I sit here writing to you on a grey, chilly wintery afternoon feeling a bit sorry for myself. I’m full of the snuffles, having been sick for 3 weeks with two colds and a sinus infection. I was taken aback to discover that you can actually catch a second cold before you have finished with the first one – a situation that seems grossly unfair to me! It’s clearly about time that I consulted our new Winter Ailments section to find out what I could do to get better.

Although I feel poorly, I also recognise that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Having just read through over 400 Mother of the Year (MOTY) nominations, I have come to the humbling realisation that I am a very lucky woman, and that although I’m pretty hardworking, I don’t have anywhere near the grit and determination of many of the mothers in our country.

Mother of the Year Award

When we launched the first ever New Zealand Mother of the Year Award, I don’t think any of our team realized just how big an event it would actually become. We were inundated with nominations and emails from Bluff to Ahipara in the Far North. I would also like to make special mention of Cambridge – I’m not sure what was happening over there in the Waikato, but Cambridge had the most number of MOTY nominations per head of population of anywhere in the country! Is there something in their water that’s creating Super Mums, or do they just have an exceptionally good communications network?!

Our team spent many days (and a lot of nights) reading nominations. This was an awe-inspiring and emotional experience, and could only be undertaken with a tissue box close at hand. Firstly, the outpouring of love and appreciation from sons, daughters, husbands, partners, sisters, brothers and grandmothers was incredibly moving. Secondly, the stories of grief, hardship and trauma would move even the most hard-hearted person to tears!

The difficulty we had was trying to narrow the choice down to only 10 mothers who could become finalists. This would have to rate as one of the most stressful tasks I have ever undertaken – there were just so many mothers who sounded absolutely wonderful.

Heartwarming Nominations from Children

Some of the nominations were incredibly heartwarming, particularly those that were written by children. Here are some of my favourite examples:

From Chelsea Ellis, aged 9, from Ashburton, nominating her mum, Dulcie Ellis

My mum is great. She bakes and looks for all sorts of ingredients for me because I have Coeliacs disease and I cannot have gluten in my diet. She has taken me to the doctors and hospital and made my life a lot easier for me so I don’t have sore tummies any more. We make vanilla cakes and bread and she eats like I do as well because she cannot have wheat.

She also makes my outfits for highland dancing and takes me to competitions. She gives a lot of time to me and my brother and we love her a lot.

She lets us have friends over to stay and makes popcorn for us as well as letting us watch movies.

She works very hard at the bank and she also took us to Australia in the holidays with Dad as well. She kept it as a surprise and we didn’t know until the time we got to the airport. We went to the theme parks and Australia zoo. It was cool and we are very lucky to have a mum who works hard to do these things.

We hope that she can win this award so she knows we appreciate everything she does for us both.

Love you Mum

squeeze, cuddle, kiss

From Alexander Fraser, aged 5, from Auckland, nominating her mother Maree Fraser

I want to nominate my mum for Kiwi Mother of the year competition. I am 5 years old and my name is Alexander. Dad’s helping me write this.

My mum should be awarded Mother of the year coz she is really a neat mum. I’ll tell you why.

She always puts my needs before anything else. She snuggles up to me on the couch and watches TV with me and she always seems to be helping other people – she goes the extra mile.

She is always loving and caring and understanding with me and I know I can talk to her about any problems I have at school because she will always listen and give me good advice.

I think she’s the best mum in the universe and I love my mum. She loves being my mum coz that’s what she always tells me. She should really be Mother of the year. She always tells me she loves me and tucks me into bed at night with a kiss and tells me she loves me. She makes me feel happy and safe. She likes cuddling me too.

Thanks for reading my letter and I hope you let my mum win.

Nominations from Whole Families

We were also privileged to have whole families sending in nominations! There are three families that particularly stand out in my mind in this regard. Their nominations were so lovely that we have put some special pages up on the website for you to look at: firstly, read all of the nominations for Angela Sharma, of Nelson. She has 6 children aged 3 to 13, and we received nominations from the five eldest as well as one from Dad, Chris Leaper. Angela sounds like Super Mum!

Next was Margot Wuts (nee Pierard). The Pierard family really stood out for us, with three sisters from around the globe nominating Margot after the traumas she had recently been through and the positive way in which she was coping. This close knit group of sisters wrote to us from Spain, London and Wellington with their moving stories of their sister. Take the time to read these nominations – I’m sure you’ll be as moved as we were.

Another outstanding mother was Kiri Parata, a single mum from Ashburton, who was nominated by 5 family members. Kiri is doing a fantastic job of being a single mum, and is a wonderful role model for her children.

So what did we Learn from the Process?

That there are lots of amazing mothers in New Zealand, who work incredibly hard and completely selflessly to give the best possible opportunities to their children. They routinely go without money, new clothes, sleep and free time in order to support their families.

The job description for your average mum is incredibly demanding, and entails being a: counsellor, taxi driver, referee, cheerleader, good cuddler and kisser, good listener, hard worker, creative director, events organiser, homework supervisor, holidays booking agent, shopping coordinator, gardener, laundress, cleaner, seamstress, nurse…and the top chef in the universe.

It’s no wonder mums get tired!!!

We also learnt that there are all types of mothers out there – single, foster, step, adoptive, natural, grandmothers raising grandchildren, mothers of special needs children, and mothers with special needs themselves….and most importantly, we need to cater for all of these people on our website.

Discussion

So how did it go? Were you happy with the MOTY process? Could we improve it? What would you like to see happen next year?

We would be delighted if you joined us on the Forum and participated in the discussion about how we can make the MOTY Award even better next year.

…and in Conclusion?

We learnt that everyone’s mum is the best mum in the world!! As a close friend commented last week; it’s a bit like baby photo competitions – everyone thinks that their baby is the most beautiful baby ever born!

So here’s the most important lesson from all of this….make sure your mum knows how much you love and appreciate her, and that in your eyes, she’s the best mum in the world! (and if you haven’t done so already, please take the time to show her a copy of your nomination!).

 

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Kerry Burridge is mum to three great kids and was Kiwi Families founding Editor.

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