Children changed Tri-State mothers

May 11, 2008

Editor's note: In observance of Mother's Day, The Herald-Mail asked women from across the Tri-State area to describe how motherhood changed their lives. Here is what they said.

Carolyn Brooks, Hagerstown

Every day is Mother's Day for Carolyn Brooks, who has no doubt her experiences as a daughter, and later as a mother, changed her life and the life of her family.

The coordinator of C-SAFE of Hagerstown/Washington County, Brooks said she was fortunate to have been raised in a strong family.

"There was always someone at home, and that was so important to me growing up," Brooks said.

So when Brooks and her husband, Frank, decided to start a family of their own, they were committed to being there for their daughter, Whytne, who was born while the couple were living and working in Illinois.

The family moved back to Hagerstown when Whytne was a baby.

"I wanted to be a full-time nurturer," Brooks said, a job she described as more than being just a full-time mother.


Whytne, 22, and a 2007 graduate of Yale University, is completing her first year of law school at Columbia University. This summer, she will work at a law firm in New York City.

"I believe her formative years were instrumental in her success," Brooks said. "It was a conscious decision to be there for her - I had that when I grew up."

Throughout Whytne's early years, she often accompanied her mother to meetings and events when her mother either was working or volunteering.

Brooks said she is proud that Whytne has a strong sense of duty and caring.

- Marlo Barnhart

Penny M. Nigh, Hagerstown

"With me, it was one that was very welcome because I love children," Hagerstown City Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said about how becoming a mother changed her. "It was a big enhancement of my life."

Nigh said she was "very young" - 20 years old - when she became a mother.

Her daughter, Danielle, is 41. Her son, Lance, is 38.

"It makes you very keen in your senses" because every noise might mean a new problem, Nigh said.

"You're listening forever, and you never get rid of it," she said.

Nigh now is going through the same thing as a grandmother of two, ages 8 and 6. She cares for the children on weekdays and enjoys it.

"It actually keeps you young," she said.

Nigh said her listening habit never left.

"I personally feel, with every woman, the instinct is there," she said.

- Andrew Schotz

Jill Ritter, Hagerstown

"It completes your life," Jill Ritter, victim-witness coordinator for the Washington County State's Attorney's office, said of motherhood. "I am so proud of both my kids. They're both really great kids. They excel in school, they excel in sports. I don't know what I'd do without them. They make me cry, make me laugh."

Her children are Katie, 16, and Matt, 12.

"Motherhood is very trying, and I couldn't do it without the assistance of my parents," Ritter said. "They've always given me their insight and their wisdom."

Ritter's mother is Kathy Barber. Her father is Bob Twigg, and her stepmother is Lois Twigg.

- Erin Julius

Pam Mann, Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Pam Mann had her first daughter when she was only 17.

"It made me grow up quickly," is one way motherhood changed her life.

"I wanted two things in my life - to be a teacher and to be a mom," said Mann, now 50 and the mother of six children. "I learned becoming a mom makes you a teacher."

Mann is in the process of earning her library science degree, with a focus on children and young adult services. She is the children's and young adult services coordinator at the Morgan County Public Library.

"Being a mom has made me see how important education is to our children and how important it is for parents to participate," said Mann, who said she is very active in her children's schools.

Mann said she believes women want to teach their children to be more active in the community and be more proactive by advocating for children in general.

Women who are mothers "can't take the first 'no' for an answer when it comes to getting the needed results for their children," she said.

Mann believes motherhood has changed women's lives in general. Women become more focused on their children regarding health care, safety, and nutrition, she said.

"By being a mother, you are more focused on what is really important," she said.

But Mann believes women don't necessarily have to have children through birth to have their lives changed. Being around children of a family friend, or being a godmother, teacher or neighbor will influence any woman and change her life, she said.

- Trish Rudder

Barb Snider, Chambersburg, Pa.

"It's made my life busier from the day I got pregnant until now," Barb Snider said of motherhood. "Even though being a mom is a difficult job, it's the best and most rewarding job there is. Words can't describe the long-lasting rewards of raising your children and seeing them become true, mature adults and followers of Christ."

Now, Snider watches her 29- and 30-year-old daughters raise their own children.

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