Wednesday, May 4, 2011

my weekend

I had a very interesting weekend last weekend (and it all happened with my real camera sitting in my laundry room at home, so please forgive the pictures).

I went up to the National American Mothers Convention that happened to be in Salt Lake City this year (it takes place in a different city each year). I went because I had been chosen to represent my state as it's "Young Mother of the Year," and the Young Mothers from each state were invited to go (although I would prefer to be called a "middle-aged mother" because that's what I am, but whatever...I guess you are a "Young Mother" if all your children are under age 18). The selected "Mothers of the Year" from each participating state were invited as well along with past honorees and all the members of this organization that has as it's mission to "Reach, Teach and Honor" mothers.

The convention surprised me. I mean, I figured it would be nice. Mothers know how to do things nicely. But on top of being nice it was chock-full of inspiration and beauty...and it held very little sleep for any of us. Too many good things packed in. It was also much more populated than I had expected. There were hundreds of people there to celebrate motherhood.

We did all sorts of things from a bus tour of the city to listening to extremely talented musicians to taking train rides around an old pioneer village, enjoying really good food, and listening to inspiring speakers.
I met women from all over the United States who were bright and confident and beautiful...and who all take motherhood very seriously.
My dear Mother was my companion. I'm so lucky.
We laughed and laughed about how we are cut from the same mold as we both misplaced our phones about 63 times. It was quite fitting that she was with me since she was the Young Mother of the Year for Utah exactly 30 years before. We had SO much fun staying up late talking about life and being together. I love my mom.

My Dad had planned a once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving trip for he and all his sons and sons-in-laws (including Dave) before we knew about this convention. Although Dave was hesitant to go because he was sweetly wanting to support me, I talked him into it. I know Dave (and most men) might kinda choose scuba diving over sitting in meetings:)

At the convention all the mother "honorees" had to give speeches.

I hate to speak in public...until I'm right in the middle of it and then I kinda like it. All these ladies I got to meet did so well and I was inspired by each of their stories.

My in-laws came to listen and it was so nice to have them there. It was also so nice to get to hang out with my new friend Emi Edgley who I met at the Power of Moms motherhood retreat a couple weeks before and to meet her mom who is the general president of the young women organization in our church. She was just as gracious and uplifting as her daughter.
That night we had a special banquet to honor whoever they picked to be the National Young Mother of the Year.
We were each escorted to the front of the room and announced as we walked in. It was quite a fancy affair.
(I had to snap a picture of these people I love.)

By this time I had gotten to know the other Young Mothers quite well (we even had a "pajama party" the night before). They are all powerful mothers. They all gave powerful speeches. I was comfortable because I knew that any one of them would get picked before I would to represent young mothers across the country, and although I was so inspired being there, this was not something I felt like I could take on in my life right now. I'm flying by the seat of my pants as it is.

The only problem was that I was wrong.

For some crazy reason they picked me.

I about died when they announced my name.

Not because I wasn't completely honored but because this was definitely not going to help me find the margins I'm desperately seeking in my life! I think all of us busy mothers were thinking the same thing: "Please don't pick me." We all have small children and lots going on.

But there I was, the mother who slams doors and forgets to pick her kids up at school, standing up at the podium being handed a gorgeous bouquet of roses and a statue and a plaque and being asked to say something. I was like a deer in the headlights.

This sounds like a contest, right? (Something I said it wasn't back in this post.) But contests are things you try out for or "run" for. Contests are when someone is picked who surpasses the others. And who could ever do that with motherhood? Who could choose "best" mother when every single one of us is each fighting our silent battles and doing what is uniquely most important for our very individual families and children.

No, this was not a competition. It was an event to celebrate what mothers are doing everywhere to raise their children with love and to elevate their families with no expectation of any sort of reward (aside from the one that comes when you soak in the moments with your children, and that's a big one). We are mothers because we want to be. We value motherhood and we will fight for our children at any cost, not so that we can be clapped for.

But American Mothers Inc. wants mothers to be clapped for and applauded for the things they do. (And I must admit that does feel kinda good.) Because when it comes down to it, we are involved in one of the most important careers in the world: raising strong children.

I just happened to be picked to represent that mothering capacity...and I accepted the award in behalf of all those mothers out there who are deliberate mothers in their own right.

For the remainder of the fancy dinner I sat up there on that front banquet table with a huge smile on my face all the while trying to fight back tears. I was so worried about my family. How could I leave them four more times a year for the national board meetings in Washington D.C. and do the other things that this new "job" would surely entail? But as I sat there between the National Young Mother from last year and the one from 2008 I was assured that of course family would come first. We are mothers, after all.

That made me feel better.

That and the fact that I got to talk to Dave down in Mexico at about 1:00 in the morning...his reassuring, proud voice was so good to hear.
I loved having my in-laws and mom and sister there. (I'm trying to figure out how to get Saren's Power of Moms kinda hooked up with American Mothers...both organizations have such similar missions.)

My father-in-law was my escort. I was so grateful to have him there:
Some of the Young Mothers:

The National Young Mother from 2010 and the one from 2006:
The one on the right happens to be the new American Mothers president. She will do an amazing job.

Sister and mother bonding with the Daltons.
Sister Dalton, again, was such an up-lifter, telling me all kinds of encouraging things. I love that lady!

My dear Aunt and cousin showed up to say hi the next day. My cousin is about to have a baby any day and I'm so excited for her!

One of the breakout classes was about "social media." Courtney from "cjane" was there and I was so excited to meet her. She was very gracious in putting up with all the blog questions I peppered her with.
(We were both laughing at something that was apparently very hilarious when we took this picture.)

The last night was the fancy Gala to honor the new Mother of the Year (as opposed to the "young" or "middle-aged"-in-my-case, mother:).This is the Mother of the Year from my state:
I love this group of mothers from the desert.
The new "Mother of the Year" is Ernestine Allen from Washington D.C. She is an amazing woman with so much experience "mothering" hundreds in her church congregation on top of her own children. I'm excited I'll get to work with and learn from her this year.

They pulled us out of dinner for a couple interviews and then after the event they pulled us up to a room filled with lights and cameras and microphones to do a half-hour segment for a new show that will air some time this month. (I'll let you know when I figure out when.)
They were quite professional and did our make-up and everything. My ears were burning I was so embarrassed.

See Ernestine below? And that's the show host in the middle.

Although this is an interfaith organization there's no doubt that there are a lot of Mormons in Salt Lake City and they wanted to host the American Mothers organization well. On Sunday morning after a really beautiful interfaith meeting at the hotel, everyone was invited to the "Music and Spoken Word" with the Tabernacle Choir and orchestra on Temple Square. I don't think I have ever been to that and I was blown away with the beautiful spirit that filled that room to the brim as the music filled our hearts with the love of God.
Our favorite song they sang was "You Raise Me Up." It brought my Mom and I to tears both thinking of our dear mothers (mine right next to me) and others who have lifted us up in life.
Here's the Mother of the Year and her husband:
We were both very kindly introduced to the crowd gathered there at the tabernacle.

We soaked in the beauty of the new flowers and blossoms popping out:

Then we said our good-byes and my mom and I headed to my parent's house to finish putting together our talk for our first Time Out For Women this year (in a week-and-a-half in Oklahoma City...click here for more details).
It was FREEZING in Utah. There was a blizzard on Saturday. I was pleased as punch to come home to 90 degree weather. My mom somehow cajoled me into lugging my roses back with me.

Even though they, (along with all the other stuff I was juggling trying to sneak on the plane so I wouldn't have to check anything), were a little embarrassing, they somehow made it home relatively alive.I came home to this cute sign:
...along with folded laundry and a clean house and HAPPY children thanks to our amazing babysitter.

(Thanks Rachel!)

What a weekend.

I'll just note in closing that although I am honored by all this hoopla, I am well-aware that there are outstanding mothers everywhere quietly going about their daily mothering tasks with joy and thanksgiving (along with a fair amount of frustration mixed in) who so very much deserve to be "awarded" and clapped for. I hope we can all pat each other on the back a little more and honor each other in the sacred duties we have as mothers. Because really, it does feel good.

I loved how Stephanie Waite, the Young Mother from Nevada put it on her blog: "I have no doubt that there is an audience of angels standing and applauding our valiant efforts to raise good and moral children everyday. I hope the next time any of us find ourselves feeling unappreciated or undervalued in our roles of mother, we will stop for a moment and turn our minds and hearts to the greater picture. I hope in that almost prayerful moment we will be able to feel the warmth of that heavenly applause and know we are doing the most important job on Earth. We are caring for and raising children of God."

Amen.

67 comments:

  1. Congrats!!! I'm inspired just reading about it! Love your blog.
    Best, Kerry

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  2. Shawni this it a perfect description of that wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime event!

    Thanks for providing me with a gorgeous memory! Love you!

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  3. Congratulations! You are so very deserving of this award. Though we have never met, you inspire me. You have made me think about things so much differently when it comes to being a mom. I thank you for that.

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  4. Congratulations Shawni!! I am not at all surprised that you were chosen. You have inspired so many women in their roles as mothers, myself included. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your experiences through your blog.

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  5. Congrats Shawni! You're amazing and so inspiring. Well deserved indeed. :)

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  6. Congratulations! You really are such an inspiration -- not because you got an award for being an amazing mother but because you're a real, normal girl who tries every day to do her best for her kids.

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  7. Congrats! That's amazing, you're amazing! I haven't been following your blog very long (a few months I think...) but I REALLY enjoy it. You are a great inspiration to me.

    I, by no means, want to be mother of the year "officially" but I'd like to be for my children every day. How do you do it?? I never feel like I'm doing good enough, and while I'm sure most mothers feel the same, I know I could do more and better right now! I just don't know where to start (and I am a young mother... I have 4 kids, ages 6 to 2 weeks.) Help! :)

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  8. Thank you for this, particularly the second to last paragraph. I have tears streaming down my cheeks now as I try to type this! Many congratulations to you on being named Young Mother of the Year. Though I haven't met you, I am grateful for your example of mothering and the beautiful way in which you love and live for your children. (And, as a side note, I was talking with a friend (Brooke Romney) once about your blog and it turns out she knows you, so we are kind of connected, after all...ha!)

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  9. Amazing. It is well deserved. I treasure your posts and the advice that you give each day. Thank you and congrats

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  10. Congratulations! Sending you the biggest well done hug :) That is such fantastic news. And you got to meet Elaine Dalton? That's pretty awesome :) So excited for you. Love, Elise x

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  11. I know you don't know me, but I'm so happy for you!! I love that there is an organization that honors motherhood and that you were chosen Young Mother of the Year! Congratulations! I appreciate your wisdom and your parents' wisdom as well. (What I want for mother's day is a collection of their books and the one you co-authored with your mom!) Thank you and congrats!!

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  12. Congratulations Shawni! I "heard" about it on Saren's blog. You rock!

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  13. Congratulations and very well deserved. Thank you for being such a great example to me. Sometimes as mothers we feel like we don't get the recognition like we would in a paying job but I can tell you I wouldn't change being a stay at home mom for anything. I love all your posts about your life and being a mom. Thanks again.

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  14. Congrats! You sooo deserve this Shawni! You are such an inspriation to so many mothers.=)

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  15. I love Music and the Spoken Word, too. I just wanted to say congratulations. I started following your blog a little after I read the book you and your mom wrote. No mom is perfect, but your writing inspires me to keep trying to be the best mom I can be. Thank you!

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  16. If you were the "perfect Mother" (not such a thing) or portrayed yourself to be such I wouldn't read your blog. I keep coming back because you are an amazing, devoted, loving Mom who slams doors and gets frustrated just like me. You have inspired so many to do better and become more intentional. Thank you for being real and inspiring me to do better. I bought your book while at Women's Conference, I have read it but lent it out and never got it back. I am so enjoying it the
    2nd time and grateful for you and your Mom for taking time to write it and inspire so many! Congratulations!

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  17. Congratulations! I'm not surprised at all. You are amazing and so inspiring. You deserve it.

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  18. I can't think of anyone more deserving!

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  19. Congratulations! And you almost got a picture of me on your blog, I saw the top of my head, I think. I'm in the Orchestra at Temple Square. And I saw you at "Time Out For Women" so now we've both "seen" each other on stage. I really look up to you. Thanks fo letting us all follow your blog.

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  20. Congratulations sugar! That's so exciting, and doubly so with Mother's Day right around the corner!

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  21. I am so happy for you! They picked the perfect mother! You really are a 'natural' at being a mom and I know how much you love it! You will be a great example in promoting such an important cause. Thanks for being such a great friend and teaching me with your shining example! I have never met anyone with a more sincere kind, loving heart than you! Love ya Shawni! Congrats! Your kids were so cute spreading the news. They adore you!!

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  22. Congratulations Shawni! What a wonderful opportunity for you continue to uplift and inspire mothers to be the best they can be. Can't think of a better "very" young, humble, and beautiful(inside and out)mother to do that than you. Hope you have a Happy Mother's Day!

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  23. I just got all choked up for you :) What a neat thing -- You are very deserving of this award.
    You are the BEST one to represent us moms!!

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  24. Lovely photos Shawnie. What a wonderful time. Geez girl, you're quite the celebrity.
    Temple Square looks amazing.

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  25. Congratulations! You have a wonderful heart and are a humble person but let me assure you that you really do deserve this award so much! Thank you for inspiring me and so many other mothers to be better and do better!!!

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  26. What a wonderful honor! I didn't know that program existed. That is great that there are organizations out there that promote motherhood in a world where it is becoming an increasingly unpopular career choice. I am sure that not only are angels applauding you, they will also aid in the miracle of getting it all done in the coming year. Best of luck!

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  27. So there really is a "Mother of the Year Award?" I didn't know that! I thought that was just something women like me say when we're feeling guilty, like, "gee why haven't I won 'mother of the year yet'...." :) Seriously, I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now and you inspire me. Thanks for your example!! I'm glad you won!

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  28. Congratulations Shawni! Well deserved!

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  29. Congratulations! What an honor!

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  30. Oh, WOW, Shawni! Congratulations! That is an amazing honor, and I'm sure you will represent young mothers well. Oh the other hand, I can only imagine how overwhelmed you must feel. I'm starting to giggle to myself, thinking about all the crazy things that can happen (or go slightly awry) in the day-to-day life of any mother, imagining the awful pressure of handling those with the title "Mother of the Year" hanging over her head. I'll pray for you!

    Thanks for your good example, and I wish you the best as you take on this new role.

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  31. I am not surprised one bit that you were chosen. I am so grateful to have an incredible example for a friend! You are an inspiration to me and many other women. Love you Shawni, way to go!

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  32. Shawni, that is just AWESOME!! You are an AMAZING mother, one who I greatly admire, and I have to admit, it's kind of a relief that you have actually become THE "Mother of the Year," because it just an affirmation that what you do is EXCEPTIONAL, and that those of us who squeeze in, say, a quarter of the good stuff you do (which we may or may not copy), can still call ourselves "pretty good." Congratulations! I can't imagine a more deserving mom!!

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  33. Congratulations!! You are so very deserving of this, and you are an inspiration to me for sure.

    That last paragraph made me cry - I didn't even realize it, but I was feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated this week, and I loved reading that!

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  34. Awesome! You totally deserve this! I am so excited that parenting and mothering is on the forefront of so many people, no matter what faith. God is whispering in all of our ears that this is what this life is all about!

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  35. Wow! Congratulations! I think you are the perfect person to act as a representative of Mothers everywhere.

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  36. That is really something else, congratulations!
    I think your children should start introducing you as their 'award winning mother' :-)

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  37. Congratulations! You are such an inspiration to me. I always come away feeling so uplifted after reading your blog. Thank you for all you share in helping us all to be better mothers.

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  38. WOO HOO!! That is wonderful, Shawni :) Talk about a great Mother's Day gift :) It's nice that mom's who strive to excel can be recognized for their efforts.

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  39. I am so excited for you-- you will be amazing representing young and middle-aged (haha) mothers everywhere. Congratulations! I hope someday we will meet again!

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  40. I am so excited for you! You'll be great representing young and middle-aged (haha!) moms everywhere. I hope we will get to meet again!

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  41. Shawni, are you serious?! Of course you were chosen! What a great peek into such a neat organization. And, I have to wholeheartedly agree with you, what a big responsibility. Oh my. Our lives are so busy already with children. BUT. If anyone can do it, you can. You are a wonderful role model! Good luck this year & keep passing the experiences along to the rest of us! xo

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  42. Shawni, Woooooo hoooooo! This. Is. Awesome! You are awesome! And your description of the whole thing couldn't be more you and perfect! Noah said that when Dave told him the news on the trip that he was glowing! Dave not Noah. But then Noah beamed too! Thanks for sharing this.

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  43. How exciting. Sounds like a truely inspiring weekend. You are such an incredible mother and deserve this award. What a great experience to have with your mother.

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  44. Oh, and I can't believe you met CJane! Love her. And Sister Dalton. ;)

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  45. Congratulations Shawni...Well deserved.

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  46. Congratulations Shawni. You are an inspiration to me! I appreciate your insights and sharing your life with all of us. Your willingness to "keep it real" makes us all love you. You truly deserve this award!

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  47. Congratulations, Shawni! Once again you're keeping it "real" and I really appreciate that about you. Thank goodness we're not perfect; we wouldn't have anything more to learn and being a mother and raising children helps us learn the most. We do the best we can and hope it's enough. Who knows - one of your "whiney and worried" kids (to quote your mom) may become "Young Mother of the Year" one day too! What comes around goes around! lol!

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  48. I cannot think of anyone better than you to be chosen. As a mother of adult children, I can attest to the fact that motherhood never ends and has it challenges even in adulthood. You have helped me through some very difficult times with my children and you constantly inspire and uplift me! Thank you for being such an amazing example of motherhood/womanhood. You're a beautiful lady!!
    ~Mary

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  49. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this. I'm SO PROUD OF YOU!!! CONGRATS! What an amazing thing!

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  50. Congratulations! I was SO happy for you that I cried as I read your post! I love your blog and the inspiration it brings!

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  51. After reading your blog for the past while, I told my husband how impressed I am with you, and that I hope the American Mother's Association recognized the fact that you would be a perfect choice for National Young Mother of the Year. Congratulations on doing what you love, and do best, and for being honored in such a special way for it. The humble way you shared your news moved me to tears. From one LDS mom (of 6) to another, you are a great choice to represent the strength we have (and the reality of our everyday lives!) as mothers. I'm glad you had such a great weekend!

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  52. Shawni, you represent so much of what many of us are trying to do day in and out. Having you chosen as National Mother of Year feels like we've all been personally honored (and many of us are probably breathing a sigh of relief that we don't have to do any of the "extras" that you'll be stuck with ;)) Best wishes for this coming year!

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  53. Congratulations! They couldn't have picked a better young mother!

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  54. Congratulations! I don't even know you and think you totally deserved this honor. :)

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  55. WOW! How overwhelming and wonderful at the same time! Thanks for sharing this with us all. You are truly inspirational and help give me little boosts as I read your blog. Mothering is such a blessing! Glad that you were chosen to help spread the word. :)

    Tell Elder Pothier "ni hao" ;) from me.

    Tammy

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  56. Shawni!!!!! I haven't read your blog in a long time and I'm glad I did today because I didn't know this. Congratulations!!!!! You are a perfect example of motherhood. What a perfect fit! So proud and excited for you (and a bit overwhelmed for you too!) Mucho love. Alysa

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  57. Congratulations! You will do great!
    Thank you for sharing the Nevada post too.

    ps: I think one of the best photos is of you without shoes on in net stockings. A real person with Mucho Talent!

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  58. Congratulations Shawni! I can't think of anyone more deserving of such an honor.

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  59. I can't think of anyone who deserves this award more than you, as humble as you are about it. You are definitely the Mother of the Universe in my book and inspire me to be more thoughtful and connected about what I do.
    Congrats!

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  60. Congrats Shawni! I am so glad it is someone as wonderful as you that holds this title of Motherhood for our nation and world to see. Carry on!

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  61. Congratulations!

    All of us in American Mothers will help you be the best Young Mother of the Year ever! If you have a favorite philanthropy or an idea of how to make life better for a particular group of people, we'll help you do it. Think big, then tell us your idea. Together we can make a difference.

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  62. Well of course you should be picked you represent all us moms so well in your courage, patience, love, humility, humor and your ability to be real and honest congratulations.!!!! Couldnt be more happy and proud of you. Just caught up on your blog.....love you shawni and always am grateful to know you and call you a friend. Xxoxoxo

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  63. Congratulations, Shawni! That is quite the title and while I'm sure it feels daunting, you deserve it. There isn't a perfect Mom out there, but what makes you mother of the year is all the work you do to help motivate other mothers and bring a positive light to mothering. Good job!

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  64. Congratulations! I am new to your blog and I rarely comment on posts in general, but I wanted to thank you for including that last quote. I am a new mom, and somewhat frustrated at my lack of perfection lately, so it was a timely thought. Thank you so much!

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