OGDEN — Being a mother may be a role that doesn’t get a lot of attention or that gets only token appreciation.
“Maybe someone could say I’m just a mom,” said Lisa Sheffield, an Ogden stay-at-home mother of five.
Yet it’s an important, influential role, and she’s here to say that mothers do make a difference, do have a significant impact. On the occasion of Mother’s Day and as Ogden’s mother of the year for 2019 as named by the Utah Mothers Association, she says she’s all about nurturing kids and teens, making sure they have a voice and are heard.
“I think I want to make a difference in the world and be an influence to my own kids and their friends,” she said.
And the nurturing role she aims to fill isn’t strictly limited to biological mothers. Women can have an influence on their nieces and nephews, their neighbors, other kids in the community. Indeed, when her three oldest kids went through Ogden High School, Sheffield would host weekly luncheons at her home, welcoming her kids, their friends and most anyone from the school inclined to take part.
“I enjoyed being with them, being a positive influence, touching some lives,” said Sheffield, who garnered the mother-of-the-year honor in part because of the luncheons.
Susan DeYoung, the Weber County mother of the year for 2019, also as deemed by the Utah Mothers Association, worries that women’s traditional role as mothers has been devalued as more and more put a bigger focus on career. A mom’s role, in part, is to create a safe environment at home for her kids.
“I feel it is something we need to stand up for, motherhood and family and being aware of how important it is,” said DeYoung, mother of three, grandmother of five more and also from Ogden.
‘SHOULD BE RESPECTED’
The kids coming each week to the Mom Lunch hosted by Sheffield — that’s what it ultimately became known as — initially numbered around five. They eventually started drawing around 30 kids, friends of her own children and others who learned of the weekly event. Everyone was welcome.
“They came because there was free food,” Sheffield said. She has a child now attending Ogden High School and another at Mount Ogden Junior High School but stopped hosting the lunchtime gatherings because the allotted time for lunch at the high school is now shorter.
But she thinks they got more out of it than just a bite to eat. Sheffield’s aim in hosting the luncheons for the Ogden High School students, she said, was creating an atmosphere where the visiting kids felt they were in a safe space, where they could voice their thoughts and concerns. She’d offer advice, though “not in a nagging, motherly way because I’m not their mother,” she said, and listen to whatever those inclined to talk had to say.
“I really feel like kids should be respected,” said Sheffield, whose husband, Mark Sheffield, is a doctor. Lisa Sheffield also helped launch the Ogden High School Boosters Club as a means to support the school and give parents a vehicle to sound off on school matters.
That sort of deference, she thinks, even needs to be offered to a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, to understand what may be upsetting the child. It led the Sheffield family to open their home to a girl going through a rough patch with her own family “while working through some things.”
DeYoung earned the mother-of-the-year designation in part for her role in caring for her granddaughter for several months after the girl’s mother, DeYoung’s daughter, died shortly after giving birth. Meg Bostwick, who suffered from a glioblastoma tumor, died June 14, 2017, hours after giving birth to Kennedy Meg Bostwick.
She maintains that she isn’t any more deserving than any number of other mothers. “It’s not that I’m anything extra-special, better than any other mother,” she said.
Rather, she sees her self as representing all moms, as a voice for traditional motherhood. “To me it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
Sheffield sounds a similar message, hoping to call attention to other mothers — stay-at-home, career or otherwise — and their efforts to prepare kids for the world.
“I hope I could represent a lot of amazing women that are doing a lot of things to help their kids,” she said.