‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Gwen Haynes, 2021 Wisconsin Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you to be selected as the Mother of the Year® in your state?
Oh, my goodness, what a question. I think it means that all of the days that I worried about getting this motherhood journey right, that maybe one or two days I did get something right.
What do you love most about being a mom?
I really do love it all. The good days, the hard days. Obviously, when my son, Miles, comes to me and looks to me for guidance or for a hug. Well, we just eat ice cream at 1 a.m. Those are the best talks. When the world is quiet and it’s just the two of us. And I’m up and he’s up, and we’ll go downstairs. I love those special moments when we get to talk, and again, whenever he gives me a hug, and whenever he says he loves me.
You have to look past to the finish line and realize that when you push forward and when you reset, you can achieve and accomplish the things you didn’t want to do or thought you couldn’t.Gwen Haynes, 2021 Wisconsin Mother of the Year®
When your child has wanted to give up and throw in the towel, what would you say to them to encourage them to never give up?
I think we’ve had a few of those days. This past year has been hard, and there are some days where my son has felt that because so many things change that something maybe wasn’t worth it. So, we take a pause and don’t try to rush through it. I try to make sure that I let him know that I’ve had those moments as well. I let him say exactly what he feels and I validate those feelings. But then I talk about how we have to sometimes manage past those feelings.
There are days I don’t want to go to work. Days I don’t want to get on one more Zoom call, but I have to put that professional hat on. It’s okay to recognize that you have those feelings and those days, but you have to look past to the finish line and realize that when you push forward and when you reset, you can achieve and accomplish the things you didn’t want to do or thought you couldn’t. We have those talks quite a lot.
How do you and your family get out in the community and do things to make a difference in other people’s lives?
We always say ‘if you want a friend, you have to be a friend,’ and so when we moved to Wisconsin, we really took that with us. We wanted to make a community and be involved in the community, so the first thing we started to do was volunteer. And one of the things that I did was make sure to volunteer at my son’s school, so I joined the PTO and somehow magically became vice president of the party.
After that, we got involved in our church. We got involved in some other leadership organizations here. Luckily, I met the mayor of Mequon, where we live, and I got to become part of the Mequon festivals committee, so Miles and I went out, and we put up signs around Mequon to let the community know what festivals were coming up.
We wanted to make sure that Wisconsin is our home. To be part of the community, we have to show that we are willing to serve, right?
The Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless, caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using that maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you say you exemplify the Golden Rule in your everyday life?
First, I’m just honored that someone thought I did this and honored to be nominated. I really do think as mothers, we don’t know if we’re doing it right. More than anything else, we want to get this right. And to raise our children in a way that shows what type of family they come from and their values. As a mother, I want to make sure that I’m a role model for not only my child but other children that are part of his village, other children that are his friends, and be there to help them and care for them.
Gwen Haynes is the owner of an event planning consultancy based in Mequon, Wisconsin. As an independent event planner, her expertise in corporate & nonprofit event management has led her to work with an array of clients. She has planned youth conferences, team-building events, award luncheons, corporate meetings, and holiday parties. In addition to building a small business, Gwen is the Director of Network Operations for ColorComm, an organization focused on advancing the visibility and accomplishments of women of color in communications. She oversees nine chapters and ensures that the organization’s Executive and Membership Directors are effectively executing programs in their respective cities. Prior to pursuing an entrepreneurial life, Gwen worked in public relations (PR) and communications in the D.C. Metro area for more than 15 years.
Her strong background in PR allows for creative, custom-designed events that align with her clients’ existing public relations and marketing efforts. Gwen received her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on PR and minored in psychology and became a faithful member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has served on several boards: Sustained Dialogue Institute Advisory Board Member 2015-2019; Harris & Harris Wealth Management Advisory Board 2013 & 2014; and Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) Board Member & Woman of the Year Co-Chair 2009-2010 & 2005-2007 and Board Vice President 2007-2008. Gwen Haynes is the mother of 13-year-old Miles and has been married to her beloved husband, John Haynes III, for 20 years.