Recent Op-Eds

One of the most noteworthy qualities about President Reagan was his unmatched ability to capture the feelings of the American people when he communicated with them. He connected with his audience in the moment, and the messages he delivered were often so timeless they will transcend generations. Of mothers, President Reagan once said, “They’re the main communicators of the values by which our nation has flourished for more than 200 years – the values of honesty, responsibility, decency, and personal effort. By imparting these and other values to our children, the mothers of America quite literally shape the future.” His message is as true today as it was 30 years ago.

I know everyone says it about his or her own mom, but mine really was the best. Although she’s gone, I still find myself applying the lessons she taught me to my life and family today. My mom was the most positive person I ever met. She brought joy and happiness with her wherever she went and never said an ill word about anyone.

As a lot of parents are, my mom and dad were a perfect balance for one another. My dad has always loved sports. He was a star basketball player and is a member of the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. He has an entire gymnasium named after him in our hometown. Naturally, my siblings and I had an early – and at times intense – interest in sports. If we could, we probably would have spent every minute of daylight playing with friends in the field or on the court.

My mom recognized our love for sports, but always tried to create some balance in our lives. Every day during the summer, my mom required me and my siblings to come inside and spend one hour doing things like reading a book or playing the piano. If you grew up in a small town like me, you know how painful it was to sit inside and watch your friends run around outside and have fun without you. Mom made us read all of the classic pieces of literature, and to this day, I’m still able to read sheet music and sing a tune from time to time. She exposed us to things that we had no idea how much we’d appreciate later in life. It’s a part of her that still lives with me today.

Like my mom was for me and my brothers and sister, my wife Kimberley is the glue that holds our family together. Moms do a lot of things, and Kimberley has done them all. When I was first elected to Congress, my girls were young, and I traveled a lot. It’s no understatement to say Kimberley took parenting to another level while I was away. I always appreciated the hard and time-consuming work she did for our family, but I especially appreciated it during the times when I was home alone with the girls. One example, I remember trying (and failing) a number of times to braid Brittany’s and Larissa’s hair. I’d send them off to school, and based on the results, I’m sure their teachers could always tell when Kimberley was out of town.

My job provides me with opportunities to meet great moms too. There are a lot of hard-working, talented moms on my staff throughout South Dakota and in Washington, D.C., and many more come through our offices each year. I recently met with South Dakota’s 2015 and 2016 Mothers of the Year Award recipients – two amazing women, Lynn Starzl and Laurie Visser, both from Yankton. Earlier this year, I spent some time with Tami Fite and her family, winners of this year’s Angels in Adoption Award. Tami and her family have defied many odds over the years, and she’s a shining example of what every good mom strives to be.

President Reagan was right when he said “It’s no accident that America chose to honor all mothers with a special holiday.” As you celebrate this special day with the special women in your life, reflect on everything they do for our families and our society, and wish them a very happy Mother’s Day.