Washington Mother of the Year Is a Happy Person
By Lucy Schouten, Church News staff writer
Francine Mallet Cowie is a Washington native, a temple ordinance worker, a trained soprano, and a garden enthusiast with a special love for roses and hydrangeas. But her favorite role, the one she always dreamed of, is to be a mother.
Named Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc., Sister Cowie constantly seeks to nurture those around her by creating a home for others wherever she is. She is a member of the Felida Ward, Vancouver Washington Stake.
Sister Cowie wanted to be a mother from the time she was a little girl. She describes herself as “one of those lucky girls” whose grandfather made her wonderful doll furniture. As she grew older, she babysat and she studied elementary education at BYU. After she married Douglas Cowie and became a mother to four children, Sister Cowie became a tutor at the local elementary school, a pastime she still enjoys.
“They just make you happy when you’re in the midst of little children,” she said. “They want to please. They want to learn.”
Sister Cowie is both a reader and a writer, and she kept a special family history journal of daily incidents.
“[My children] loved to hear about themselves when they were little,” she explained. “And now their wives love to hear about them.”
Back in 1995 she shared her family’s love of reading in an article about promoting literacy in the September 9 Church News. She speaks of reading as an opportunity for family time, a tool to teach creativity, and a way to learn the gospel.
“Reading scriptures as a family … helps our little children to become better readers,” she said. “There are big words in there that they have to sound out, and then they’re proud of themselves.”
Sister Cowie believes in goodnight kisses, family dinners, and serving a special dessert on the good china even when it’s “just the family.” Doing yard work as a family was another essential.
“They got so they learned to love it,” she said of her four boys. “We never even had to ask our youngest son to mow the lawn.”
Sister Cowie has cultivated the art of happiness as surely as she has tended her garden. The greatest compliment her sons could have paid her was when they wrote that their mother “was always a happy person.”
Sister Cowie has the added gift of helping others to cultivate a positive attitude. As she tucked her children into bed each night, she asked them what the best thing that had happened that day was. Now she asks her 14 grandchildren this same question over the phone.
“I think that feeling of optimism is probably what I was able to give to my children,” she said.
On some things, she was especially firm. “If you can’t kiss your mother, then you’re in the wrong family,” she told her sons.
However, she also tempered the justice of motherly indignation. One Christmas, her sons received a punching bag.
“If you are upset or angry, you go work out your problems on the punching bag,” the Cowies told their children.
It still hangs in the garage, and the success was so great that several other punching bags have appeared in other neighborhood homes.
Even when it involves a punching bag, Sister Cowie’s first priority is to create a home. After all, she is a mother.