On Being a Mother with a Lawman in the House

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As we approach the special day set aside to honor mothers everywhere, I think, what??? Just one day! Oh no, we wonderful, amazing, brave, smart, hard-working women should be honored each and every day. 
When Tyson and I married in December of 1973, we always knew that we would be parents one day. Our first daughter, Jill was born in 1977 and our son, Josh, followed a short 17 months later. It was almost like raising twins. We thought our family complete until we were blessed with our Jessica six years later. 
The year Jessica was born, Tyson came home one day to tell me he had decided to run for Sheriff! I remember I sat in my baby-rocking chair, with my very large belly, and cried! Maybe I had a premonition of what was ahead. I had an idea of the responsibilities of the job of law enforcement but I was pretty naïve about all the sacrifices a family makes when a spouse chooses a career to serve and protect his or her community as a law officer,  
But mothers, we can do hard things, and I did. With three children and a sheriff in the house, I commuted to Georgia Southern University, received my BS in Secondary Education and began my career as a social studies teacher at Swainsboro High School.  
With the demands of Tyson’s job, I often felt like a single mom! Gratefully, God placed three amazing women in my life who became my support, taught me how to be a good mother and how to handle seemingly impossible tasks thrown my way. These women were my grandmother, Callie Fagler, my mother-in-law, Christine Stephens, and my mama, Mae Kelly. My Granny Fagler and Mrs. Stephens are no longer with us but the influence of these women in my life is immeasurable. Mama and Mrs. Stephens were always ready to step in and help me when the demands of Tyson’s job took him away from us. 

I don’t think you can fully appreciate how much law enforcement officers give up, unselfishly, to often risk their lives to ensure the safety and protection of the community they serve. It is not an easy job (and the pay often doesn’t support the importance of the job) for them or their families. They often have to place their jobs above family, not fair at all but necessary. I have prayed hard for our law enforcement community in the past year especially as they have faced unprecedented situations. But like mothers, they can do hard things, too. 
As a mother, my days were long, filled with work, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, transporting children to football and softball games, birthday parties, competitions, spend-the-nights and on and on. The years, however, are very short.  
My greatest joys and sometimes, to be honest, my greatest sadness, have come from my children. Yet, one day you will look up and they will have grown up, graduated from college and have become gainfully employed. Josh started a new company with his partners during the pandemic/lockdown, Heart Wood Products, a pallet manufacturing plant in Warrenton, Georgia. Jill is a Senior Executive Director for Development with the University of Georgia’s Office of Development & Alumni Relations. Jessica is a registered nurse and Patient Flow Coordinator in the operating room at Wellstar Hospital in Lagrange, Georgia.  
My children have chosen just the right partners in marriage for them: Geoffrey, Merri and Jack. As their mother, I got to see them fall in love, marry their person and give me the very best gifts of all, my grandchildren. It really is true that you can love them, spoil them, take them on adventures, do all the fun stuff and then send them home! My second most cherished name after mama is SuSu to my “Eight is enough,” Callie, Reese and Charlie; Sam and Bo; and Carter, Hudson and Bailor.  
Mamas, enjoy your special day and know that your bond of love for your children and their love for you cannot be broken! Treat yourself well, find your tribe of support that you can laugh with, cry with, vent with and rely on. You have done an amazing job, particularly in the year of COVID! To paraphrase the timeless words of Abraham Lincoln, “all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” 
Happy Mother’s Day! 

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