Middletown mother wins national honor

Michelle Wall, right, of Middletown, accepts the award for being the American Mothers Inc., 2016 Mother of the Year from American Mothers President Dianne Callister at the national convention April 26 in Washington. She will serve as an ambassador for mothers across the country, highlighting the importance of motherhood. (Submitted photos)

Michelle Wall, right, of Middletown, accepts the award for being the American Mothers Inc., 2016 Mother of the Year from American Mothers President Dianne Callister at the national convention April 26 in Washington. She will serve as an ambassador for mothers across the country, highlighting the importance of motherhood. (Submitted photos)

MIDDLETOWN –– Michelle Wall, of Middletown, mother of two little girls, was recently named the National Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc.

American Mothers Inc., was founded in 1935 by Eleanor Roosevelt, Sara Delano Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, JC Penney and Norman Vincent Peale to improve the lives of mothers and children in the United States and around the world.

Ms. Wall was recognized as Delaware’s Young Mother of the Year in late April before being sent to Washington to represent Delaware at the national mothers’ convention.

On the final night of the convention, at a gala, a national award is given and Ms. Wall was caught by surprise when her name was announced.

“I had just spent four days with all these amazing women so I thought, ‘there’s no way it’s going to be me,’” she said. “It was so surreal.”

Although she’s been recognized at both the state and national level, Ms. Wall remains modest about her achievements.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mom but thousands of ways to be an excellent one,” she said. “And there’s no way to know how you’re doing as a mom because it takes years and years to see the results.”

Adapting to changes

But she said the key to parenting confidence comes from the support and encouragement of family members and other moms.

“It’s important that we tell each other we’re doing a good job and to encourage one another along this journey because it is difficult, and usually when you judge yourself, you’re being too tough,” she said.

But she does suggest that moms take a moment every now and then to evaluate how they’re doing as both a parent and individual.

“The only thing you know for sure as a parent is that things are always going to be changing,” Ms. Wall said. “So you need to adapt as those changes happen.”

And her parenting has evolved as her daughters have grown. Upon the birth of her first daughter, Ann Stewart, now 10, Ms. Wall decided to take a break from her career in politics and communications until a year ago when she took up work as a fundraiser for Delaware treasurer Ken Simpler.

When Ann entered preschool, Ms. Wall immediately got involved in her education by joining the Mothers of Preschoolers and putting in

Michelle Wall, of Middletown, is mother to Ann Stewart, right, 10, and Ruby, 7.

Michelle Wall, of Middletown, is mother to Ann Stewart, right, 10, and Ruby, 7.

time as a weekly parent volunteer at Appoquinimink School District’s Silver Lake Elementary.

“It was really all about getting involved in my daughters’ education because we need to have a strong focus on education, especially at the elementary level,” she said.

Only a couple years after, Ms. Wall became a Girl Scout leader for her daughter’s troop.

“It’s a really great organization for all young girls because it promotes leadership skills, how to be a well-rounded individual and an overall good person,” Ms. Wall said. “I have the chance to serve as a role model for not only my daughters but for other little girls as well.”

Ms. Wall was born in San Jose, California.

She has lived in eight states, growing up in a military family but has called Delaware home since 2009.

She graduated from James Madison University with a degree in political science and political communications.

After graduating from JMU, she was chosen to be a Virginia Governor’s Fellow. She began her career at the Virginia Governor’s Office and has worked for North Carolina State University, the Raleigh News & Observer and the Arizona Republic.

Community leader

Even with husband, Jason, Ann Stewart and Ruby, 7, and hours of weekly community service, Ms. Walls has become a volunteer for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, focusing mainly on fundraising for support programs the organization offers to patients.

“My mother in law passed away from MS three years ago and I had done a lot of research and became really interested,” she said. “I found out that a lot of support and research is funded locally so I thought fundraising would be something I could do to help.”

She has been successful raising money for the organization, having even won an award for her services to the MS Society in 2014.

“It’s really important to get organizations like the MS Society the local support they need,” she said. “The programs they offer those who have been recently diagnosed are especially important.”

The most successful fundraiser she’s coordinated so far is the annual MSquerade Ball.

“The MSquerade benefits the decently diagnosed in a big way,” she said. “These are people that face struggles every day that are a result of MS. So it’s hard for them to have these struggles on the inside but still appear healthy to everyone on the outside.”

Just last year, Ms. Wall decided to up her involvement in Appoquinimink School District by running for the school board. She won the seat and has been serving since May 2015.

Six months later, her journey to National Mother of the Year began when she her close friend, Kim Stevenson, nominated her for the state award.

She had to develop a portfolio to submit for judgment, including a biography, community service and letters of recommendation.

‘Favorite thing in the world’

“Being a mom is my favorite thing in the world so it’s such an honor to be recognized for doing what I love most,” Ms. Wall said at the Delaware awards on April 6.

Since she has been recognized with both the state and national title, Ms. Wall said she’s received nothing but support from friends and family.

“Everyone’s been really excited and so kind,” she said. “But it’s not just about me. It’s about what I’ll be able to do now.”

As state and national Mother of the Year, Ms. Wall will be at work all summer encouraging nominations for the Mother of the Year award, which are open until Nov. 15.

She said her position as Mother of the Year will enable her to bring attention to issues that face mothers across the country that she learned about at the national convention.

She will also serve as an advocate for American Mothers, which promotes women to achieve their goals both at home and in the workplace, all while serving as an example to their children.

“I think it is the job of a mother to provide her children with both roots and wings,” she said.

“The roots provide a firm foundation and serve as reminder of where home is. The wings provide independence to fly and share with others what they have been taught. A mother can fill the roots with love and the children can use their wings to share that love with the world.”

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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