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 Melissa Hopkins, 2021 Delaware Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you to be selected as the Mother of the Year® in your state?
It’s really exciting. It’s an incredible honor to be honest with you, because I don’t know that I do anything spectacular, as compared to the other moms in our state. But it’s an honor and I just feel like now I have to do even better and set the standard for other folks in our state.
Lead by example, and lean in and do the things you can do, like support our young people because what they’re going through right now is really hard.Melissa Hopkins, 2021 Delaware Mother of the Year®
What do you love most about being a mom?
Well, I spent a lot of time not sure if I’d be a mom. So I went through four rounds of infertility treatments to have my son. And my favorite part about being a mom is watching my son, Sam, grow and watching his little brain just click. He’s the funniest, most entertaining, thoughtful person I know, and we are peas in a pod. It’s just really exciting to grow with him. I’m 43 years old, and I’m learning new things every day from my seven-year-old. So it’s an adventure.
How would you encourage him to not give up and to keep persevering?
We actually talk about this a lot, and I have a great example. He was taking ballet classes—which for a boy comes with a certain stigma—and he stopped taking them about two years ago because he was getting feedback from his peers that it was something that girls do. So we talk a lot about making commitments to ourselves and to other people. And that things are hard sometimes. And it’s supposed to be hard because that makes it worth having. Just recently, he said, “I want to go back to ballet. I know it’s going to be hard. And I know I might get teased, but it’s what my heart wants.” And so that’s what we did. He is doing a wonderful job, he practices hard, he doesn’t miss class, he does the things he needs to do. But I think that that comes from us instilling in him that the things worth having are really difficult and worthwhile.
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?
I am incredibly blessed to be able to devote my time, in a lot of ways, to community service. It’s really important to our family and I have an incredible partner, my husband. And we really are 50/50 parents, I’m not doing this alone. So that allows me to invest my time. I’m the board chair for Newark Day Nursery, which is a non-profit childcare center in the Newark area, serving kids with five-star education regardless of their ability to pay. I’m also volunteering at Sam’s school in creative ways and on the board.
At Newark Day Nursery, we’ve had to shift to serving kids in a whole new way amidst COVID. More importantly, to deal with the pressures that are coming with the mental load for children to do a lot of their schooling over Zoom, or the pressures that their families may be feeling around illness. And our kids feel that. So I spend a lot of time and energy investing in the kids and the team at Newark Day Nursery. I also teach a Youth in Government delegation in my spare time, and I have middle schoolers in the fall and in the spring, I have high schoolers. We do a lot of talking about what makes you happy, what’s really frustrating to you. So I’m just trying to give back in ways that make sense to me and that I can juggle into my schedule. That was a long answer to say: lead by example, and lean in and do the things you can do, like support our young people because what they’re going through right now is really hard.
Melissa Hopkins is a lifelong Delawarean, a mother, and wife and a dedicated advocate for the Delaware non-profit sector as the Executive Vice President of Sector Advancement at Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement, DANA. She has a background in building partnerships, driving policy, and advocacy for DANA. A lifelong learner, she earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware going to school part-time and working at the University of Delaware full-time. Melissa is also a Leadership Delaware Fellow Alum and completed the program while pregnant with her son, Samuel.
Melissa has served as a board member with several Delaware non-profits, and currently serves as the board chair of the Newark Day Nursery and Children’s Center and on the board of her son’s school, Christ the Teacher Catholic School. Melissa and her husband, David, have been married for 15 years and preserved through seven years of fertility treatments in their journey to parenthood. They welcomed their son, Samuel, in 2013, and he was well worth the wait. As a family, they enjoy camping, hiking, board games, movies, and spending time together. Frequently, Melissa shares humorous posts on social media sharing the fun and frivolity of parenting a growing boy, starting as Preschool Diaries and evolving as Samuel grows. Currently, First Grade Diaries/Mommy Diaries chronicles the adventures of parenting a precocious First Grade boy.
Do you have moms in your life you’d like to nominate for the Mother of the Year® honor? Nominate them today!