Mother of the Year

Mother of the Year

Geoffrey Botkin
December 31, 2012

What makes an exceptional mother? Intensive, self-sacrificing care and protection of her children. As we step into a new year, I want to honor a woman whose life as an exceptional 20th Century mother is stretching into the 21st with an ever-expanding legacy of passionate mothering -- even though her own children are grown. In my estimation, my wife Victoria is the Mother of the Century twice over. Her grown children are now sharing their mother’s warm and compassionate attention with a new generation of 21st Century children.

To many in our community Victoria is known affectionately as Mother Botkin. Small children seek her out and will wait patiently by her side until she can sit down with them and read a story. She corresponds tirelessly with other mothers nationwide and worldwide, especially young mothers seeking advice, and she will stop what she is doing any time there is a need that can only be met with the tender kindness of a motherly touch, or a motherly word. What marks Victoria as so exceptional is the way her motherhood has been consistently expressed with both fierceness and tenderness, simultaneously. She is ferociously protective of the souls of the innocent, gentle with their hearts and ardently attentive to needs they don’t even know they have.

I saw this in her before we were married when she was in college and living off campus. One day she was walking her dog Hilda when Hilda was suddenly attacked by a snarling Bulldog. I saw the whole war, which lasted two seconds. Somehow, in the snarling blur of hair and teeth, Victoria’s outraged fist found its way to the flat snout of the Bulldog. With that one punch came the calm, authoritative words, “Stop it.” The stunned attacker did stop, and stared ashamedly at Hilda’s mistress. The fangs disappeared, and the assailant retreated, tail-tucked and whimpering, across a large field and into history. My first thought: Wow. What a woman. My second thought: What an exceptional mother she will be someday.

I was right. I had the privilege, as her husband, of watching her mother our seven biological children. Each of those children is aware that they have received a full measure of the most single-minded devotion, protection and love a mother can give. And somehow, she’s giving even more today. Not only to her grown children, but to an entirely new generation of 21st Century children.

One more dog story will give you a picture of the heart of a mother whose sympathetic love for all children knows no bounds. A dog belonging to a young friend in our community died. Victoria sat down immediately to write these words to its distraught young owner:

Dear Joel, your mother just let me know about poor old Dixie. I am so sorry; for I know how special Dixie was to you.
It was God who made Dixie- and you- and who arranged things that Dixie would be your dog all these years. And today, God brought the end of Dixie's life, which was a long life for a dog. And a very good life.

But dear Joel, there will be other dogs in your life. Dogs don't live as long as people do, and those of us who love dogs will have to say goodbye to several of them.

In my 57 years I have had to say good by to: Sammy T. Bones, the cocker spaniel my family had before I was born; Chico, a puppy who was run over; Johann Sebastian Bark (Barky); Duke; Trinka, a German shepherd we had for about 15 years; Hilda, a black lab; Dinah, the smartest dog on earth who we entrusted to Mr. Botkin's aunt when we traveled to NZ; Bella, the dog who stayed with me at all times and once saved me from the horns of our bull Wilmot; Bella’s handsome son Beauregard (Bo), ; and Mud, the homeless dog who adopted us in Tennessee who was hit by a car and who I loved very much. That's ten dogs.

But now we have Shebear, maybe my favorite dog of all those dogs. And as much as I loved each of those dogs in their turn, I am not sad about them anymore. And you will have other dogs who, in time, you will love as much as you love Dixie now.

The point is that dogs come and dogs go, as we go through our lives; they are gifts of God to us, but we love them all. I've never had a dog that I didn't love. And when your grief over Dixie has cooled a little, and you get another dog, you will love that dog, too; God just made them that way. But I know it hurts today and I am sorry. I know very well how it hurts to lose a dog you have loved.

But put your trust in God, dear Joel, who made all these dogs for us to enjoy, and who blesses us with all kinds of things to enjoy, as we seek Him.
With much love and affection, your friend, Mother Botkin

It is hard work to be a mother. Why is Victoria Botkin not taking a well-deserved retirement? She is motivated by wisdom. She knows God gives children mothers to depend on and to enjoy. And she knows that when you lose your life in serving, you find real life. Victoria Botkin has found a very real and abundant life.

About the Author

Geoffrey Botkin is a cultural analyst, political consultant, veteran filmmaker, husband, and father. He currently serves as a senior consultant to the Western Conservatory of the Arts & Sciences.

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