Utah’s Mother of the Year: Being a Mother Is a “Hands-On” Situation

Contributed By Jace Whatcott, Church News staff writer

  • 13 August 2014

Despite this photo being over 20 years old, Melanie Stoker says it is a family favorite. Top row: Michelle, Ryan, Nathan, Jason, and Tyler. Middle row: Melissa, Ron, and Melanie. Bottom row: Brooke, Sean, and Emily.  Photo courtesy of Melanie Stoker.

“The Church really was key [in raising my children]. I truly believe that the Church helps us to raise our children with the groups that they have and the leaders that love them. The blessings of the Church are so numerous that it’s hard to name all of them.” —Melanie Stoker, Utah Mother of the Year

For Melanie Stoker of the Rose Canyon 5th Ward in the Herriman Utah Rose Canyon Stake, motherhood was always in the plan. “It’s something that I always wanted—I always wanted to be a mother,” she said. “[Motherhood] was something that was a priority in my life.”

Even though she always had the desire to be a mother, she has learned many lessons about parenting. “You truly cannot think that you are going to be an instant success,” she said. “It’s something that has to be a hands-on situation.”

With the birth of her first child, her immediate thought upon looking into his eyes was “I have no idea what to do with you.”

But to accompany her zeal to be a mother was the Church. “The Church really was key [in raising my children],” she said. “I truly believe that the Church helps us to raise our children with the groups that they have and the leaders that love them. The blessings of the Church are so numerous that it’s hard to name all of them.”

Sister Stoker did all she could to maintain the focus of her family on Christ and on the scriptures.

When she married her husband, Matt, a widower, and his six children were added to her two children from a previous marriage, she made an effort to make each individual child feel special. “It’s so vitally important to have one-on-one time,” she said.

With the support of her husband, she was able to give each child the attention that he or she needed. “[We would] have dates and do special things,” she said. “We made sure that they knew that they were very, very important to us.”

In order to create a family bond of love, Sister Stoker emphasized the importance of eating dinner as a family. “It was incredibly important to have family dinner time,” she said. “Everyone was to be home for dinner at 6:00 p.m.”

After the meal, the dinner table would turn into the homework table, where everyone would do homework among other members of the family.

Although all her children have left her home, Sister Stoker still does what she can to be involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. “It’s kind of hard when you’ve wanted to be a mother all of your life and then you find yourself an empty nester,” she said. “The thing that has helped me through that is that I recognize that my children and my grandchildren still need [my husband’s and my] help.”

Life has brought many challenges and joys to Sister Stoker and her family. But to sum up how they get through life, she quoted her dad: “Whether we’re going on a diet or in debt, you make life an adventure.”