Mothers earn their 'stripes'

Women discuss the moment when they knew they were maternal

Women discuss the moment when they knew they were maternal

May 14, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

For some mothers, there's a moment, maybe lots of moments, when they realize that this is it ? they're the mom. They have to deal with this situation, take charge.

These are key times of motherhood, so they shared them for today, Mother's Day.

For Evelyn Madden of Hagerstown, it was when she believed her 11-year-old son was deaf and no one ? not even her husband ? believed her.

He was doing well in school so the teacher didn't believe her either. Nor did the boy's doctor.

"I could tell (he was deaf), so I took him to an ear specialist against everyone's objections, and the doctor said he was deaf," said Madden, whose son is now 49.

She was told if she had waited six more months the boy's deafness might not have been reversible.

His ears had closed due to an infection he had as a baby and he was "hearing" through the bones in his head and had learned some lip reading, said the mother of five.


That was when Madden earned her "mom stripes."

Lisa Shelton, 41, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said she earned her stripes after her newborn son Blake was born with multiple health problems.

Blake never left University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where he had surgeries, Shelton said.

"Regardless of what happens, I'm a mommy. I'm going to be there and I was," Shelton said. "It was no burden. I wanted to be there."

Blake died two days shy of 5 months of age.

When Shelton learned her next child's due date was Blake's birthday, Oct. 25, she said it was a sign.

"I knew that she was going to be OK, that he was looking out for me," Shelton said.

Her daughter, Paige Mallow, 4 1/2, is "perfect," she said.

Shelton also is grateful for the support of her mother, Trisha Rouse, during Blake's hospital stay. Twice, Shelton had to be admitted to the hospital, and her mother would drive from Martinsburg after work to check on them both, she said.

Rouse, of Martinsburg, said she traveled to Baltimore several times after work and every weekend.

"I just wanted to be there with them and be with Lisa. She got sick, and I'd run from one floor to the other," she said.

Rouse said she earned her stripes when she was living in Hagerstown and her husband had to go to Washington, D.C., for a job for about a month or so.

She was alone to care for her 2- and 5-year-olds while working and trying to find a baby sitter.

"That was the first time I had been by myself with children," she said.

For many moms who were in Valley Mall in Halfway recently, earning their stripes came with the baby.

"Having the baby," said Jeanie Shankle, 40, of Boonsboro. "I have five kids. There's lots of moments."

"When you have them, I think that's when you earn your mom stripes," said Valarie Henderson, 21, of Hagerstown. Henderson is the mother of Nautica Henderson, 2, and Treshaun Gennes, 11 months.

"I think just delivery because I had natural childbirth with both of them. I think after going through that, I knew I was legit," said Stacie Zelenka, 35, of Thurmont, Md.

Zelenka is the mother of Lyla Jane, 2, and Maceo, 10 months.

"I would say it would have to be the moment the baby looked up into my eyes and squeezed my finger with his little hand," said Carol McNamee, 46, of Hagerstown.

That little baby, Jonathan, is now 18.

"Pretty much labor and delivery. Stretch marks, I think, are the stripes," said Shannon Mitchell, 33, of Chambersburg, Pa. Mitchell is the mother of two girls and a boy.

Other moms who were recently at the mall recalled times as their children aged.

Kathy Lowery, 36, of Chambersburg, Pa., said she volunteered at South Hamilton Elementary School for 11 years, where daughters Alivia, 9, and Kaylyn, 15, attended. She's been involved with PTA, helped children with reading and been a scorekeeper for the softball team.

Given all that, she thinks she will earn her "mom stripes" when Kaylyn gets her driver's permit in June.

Becky Horst, 58, of the Hagerstown area, said she earned her stripes as a single mother of two sons.

"I was working every day, making a home for them, seeing that they're clothed, bringing them up on their faith," Horst said.

Heather Satterfield, 30, of Frederick, Md., said being a stay-at-home mom and taking care of the house earned her the stripes.

"Taking care of more than you ever thought you'd have to," said the mom of a 2-year-old boy and a 6-month-old girl.

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