Mother of the Year 2014: Lisa Whiteside
Writer / Kate Rhoten
When we imagine a mother with children, we don’t think about how she became a mother. This year’s winner became a mother to two young boys, Parker and Brady, when she married their father, Bobby. This mother learned a lot about what it takes to be a mom and has learned to live with organized chaos. This year’s Center Grove Mom of the Year is Lisa Whiteside.
Bobby nominated his wife for Center Grove Mom of the Year. When asked how she found out about the nomination, Lisa said it was during a busy evening trying to get dinner together. Bobby, Parker and Brady had the iPad out trying to get Lisa’s attention. When they finally did, she looked at the iPad screen, saw the list of nominees and found her name on there as well. Lisa was shocked to say the least.
From the Beginning
Lisa met Bobby through a mutual friend. As she tells her story, she was very thoughtful about the character of man she wanted to find. “It would have been nearly impossible for me to date [for any length of time] someone I did not respect. I had been through some heartaches, and I wasn’t about to settle,” Lisa explained.
She was in her mid-20s and over the dating thing. Lisa recalled telling this friend, “I just don’t want to date anybody. I am a Christian.” Her friend responded by saying that it was funny Lisa would say that because she had a friend who was a Christian, too.
Introduced in 2007, Bobby and Lisa started dating. They took several months to get to know each other before Bobby introduced her to his boys. Bobby’s first wife, the mother of Parker and Brady, had passed away from ovarian cancer in 2004.
Meeting the Boys
The first time Lisa met Parker and Brady was at Mrs. Curl’s. Lisa recalled, “We met for ice cream and then played on the playground. That was our first meeting. It was nice, fun, and they were adorable. Brady was four. Parker was five, almost six. So cute.” Over the course of time, they would all do things together. They would go to church and retreats, and Lisa’s first time to the circus was with the boys.
Lisa would tell you that she did not have a lot of kid experience coming into this. She said, “I am the youngest of three kids, a brother 12 years older and a sister five years older. Everyone was out of the house by the time I was 13. There was no one younger than I was, and I was the youngest grandchild. The boys have a high energy level, and getting used to that was interesting. I’m on board now.”
Initially, Brady was hesitant. Lisa said, “Brady was a bit standoffish, very much Daddy’s boy. He was cautious if I made him a plate of food, helped with his pants or tying his shoes.” Lisa knew she wanted to be sensitive to the boys’ loss and allow Parker and Brady to get to know her on their terms.
Becoming a Family
When the time was right, they decided to get married. Parker was very excited, and Brady was coming around. They were married in Cabo San Lucas. It was a family affair: Parker, Brady, Bobby’s mom and dad, Lisa’s mom and her sister attended. With the change coming, Brady was looking forward to calling Lisa “Mom,” but to avoid confusing anyone, they decided to wait until after the wedding.
On that special day in November 2008, Brady watched Lisa as the day progressed. He stayed near her and held her hand throughout the day. Lisa explained, “He fell in love with me that day. I was in this dress, and he was kissing me and he wouldn’t leave my side.”
There were a couple of days for the newly married couple to be with the boys in Cabo. “Brady wanted to sleep with me, like right beside me, holding my neck, nose to nose. It was so sweet, the sweetest thing,” Lisa said of those nights together before the honeymoon.
Heartbreak During a Time of Celebration
After the wedding in Cabo, Bobby and Lisa held a reception on Jan. 3, 2009, for all the family and friends in Indiana who were not at the wedding. Lisa had family and friends in from Connersville for the celebration. Bobby had made one of his 10-minute videos that he creates for any occasion. All was well.
Then an unfortunate calamity occurred. Lisa explained, “At the end of that evening, there was an accident. My father fell down a flight of stairs and ended up passing away. That was definitely a huge tragedy. It has been something that has really stretched us; it’s trying, you know, to go through such a thing and then have it be at my wedding reception. What are the chances of that?”
Going through that tragedy has given Lisa some insight with the boys. She can empathize with Parker and Brady in a different way than before. Lisa continued, “I think it helped me better identify with the boys. It has been very important to me to keep his memory alive. And in regards to the boys, I want the same for them. I made them each a scrapbook, from not only their birth but also starting with their mommy dating Bobby, wedding, etc. I want them to see it and look at it anytime because we should always remember those who have passed. It is important to me that we talk about those that are gone, decorate their graves and honor the life they lived.”
Lisa said faith helped get her and her new family past the tragedy of what happened at what should have been a most joyous occasion. It was hard, and it tested Bobby, Lisa and the boys early on. “A lot of prayer, leaning and trusting, the moral of my story, I do nothing without God,” said Lisa. Her favorite bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
A New Addition
Now Parker and Brady have a sister. “Ava is great. I think the interesting thing about having Ava is I’ve thought about what the boys’ mom felt and what she felt at each different stage. I think it’s made me grow closer to the boys. How can you possibly have more compassion by already knowing their story? You already know so much. Still, thinking about her and what she had to go through made me draw even closer to them. And having Ava has brought our family closer,” Lisa said.
Today and Beyond
Lisa enjoys an hour or two in the morning before the children get up to have her quiet time. When asked about her hobbies, she said, “I like to plan parties, scrapbooking and wrapping gifts.” Beyond that, she is happy. “I really am just so content. This is probably the most content I have been in a long time, I think, just doing what we are doing and enjoying each different phase of our kids’ lives,” Lisa explained.
When asked about her goals for the children, she thought for moment. Lisa stated, “The mark of whether or not I will be successful as a mom will be if my kids grow to adulthood and have a character that I truly respect. And really, that is their most important thing. I’m a physician’s assistant. Health is very important to me. But I don’t really care what they ate for dinner last night or tonight. It’s about their character.”
To her, she is doing her job as a mom. Lisa said, “Doing this job has made me realize that a lot of moms do the same job and deserve just as much of an honor, you know? I don’t know that I need to be singled out, but I will take it with thanks.”
Kate Rhoten is a wife, mother of two boys, financial coach/owner of 4 Walls Money Coach, columnist, and freelance writer for Center Grove Community Newsletter, living her dream debt free.