As I contemplate becoming a mother (in less than a month!) I think of the great mothering examples I've had in my life. There are surely countless women I could add to this list, the Orlobs, Judy Cannon, Shawn's Mother all come to mind, but these are the examples that truly stand out for me.
Diana Wiseman is my childhood best friend's mom. I'm sure that in the summer months I spent more time at her house than my own. Diana was always kind to me, but not afraid to discipline me when I needed it or send me home when I'd overstayed my welcome. Diana taught me the importance of suncreen which she liberally slathered all over her girls all summer long, and posture. I remember being 14 and staying with the Wiseman family for a week and having dinner. I sat up my tallest with my best posture knowing that Diana would tell her girls to sit up straight. At the end of the meal she complimented my on my posture and I think it was the best compliment I ever got from her!
Lary Ann Bateman was my second mom growing up. She is my Mother's best friend and she lived just down the street from us. LaryAnn gave me my first babysitting job, and probably fired me from it too. She would let me sit on her lap and drive her car down our dead end street. She taught me how to make Quesidillas and about Ebelskeevers. She makes the best home made rootbeer and carmel popcorn. She is the first person I know who has this ability to make everyone she comes in contact with feel like her best friend. All through school everyone I came in contact knew LarryAnn, and for good reason. She knows how to love unconditionally.
Stacey is my oldest sister. I remember being small, about 4 years old when my parents were going out for the night and my Mom put Stacey in charge. I cried and cried about wanting my Mommy when Stacey, who was only 12 or 13 said she would be my Mommy for the night, my other mommy. It worked and a few days later I cried and cried and when my Mom asked what was wrong I proclaimed "I want my Mommy!" Exasperated, she said "I'm right here!" and I said "NO! I want my STACEY MOMMY!" Stacey has always been the coolest person I know, the kind of person who you want to be in her group. Whatever she's doing seems to be the funnest, and she draws people to her. She has been another mother to me all of my life advising me on boys and surviving teenage hood and broken hearts. But what's truly remarkable is seeing my sister become a mom herself. She is the best Mom, with endless patience for her son, and endless joy. My niece said once that Stacey was her favorite Aunt now because Stacey was more fun, and I couldn't disagree. I'm so glad my kids will have Stacey as an Aunt.
David is my brother, my sibling closest to my age. I know it's a little nontraditional to list a man in a list of mothers, but my brother is an amazing single Dad. He lives in Alaska, so I don't get to see him often, but every time I do I am impressed by his ability to parent his girls. His oldest is the smartest kid I know, waxing on and on about geography at five years old. His youngest is as stubborn as can be, and to watch him patiently work with her, whether it's to convince her to wash her face or just listen to her talk, I think it's remarkable. He loves them fiercely for the independent people they are. I hope I can appreciate my children for who they are the way David appreciates his.
Mary Jo Harrell? I don't really know where to start here. My Mom has always been my example. I've been so lucky to be the youngest, and live at home the longest, so I have gotten to know my Mother as a woman and friend. I know her flaws, but also understand them, and that is so helpful to me as I become a Mom. My Mom taught me love for reading and learning. She went to college when I was a little girl, teaching me the importance of higher education, but when she saw that her family needed her more, she quit, teaching me that I (and my siblings) are the most important thing to her. Instead of being a failure for not finishing, she is an incredible example of sacrifice and putting the most important thing first. She always works hard and gets the project done. She is the best person to have on your team if you need something done. She is humble, always amazed when people ask her to do things or head up committees, not seeing her own power and strength. She is a true example of a Christian woman, always helping others. There is always room at her house whether it's for the homeless woman we found in the park, friends of her kids, or the autistic man in her ward, everyone is welcome. I've seen my Mother only eat half of her meal at a restaurant so she could give the other half to someone who needed it. She loves me and forgives me. There is no higher honor than to be known as her daughter.