1 of 5
Melissa DeMoux
Shanalee Eyre Pothier, American Mothers Inc. 2011 National Young Mother of the Year, sits next to her mother, Linda Eyre, a former young mother honoree.

SALT LAKE CITY — Sporting heels instead of sneakers and holding glasses instead of Sippy Cups, moms from across the country flooded the Little America Hotel April 29–May 1 to attend the American Mothers Inc. national convention.

This three-day celebration of motherhood recognized women and their essential role as mothers.

“Often times moms get overlooked,” said Conell Branan, newly appointed AMI national president. “They are just at home doing their job, taking care of their children and their families, but they are making a significant difference. Strong moms strengthen their families. When you have strong families you have a strong country and everyone is elevated.”

Under the theme of “Motherhood Elevated,” the Salt Lake AMI committee welcomed moms of all ages and backgrounds to recharge their motherhood muscles at the 76th annual AMI national conference.

Each year, AMI selects a “mother of the year” and a “young mother of the year” from each participating state. Utah’s 2011 young mother of the year, Emi Dalton, triumphed through difficult odds to become a mother and says there is nothing she loves more. The state “mothers of the year,” including Utah’s Sally Ann Fitzgerald Olsen, were honored in a candlelit procession during a gala dinner.

The culminating event of the convention was the announcement of AMI’s “National Mother of the Year.” This year’s honoree, Ernestine Allen, hails from Washington, D.C., and was one of 18 children growing up. Allen is not only the mother to her own children but has also mothered countless neighborhood kids and even struggling adults.

“It has been an amazing journey,” she said. “I’m so grateful to God for where he has brought me from. I would encourage all the mothers out there to become part of this organization and to enjoy life and thank God for being a mother.”

AMI is a nonprofit, non-political, interfaith organization. It recognizes the critical role of motherhood in America through educational and community outreach programs. AMI aims to empower and applaud mothers and to promote the message that “strong moms strengthen families.”

These women meet regularly in local state chapterstproviding service, promoting hands-on parenting and mentoring one another.

“One of the benefits of getting together with other mothers is to realize how much joy there is in motherhood,” said Michaelene Grassli, Utah AMI member and former LDS general primary president. “Sometimes it seems so hard, and we can’t see beyond the spilled Cheerios or the vomit on the bed sheets. Being together can reinforce the joy that comes from being a mother.”

The women involved in AMI come from many circumstances: some are business owners, religious leaders, have small children or are empty nesters. The ribbon that connects them is their stalwart celebration of motherhood.

“Mothers need to know that it is worth the effort that you put in to be a good mother,” Grassli said. “To be a good mother usually means taking the harder path, making a harder choice. Mothers need to know that it is worth it to take that harder path.”

This organization seeks to help moms do that.

“We know that the world’s value of motherhood fades with each year,” Grassli said. “We have to keep the value up.”

Raising that motherhood ensign, Utah mothers rubbed shoulders with mothers from across the nation. They sidled up together to enjoy the convention.

Nearly 400 women with varied accents and upbringings ambled around the Little America Hotel attending breakout sessions. The topics ranged from “Creating Income from Home” to “Getting off the Excess Express.”

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. You can email her at [email protected] or follow her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.