I’d met Breanne Meline last April when she spoke with my friend Catherine at BYU Women’s Conference. I was attracted to her honesty, humility and love for children and we immediately became friends. All of the nominees were truly incredible, but I was delighted to hear Breanne was chosen to represent Utah this year. Breanne will tell you she’s just an ordinary mother who does her best for her family each day– I agree, but I’d call her extraordinary.
Several people asked if I was glad to see the year end. While I’m happy to pass on the title (but, ahem, I get to be known as YOUNG Mother of the Year for the rest of my life), it really wasn’t stressful or time-consuming. I spoke a few times (I would have loved to speak more) and went to a few events, I wrote a little more boldly than I have before, but more than anything, I simply met fantastic women who love their children.
Last March, Emi Edgley and her family joined ours around the dinner table and, as the YM Search Chair, Emi explained how I was chosen. “We narrowed it down to about four mothers we thought would represent the state and our vision of motherhood well, and then we prayed about it. After our prayer, the answer was clear…”
Hans interrupted and said, “But all those mothers said ‘no’ so you asked my mom.”
If you know Hans, and appreciate his perfect comic timing, you’re laughing right now, just as we all did around the table that night. Still, the memory of their prayer stayed with me all year– God had something in mind for me, some message to share.
And I think it’s this: Mothers are powerful; fathers are powerful. You are the experts in your home. We have more influence than we can possibly imagine.
I love the anti-drinking/anti-drug billboards that constantly urge parents, “Talk to your kids; they’ll listen.” Those associations have the experience and statistics to prove what our society has largely forgotten: our kids listen to us. What we say and do matters. It matters. It matters. It matters.
One of my favorite parenting analogies comes from Erik. He told me, “Every time I get mad at one of the kids. I picture myself placing a brick in a large wall. If I let that anger sit; it hardens and becomes part of a barrier between us. But if I apologize quickly, we keep our communication easy and open.”
“Of course, it’s better to never throw down bricks between us,” he continued. “That’s why I like to think about building bridges. If you look at the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s enormous and seems nearly impossible to build. But it was build one piece at a time with thousands of tiny connections.”
And that’s why ‘ordinary’ moms and dads are so important. All those ‘experts’ and PhDs can proffer advice, but they can’t make those thousands upon thousands of tiny connections so crucial for children. We are the ones on the floor, in the laundry room, driving carpool, tucking in at night and waking up in the morning. No one knows our children better than we do and no one can love them and guide them through this crazy world better than us.
Even in Utah, motherhood as a career doesn’t garner much respect. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met a new acquaintance, temporarily impressed them with my ability to converse intelligently, then watched their face fall when they learn I don’t have a real job or a master’s degree. Inwardly, I alternate between laughing and crying, but I still think I’m worth talking to even without a resume.
I’ll keep speaking up for the ordinary moms. I’m proud to be one.