Although I reserve this series for 20-something women, I made an exception and interviewed my own mother for three reasons: 1) a chance for us all to learn from a woman who has lived more life than we have; 2) because some of you 20-somethings are, in fact, mothers yourself and possibly looking for some wisdom; and 3) so that we all remember to always see the beauty in our own moms—the women who brought us into the world! Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there—you are doing something beautiful with your lives!
What is your greatest passion in life? How do you live it out?
My greatest passion in life is volunteering for the Greater Gardner Relay For Life as a Team Captain for our team, Herbey’s Harem (there are 7 girls in our family). The team was named after my dad, Herbey Vaillancourt, who died on October 6, 2005, just two weeks before my younger sister, Paula, was diagnosed with breast cancer; thus, we organized a team in his memory and in support of Paula and her fight to win the battle against cancer. I am happy to tell you that Paula is now a 6-year cancer survivor!
This coming June will be the 7th year that I participate in the Greater Gardner Relay For Life with our team, Herbey’s Harem, to show thanks for the blessing Paula received and to support others who are still fighting the battle.
What woman inspires you?
It’s ironic that Natalie has selected to do a story about me, her mom, because the woman that inspires me the most in my life is my mom, Doris Vaillancourt. At the age of 88 years old, she participates on our Relay team by raising money for this great cause, and attends the Relay For Life event every single year. She is a wonderful mother; grandmother; great grandmother; and great, great grandmother; and she makes each one of us in our big family feel special. She, along with my dad, always taught to be kind and generous and to give back whenever we could. I hope I make her proud!
How does what you do for a living fit in with your passions and what you feel is your calling?
Years ago, when Natalie (our only daughter) was born, my husband and I made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom, so what I did for a living was raise our beautiful daughter. Being a stay-at-home mom gave me the opportunity to volunteer for the majority of my life, and that is what I want to continue to do as long as I live.
When do you feel most alive?
I feel most alive when I “feel the love” and that’s when our family—my husband David, my daughter Natalie, and my son-in-law Brian—are all together. Because Natalie and Brian live in a different state than us, this doesn’t happen as much as I‘d like it to. But I embrace the times it does happen, and it makes me feel alive and happy!
What do you think is the most challenging thing about following Jesus as a mother?
My husband and I were raised in different denominations (Baptist and Catholic). Although his heart was always open to Jesus, he wasn't much of a church person. On the other hand, I attended parochial school and felt very attached to the Catholic Church, so when Natalie was a baby, we decided to baptize her Catholic and raise her in the Catholic Faith.
As a Catholic mother following Jesus, my world was seriously challenged when Natalie was 12. She decided to "check out" other denominations and quickly concluded that she felt much closer to God in non-Catholic Christian churches. At first I was uncomfortable with her decision, but as I watched her love for God blossom, I knew it was the right thing for her and realized we must all follow our own heart to find our Lord.
What do you think is the most rewarding thing about following Jesus as a mother?
While it was incredibly rewarding to see Natalie's faith grow, the greatest reward was seeing what witnessing her faith did for her father, David. One day Natalie came home and told us a story of Christian love she had experienced feeding the needy. David was so moved that he immediately started going to church with Natalie. That was 2002, and since then his faith has grown in leaps and bounds. Today he operates a small ministry called The Gracious Lunch for people who are homeless—something that might not have happened if we hadn't let Natalie find her own path to the Lord.
NOTE FROM NATALIE: If you would like to make a donation to the Greater Gardner Relay For Life in memory of a loved one who has lost their lives to this terrible disease, in support of someone who is fighting the battle, or in honor of a Survivor, please do so here.
Alright girls, what about you—what makes your mom beautiful?