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Happy Mother’s Day: A Q-and-A with 4 local ladies who have a thing or two to share about motherhood
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LaSha Ackerman and children Lilly, 10, and Luc, 6, spend an afternoon at Marina Park in Flowery Branch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Mother’s Day weekend has arrived, and it’s time to celebrate the women who make our lives a little brighter. 

To honor moms in the community, The Times reached out to four local women to hear their perspectives on motherhood and caring for their families during the pandemic. 

LaSha Ackerman

LaSha Ackerman of Flowery Branch is a certified Georgia master naturalist who enjoys enriching local kids’ lives by exposing them to art and nature. She owns Waldorf & Wonder Art and is the mother of a 6-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. 

What are your biggest hopes for your children?

I hope they grow up to have the confidence to chase their dreams and that they always feel loved and supported. More than anything else, I hope that they grow up to be happy with themselves, their choices and the places their lives take them.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom?

Constantly second guessing myself. There is no one perfect way to raise kids, so I’m constantly trying to find the right balance between being strict and lenient, structured and imaginative, organized and creative. I do my best, but I second guess myself at every turn.

What have you learned about motherhood this past year?

The lesson that my family learned during the pandemic is that less really is more. We went from having intensely busy schedules to very few plans, and it opened the door for more quality time and intentional activities. Instead of rushing from one activity to another, we spent countless afternoons hiking and exploring local creeks and rivers, which has led to new interests for my kids, such as rock climbing, foraging, bird watching and volunteering with wildlife rescues. 

Where have you found your strength amid the uncertainty?

Definitely my husband Peter and my best friend Ari. I came up with lots of fun, sometimes zany, projects during the pandemic, and Peter supported them all. And even though all our homeschool groups and social activities ended abruptly last March, my kids never felt lonely or isolated, mostly because Ari was always a text away. Having her kids to play with saved my kids’ sanity, and she saved mine.

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Norma Hernandez is the president of the Northeast Georgia Latino Chamber of Commerce part of a “health equity council” established by the Department of Public Health concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. - photo by Scott Rogers

Norma Hernandez

Norma Hernandez of Gainesville is the mother of two sons, ages 23 and 30. She serves as the president of the Northeast Georgia Latino Chamber of Commerce and has been heavily involved in COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the Hispanic community. 

What are your biggest hopes for your children?

My biggest hopes for them is to be successful, to keep up with their goals and just to be happy. 

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom?

I'm a divorced mom. It was hard trying to raise them on my own. Putting one through college was pretty hard. I have one that did like school, and the other one, I had to make him like school. I got them through, and I’m proud of both of them.

What have you learned about motherhood this past year?

We always say that being a mom, our kids are always our babies. It was proven during the pandemic. My children are living on their own now, but during the pandemic they’ve spent the whole year with me, every weekend taking care of me and me taking care of them. The pandemic got us very close. We were the Three Musketeers for a whole year.

Where have you found your strength amid the uncertainty?

I’ve turned toward prayer and working with different churches, but then, what I did was concentrate and get involved in the community. I want to give the community hope to help us get out of this mess.

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Rhonda Whelchel of Gainesville is a minister and mother of three. Photo courtesy Rhonda Whelcel

Rhonda Whelchel

Rhonda Whelchel is a minister who lives in Gainesville. She is a mother of three, ages 25, 26 and 33, and a proud grandmother of two granddaughters and one grandson on the way. Whelchel is active with her church family at God’s Prophecy Worship Center and helps organize a large Thanksgiving Day community meal each year in Gainesville. 

What are your biggest hopes for your children?

When they were younger, to be honest, I had my own desires for each individual one. But, right now, because God is doing such amazing things in our lives, my desire is for them to grow and be who he wants them to be. It’s no longer about what I want for them, it’s whatever God wants for them.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom?

It used to be them falling down and me taking care of their boo-boos. But, the biggest thing now is seeing them grow and letting them go.

What have you learned about motherhood this past year?

Motherhood comes with so many different things, the caring is still there and worrying about where they are and what they’re doing. I just have the normal worries and cares of a mom. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. 

Where have you found your strength amid the uncertainty?

I have to be honest, I turn to God because he is my everything. I have my husband who is my rock as well, and I cannot even leave out my church family, God’s Prophecy Worship Center.

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Brooke Burt of Gainesville is the mother of two children ages 12 and 16. Photo courtesy Brooke Burt.

Brooke Burt

Brooke Burt lives in Gainesville and works as Forum Communications’ creative strategist. She is the mother of two children ages 12 and 16.

What are your biggest hopes for your children?

My biggest hopes are that my kids grow up knowing they are loved, and that they love others in return. I feel like everything else will flow from that — their relationships, their successes and their contributions to the world.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom?

Watching my kids struggle through a situation and knowing I can’t make it better.

What have you learned about motherhood this past year?

I have learned that I’m not perfect, and that I can’t possibly do it all or protect them from every heartache. But, my kids don’t need perfect. They just need me to be honest and authentic and to love them — and myself  — the best I can for who we are.

Where have you found your strength amid the uncertainty?

I am lucky to have a very supportive spouse, and I turned to him for strength often. But, I’m also blessed with various “moms” in my own life. Whether they have children of their own or not, they care and nurture and provide a shoulder to lean in to or cry on, even if it was through a phone call or letter.

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