about affirmations and speaking positive things into existence and staying mentally okay. So that’s the main goal. I attend a lot of motivational and networking events to help and inspire other people because it inspires me as well. So my goal right now is to be okay with Pebbles. It’s affirmations, praying to God, and staying around positive people that genuinely love me.
That’s amazing. Tell us more about K’dyn? What does he like and how is he with his other siblings?
Pebbles Junell: K’dyn loves to eat! And it hurts me so bad that he is only on liquids. So when I cook, I like to blend the food so he can get the same thing we’re eating. As far as his siblings are concerned they have a beautiful connection. It’s like they have known each other their whole life.
That’s nice to hear. What advice or word of encouragement would you give to a mother who has just found out that her child has special needs?
Pebbles Junell: The best thing that you can do is accept it. Once you get over acceptance, you’re able to inspire the world. Once you accept it begin to educate yourself about whatever disability your child has. You’ll soon discover that you are lucky to have this baby. God will never give you a child that you can’t handle. My son made me who I am today. So I’m very, very grateful. So accept it and educate yourself.
I know that you have a lot of things going on with your foundation and with your business. Tell us about some of the events you have planned?
Pebbles Junell: We are preparing for down syndrome awareness month in October. Growing with K’dyn has partnered with the Children’s Hospital Philadelphia. This year we’re doing a virtual event because of the rising COVID cases. We would do walks, but we’re going to do a virtual event on October 24. If you follow me on Instagram, @PebblesJunell, I will be posting the links for the down syndrome virtual walk. Each family is doing something different in their own home. So for me, I want to set up a zoom call and everyone can join in. We’re going to walk for 21 minutes because Down Syndrome is called Trisomy 21. So I’m going to set up a zoom call everybody can join wherever you are in the world. And we will walk for 21 minutes.
Follow Pebbles Junell on Instagram @pebblesjunell for more.