‘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 ReNae Murphy, 2021 Minnesota Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean for you to be selected Mother of the Year® for your state?
Being the Minnesota Mother of the Year® means that all moms, including me, can positively impact the world. Moms are all so different. Just look at the 2021 honorees this year for Mother of the Year®. We have teachers. We have doctors. We have single moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, CEOs. I mean, there’s just such a variety of who moms are. Yet, we all share that one common bond of unconditional love. And it’s not that we have that unconditional love just for our kids. All of us moms, we share it for everybody. And if you think about it, unconditional love, plus all of the diverse mothers that we are, that’s a lot of overwhelming positive impact for the world.
As Mother of the Year® for Minnesota, I’m going to go and positively impact the world every day by loving my neighbor. I’m going to give myself. However, I can–whatever that means. I’m going to encourage others to grow and be who they can be, and challenge those limitations. There’s no reason not to, and I’m going to do it in a way that’s so genuine and humbling because that’s just who I am.
“I go on the internet and see where I can volunteer. I have sided houses. I have put flooring in them. I have built a frame. I look for those opportunities, and I love them.”ReNae Murphy, 2021 Mother of the Year®
What do you love most about being a mom?
What I love most about being a mom, honestly, is experiencing life together with my children. Being a mom, I just kind of thought, ‘Well, this is a one-way adventure. I’m a mom. I’m going to go in, and I’m going to raise these kids, and I’m going to teach them and love them, and I’m going to encourage them, and it’s all about me being a great mom.’ Except, that’s not how it is at all. I had no clue that they would be teaching me perseverance and strength and compromise and patience. It’s like every single part of their life, and every single phase of their life was a new adventure, which was amazing. But then, ‘Okay, they’re 18. Time to move on, right? They’re going to go on, they’re going to go live their own lives, and that’s just the way it is. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that they’d be like, ‘Mom, we want you to come along.’ So sure enough, my son’s done with college, and he’s heading off to his job down in Florida, and he says, ‘Mom, that’s a long drive down there. Road trip?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure!’ And my daughter, she gets married, and she’s like, ‘Mom, oh, my goodness, could you please do the entire reception for me? I just want you to do my reception for me.’ Sure! My son is a director of an organization and he says, ‘We’re having this amazing gala. Will you fly down here be my date?’ Or ‘Mom, we just bought a house. Can you come and design our backyard and landscape? Will you come and decorate my house?’ My kids are 33 and 20, and I’m still experiencing life together with them, and I just think that’s amazing.
If you could do something different as a mother, what would that be?
I don’t know that I would have done anything differently. I think the piece that might have been done a little bit better was having more insight. Back in the day, we kinda winged it a lot. You did the best that you could, right? Now, there are so many great opportunities to go online and read more books and have a better understanding and reach out to others. I look at my mom and how she helped me, but I wish I would have had taken advantage of other resources that I had back then and probably didn’t know about to have been able to use for my children to be an even better mom, but I did the best I could with what I had.
As a mother, what do you do to relax and unwind? What do you do for yourself?
I love being active. I leave the office, and I go do something. I like to be outside. I don’t like to come in and sit down and do nothing. I’m not a TV person. I’m not, per se, an internet person. If I need my phone, it’s there, but I deal with technology all day. I am also a big dancer. I’ve done a lot of ballroom and Latin, so that’s my exercise. I’ve done snowshoeing this year. That’s been a fun change. So it’s just me getting out and being active. That’s what I do as a mom. It’s just feeding myself to go out and meet people, be engaged with them, and volunteer. I love volunteering, and that’s something because back in the day, when I was raising kids, you were so busy. It was like, ‘Why in the world would anybody want to go and volunteer?’ But I love it because it’s helping somebody and that just makes me happy. It’s about giving and receiving, and I love that, and I don’t want any recognition for that. I just enjoy doing it. You know and how you can help somebody else have a better day.
When your children were younger and even now, how do you encourage them to never give up and keep pushing forward?
It is a constant. I’m not saying that it’s not a struggle, but it’s just something that I do every day. I pray for them, and they know that. They know that I’m here to encourage them through thick and thin. I go to my daughter’s house, who’s right down the road, and we spend time together. They know they can contact me anytime and that I will talk and I will listen. It’s just saying, ‘Honey, I know, this is a really bad time for you. I know you’re really struggling, and so we’re going to get through this. There is positivity in every single day.’ And I’m the one that shares that with them and says, ‘Okay, I know you’re having a bad day. But you know what, tomorrow is going to be better. You might be struggling with this at work, but next week, you won’t even remember.’ And I do the same thing with my son, who lives in Michigan. So they know they can call me anytime and that it’s always encouragement that I give them and support. We all have down days, but I will be the one that brings positivity to them every day. You can always find one positive thing every day. It’s just how you look for it, and I share that with them on a daily basis.
How do you go out into your community and make a difference?
I look for whatever opportunities are there. I started my church. If I can, I go on mission trips. I thoroughly enjoy that, and I’ve been on quite a few. I’ve also worked with Habitat for Humanity. I look for organizations that require help. I’ve gone to the soup kitchens. I always say, ‘I want to do this. I don’t have anything going on this weekend. What can I do?’ So we’ll look it up, or even on Thanksgiving, I always say, ‘There’s got to be a way I can go and help somebody during Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t that be neat if we all did that?’ Those places where you can go pack food and give it away—I look for those opportunities. I go on the internet and see where I can volunteer. I have sided houses. I have put flooring in them. I have built a frame. I look for those opportunities, and I love them.
Caring, mindful, encouraging, positive, and giving are words used when talking about ReNae. She lives life to the fullest and thanks God for every day she can be the bright spot for someone else. ReNae commits her free time to many different organizations and events through her volunteer work, often dedicating time to her church, missions trips, soup kitchens, and events like the NCAA Final Four.