Happy Mother’s Day

by Charlotte Kovalchuk, Karina Cuenca, and Megan Diane Beatty

To moms everywhere—the ones changing diapers, shivering in bleachers, teaching at home, reaching out to the estranged, crying in the day care parking lot, or grieving an empty nest. For all the women who embrace any person in need with a soothing, “It’ll be okay, I’m here.” 


Having grown up in a broken home without her mom around, Jenn Novak never thought she would become one herself. “I had a tough childhood; I never wanted to put my kids through that,” she says. But thanks to a loving community, wise mothers, and two kids who teach her something new every day, motherhood has been a joyful, heartbreaking, rewarding adventure for Jenn. “I’m figuring out this parenting thing along with my kids,” she says. “I’m always learning and growing. Holy cow, as soon as you seem to get the hang of something or figure out something, they change it up on you. It’s a huge, cool challenge.”

Jenn’s daughter Parker and son Spencer have since joined that family, filling her life with joy as a stay-at-home mom. “When I was on the outside looking in, I thought moms have free time and relax all the time, but it’s not true at all,” she says. But the hectic lifestyle has its benefits, like being able to wear pajamas to work, enjoying the freedom to dictate her schedule, and having a front-row seat to watch her kids grow up.

Never is motherhood more rewarding for Jenn than during family trips. She didn’t think traveling with kids would be fun, but seeing new places through their eyes makes every trip memorable. “When you’re on an escalator, you’re not thinking how cool an escalator is, or street cobblestones—mundane things you don’t even think about,” she says. One trip to France was especially memorable. “Seeing my little girl play with a little French boy, chasing birds like they would at home, and they can’t speak the same language, I’ve never felt that happiness. Seeing that joy is the biggest reward.”


With three children, three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, Diana Smith’s life can be pretty hectic at times. But, she loves every minute of it. “I can sit back and watch my kids raise their children, and then the grandkids raise theirs,” she says.

The road to grandmotherhood wasn’t easy. As a single mother of three young kids after her husband passed away, Diana moved her shop, The Gift Registry, from Cedar Park to a sleepy Georgetown Square in 1989. She quickly found her place in the community, and worked to transform the Square into a destination by helping start Market Days. Then, when the Palace Theatre was in danger of being torn down, Diana, now a board member, helped raise money to save the historic landmark. “I truly believe the Square wouldn’t be what it is today if it were not for people like her who invested in our future,” says her daughter, Samantha Smith.

After the challenges of working, volunteering, and raising a family, Diana has been glad to step back and watch her loved ones take off while continuing to help guide their lives. “It was an adventure being there for that many years and watching everything,” she says.


As Campus Administrator at Texas Baptist Children’s Home (TBCH), Melanie Martinez helps mothers be strong and healthy moms. She has provided motherly leadership and support to hundreds of mothers and families. She oversees programs that foster healthy dynamics between single mothers and their children and also provides support to young adults who are aging out of foster care.  

The programs were developed to support mothers, and Melanie strives to meet and embrace them wherever they are in their journey. Then, Family Life Coordinators, who live on campus with the moms, empower and equip them with tools, information, and resources to help build their confidence and skills. Melanie and other coordinators do the front-line work, assisting and coaching mothers through anything and everything from day-to-day tasks to once-in-a-lifetime events. 

As a mother and grandmother herself, Melanie has had the privilege of sharing her work in the nonprofit sector with her son, often bringing him into work when he was a child. She shared these experiences with him to help him understand the importance of service and giving back to the community. Melanie also highlighted the mothers who live and work on campus, raising their children in an environment where they get to share their call to service day in and day out and the children get to be a part of the support TBCH provides to the families they serve.


For Major Jo Orozco, Mother’s Day will look different. 

Jo is deployed as an Army Medical Corps Officer in Kuwait, so she and her 13-year-old daughter will celebrate in a more unconventional way. Based out of Camp Mabry, Jo has served for the last 22 years. Currently on her third deployment, she has missed many special life events, but shared her philosophy on finding ways to celebrate special occasions. “Those events and memories are important and it’s my way of prioritizing family.” This year Jo hopes to spend some quality time with her teenager on Mother’s Day by teaming up to play Fortnite, a hobby they share even when 7,000 miles apart.

While strength and sacrifice sometimes seem like the cornerstones of motherhood, being a military mom has its fair share of added challenges. Despite the challenges, Jo chooses to focus on some of the many benefits that military service has provided for her and her family, like early retirement. With over 20 years of military service, she will be eligible for retirement soon, which means she will spend more quality time with her daughter and the military family she has built throughout her career; saying farewell to special moments.


Stephanie Whitson’s idea of motherhood is next-level love. A visit to the hospital with her son showed her a need she didn’t know existed—children waiting to be adopted who also need organ transplants. Sadly, they are ineligible to receive that gift of life until they have a forever home, so the Whitsons began filling their home by adoption. Stephanie takes credit for nothing except being their mom; “We are just a snapshot in the portrait God is painting for their lives.” After losing her son Julian in 2016 and then Elijah 20 months later, she says she has truly learned, through these kids, the value of having a family. The things that speak to her heart are having experiences together, making joyful moments and never taking one second for granted. On April 6th the family finalized the adoption for Ellie (4), and they are currently waiting on a multi-organ transplant. It is touching to know that there is someone out there to care for these precious children who will have a lifetime of special needs, just to give them a chance in life.


Kristin Miller has been a mom and leader in her own family since 2008. In 2012 she started a company that provided an online-based curriculum, where she led and served children, parents, and other educators in education and childhood development. Inspired by her calling to serve and love of teaching, she started her business using her own children to help develop and validate the curriculum that is still in use today. “I practiced my own philosophy of ‘education begins at home and you are your child’s first teacher’,” she says. 

Kristin has worn many hats since becoming a mom and she took some giant leaps of faith as a business owner for the benefit of her family. As a mother and CEO, Kristin recommends being flexible and open to change. “What what may be perceived as enough, may not be what our children or clients want or need. We have to have the mindset that our job, as being a mom, as being a business owner or [being a person] in society, our job is not about us, it’s about those that we serve­­—whether our kids at home or the people we are called to serve in our career.”

For three years Kristin sacrificed time with her own children for her clients, but the loss was not lost on her; so, in 2019, she made the decision to once again flip her business model for the happiness of her children, closing the doors of her Georgetown office and returning to online services.

She recommends moms who also want to be leaders of their own company, ask themselves, “At what cost?” Knowing her own health and the happiness of her family were on the line, she asked herself the same question then made some decisions that at the time felt like a leap of faith.

Fast forward one year and most of the country was, like Kristin, using virtual platforms for teaching and learning. From a faith perspective, Kristin believes it was meant to be for her to return to online services. Now, she offers most of her programs virtually while still being present and happy for her children and husband.