Your nominations came rolling in for our first-ever Mother of the Year contest. There are so many incredible women raising children here that it was difficult to single one out. But after much deliberation by the Southern Idaho Living editorial board, we chose a mother who received numerous nominations, from both family and friends. She’s the kind of lady who goes above and beyond to support her children in school, sports, Cub Scouts, or whatever else they’re involved in. She quietly goes around doing good; she serves her community, volunteering her time with a can-do attitude and is loved by everyone around her.

Congratulations to Bonnie Zollinger of Burley, our 2008 Southern Idaho Mom of the Year. Here are Bonnie’s thoughts on motherhood:

I am humbled by this honor. I appreciate those who made this possible. I feel like so many women deserve the same honor. I have learned much from noble and great mothers all around me and many who have gone on beyond the grave.

I love being a mother. I was born to be a mother. As a young girl I always dreamed of the man I would marry and the children I would have. Early in life I began gleaning information that would help me be a better mother, from classes, seminars, babysitting, and my heroes.

Today, after 23 years of mothering, I can say I am a better person because I am a mother. The years of service have molded me and refined me. My young desires, my knowledge, and the daily application of those yearnings have taught me what is important in life.

Love is the most important. My motto is “Love Conquers All.” It does not matter the situation or the person. If you use simple, pure, unconditional love, eventually you get through to them or the problem is solved. Love can heal and love can bind. I have also learned that I cannot change anyone but myself. If we manage our expectations we eliminate disappointment and hurt. I could not raise children alone. I believe in God and constantly ask for his help and direction. I appreciate the many teachers, coaches, neighbors, family and friends who have impacted and loved my children. I appreciate my husband Thales for living, loving, teaching and growing with me.

Photo courtesy Cherie Peterson - Peterson Photography

Bonnie Zollinger has six children and one son-in-law.

I believe the first five years of life are crucial. I learned in college that attitudes, values, morals, personalities and habits for a lifetime are established during the first five years. Pay the price of time, effort and love during those years and the seed is planted in fertile soil. As a child develops from there, they need room to become who they are with our direction, cheerleading and plenty of more love. There are advantages and troubles in every stage of development, so don’t wish away your life. Enjoy each stage for the good things. I follow the great words “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” It has been a joy for me to see the various personalities of my children and to help them discover their talents. I do not have predetermined destinies in mind for who they should be or what they should do. I only want individual greatness for each one. Monica, Dimond, Jerrica, Golden, Sierra, and Stirland are all amazing and I learn from them constantly. I love them with all my heart and I would do anything for them. We named our kids after people they could admire and look up to.

The word “Motherhood” commands endearing respect and reverence. I am grateful to be a woman so I can experience the miracle of mothering love, nurture and influence. I dedicate my life to becoming a “blessed mother.” I salute all the wonderful women who rock the cradle – women who influence the future day by day, moment by moment, act by act, as they care for, nurture, guide, teach and love their children. Children just want to be loved. They will return that love. They are so impressible. Mothers have no idea how much influence they have. Some days you wonder what you got yourself into, but most days children are a jewel in a parent’s crown. Look beyond the moment and see them as they can become. After all is said and done, “It is not easy, but it is worth it.”

Our Mother of the Year will receive a prize package with goodies from Tranquil Touch Facial Salon, Magic Valley Mall, Windsor’s Nursery, Pandora’s, and SAMI Photography.