Ravell Call, Deseret News
Warren Tate, left, and Suzanne Tate, second from right, make cookies as a family tradition with their grandchildren, Tate, Sally and Lincoln Ames in Holladay, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011.

Editor's note: This week the Deseret News is highlighting the best stories over the past year in each of its six areas of editorial emphasis, starting with today's look back on some of the top family stories in 2011.

Sitting in the upper offices at the Spanish Fork Macey's grocery store, I struggle to blink back tears as I listen to two mothers explain how torn they feel when they're at work, because they know their kids are at home without them.

They look down at their hands as they talk about balancing priorities and how there never seems to be enough time in the day.

I'm scribbling notes as fast as my blue pen will write, but it's difficult to capture the depth of their emotions and the breadth of their life stories, stories so often pushed aside or ignored because of the seeming monotony of motherhood, or the unglamorous yet crucially important task of parenting.

Yet, days later when I sit down to transcribe my notes, their words still ring in my ears and I can't forget the determined look in their eyes. A look that says they would do anything for their children.

As I write, I realize there is power in these types of stories — the newly single mother going back to work, the infinitely patient woman raising a child with special needs and the former drug addict who cleaned up to be there for his son.

These stories resonate because they are our stories. They are stories about families.

Family is a broad topic, encompassing the young adults forced to navigate shifts in dating and the strong push toward cohabitation rather than marriage, as well as the father who dresses in costumes each morning to lovingly embarrass his 16-year-old son on the bus ride to school.

While other media may scoff at these stories as unimportant or even contrived, the Deseret News believes that the family is a crucial framework through which to view the world, and that as a media organization it's our responsibility to report the facts, as well as how those facts impact families.

Which is why at the Deseret News, you'll find stories that would otherwise go unnoticed — accounts of loving mothers, dedicated fathers, conscientious community groups and insightful trends that underscore the importance and impact of families and the relevance of ordinary people.

Sara Israelsen-Hartley covers family issues, one of the Deseret News' six areas of editorial emphasis. In 2011 she was named the newspaper reporter of the year by the Utah Society of Professional Journalists. EMAIL: [email protected]