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It Takes a Mom: Discovery along the way and learning of a love like no other

APRIL 10, 2023

In the last couple of months as we’ve connected with the 2021 Mother of the Year honorees and learned more about them and what’s important in their lives. We asked these women what surprises they’ve encountered during motherhood, and ones that rose to the top were discovering unconditional love, constant moments of learning and teaching, and that no two experiences are truly alike!

We gathered some of their insights below, and encourage you to read their full interviews. Let us know what surprises you most about being a mom by writing to us at

Motherhood has held a lot of surprises for me but I’m most taken aback at how much my children remind me of myself. I only have sons so naturally I assumed their behaviors and personalities would be more like my husband. I’ve been floored more than a few times when in conversation with them all I can hear is a young me! Most times that’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s not which can be very enlightening. So motherhood has been a true journey of self-discovery and at times, rediscovery through my children.
Rev. Dr. Ronné Wingate Sims, 2021 California Mother of the Year

I think I am most surprised by the ability to multiply love. When I was pregnant with my second child, and being SO in love with my first, I could not imagine having enough to give. Yet, with the second, third and fourth, the love simply multiplied. I was filled with such joy and pride and every little accomplishment would make my heart swell. The feeling does not go away as my children grow into adults. It truly is indescribable how amazing being a mom is. It takes some giving but I get it all back tenfold!
Monica O’Brien, 2021 Connecticut Mother of the Year

Given our family’s journey through infertility, I often must pinch myself because I am still so excited that I am a mom. I often find myself surprised by how often motherhood is about figuring things out on the fly. While there are classes to prepare you before the baby arrives, no class or book prepares you for some of the day-to-day adventures of motherhood. Everyday our son is learning new things, but my husband and I are learning new things as well and it’s a different adventure than I’d imagined but I love all of it.
Melissa Hopkins, 2021 Delaware Mother of the Year

The “Mama Bear” instinct to protect my daughters and be there for them with unconditional love no matter what has never waned and they are ages 61 and 58! Conversely, they demonstrate those same feelings for me and as adults we have truly become best friends! 
Sharon Donlin, 2021 Iowa Mother of the Year

2021 Delaware Mother of the Year Melissa Hopkins and her family.
2021 Delaware Mother of the Year Melissa Hopkins and her family.

Lynn Genie, 2021 Mein Mother of the Year at Robbie Foundation
Lynn Gierie, 2021 Maine Mother of the Year

I am a mom of a son with special needs. I interact with many moms of children with special needs and I witness their strength and determination. I often ask myself how they do it, how they withstand the constant demand, and where they find the perseverance to keep doing it. Then I’m taken aback momentarily as I realize that I’m doing it too. 
Lynn Gierie, 2021 Maine Mother of the Year

As an adoptive/foster mom, I’ve learned it’s not the length of time a child is with you, rather, it’s the amount of love you give to that child while they’re in your care that defines your ability to be a parent and to make an impact in that child’s life. From the moment a child comes into our home, we love them like our own. The first time we welcomed a child, who we had never met, into our home, it surprised me how quickly my maternal energy and instincts took over and how protective I became of that child.
Ashley Rae Klinger, 2021 North Dakota Mother of the Year

What surprises me is how important your voice and values mean to your children in their adulthood. As a mom, you never stop being a role model to your kids and a beacon of hope for all that they aspire for their children. As such, you must never stop being a listener and learner.
Kimberly Davis, 2021 New York Mother of the Year

Prior to becoming a mom, I heard stories of how different each child would be and didn’t believe this notion from seasoned mothers who shared all about their children. As a proud mother of three, they are indeed amazingly unique. Every single day is different and as a result, a great deal of adaptation, flexibility, understanding, patience and a small degree of humor is necessary to thrive. Motherhood is a beautiful journey that is ever-changing as you navigate the various stages of your children’s lives. It is wonderful to nurture them as they explore and create their own paths.
Mautra Staley Jones, 2021 Oklahoma Mother of the Year

Headshot of Kimberly Davis, 2021 New York Mother of the Year
Kimberly Davis, 2021 New York Mother of the Year

Meet all the inspirational moms honored as 2021 Mother of the Year here.


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