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Mothers of the heart

Cowtowns & Skyscrapers: Remember this Mother’s Day to thank those who cared for us.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

May 10, 2024

2 Min Read
flowers and mom card
MOMS: This Mother’s Day, remember to call your mom if you’re able. But also give a thought to the mothers of our hearts. arianarama/Getty Images

I’ve been blessed with one mom in my lifetime. And make no mistake, I love her very much.

But I’ve got countless “mothers of the heart” who’ve invested their time, their prayers and their hearts in making sure that I turned out OK these last 40-some years.

There were the church mothers who sat in the pew behind ours each Sunday. The ones who’d walk with a fussy baby in the back of the church, or play peek-a-boo with a bored toddler. They kept an eye on me and my siblings for Mom while she played the piano for the service when I was little. And I know as I grew older they kept me in their prayers.

Some were mothers of my friends. The ones who opened their homes to raucous, noisy sleepovers of giggling girls. They packed their vans with kids to go to 4-H meetings and sporting events. They were the room moms and the school chaperones, keeping us safe and showing us, we were loved.

Some were teachers who saw in me talent I didn’t see in myself or value at the time. But they nudged me, cajoled me, and harangued me into shaping that talent. I’m a writer because of those teachers. I can speak in public because of them. I’m confident on the stage and in my own abilities because of them.

There were the 4-H leaders who showed me to make the best better. The show moms standing ringside cheering me on. The moms who — still, after all these years — check in on me when I see them and give me hugs and tell me how proud they are of how I turned out.

Not all of them were related by blood. Some of them didn’t have children of their own. They mothered by instinct, not by expert handbook. They’ve celebrated my highs and have held me at my very lowest of lows. Just as if I was their own. To be sure, sometimes I resisted their mothering ways, and I may have caused them to worry here and there.

But they were all mothers of the heart to me. And to every other child who came into their perimeter.

And my mom did all the same things for their kids in return. She held hands and wiped tears. She deployed the hugs of celebration in equal measure with the strong mother “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” look of disapproval to those kids who needed them. My mom used to say, “it doesn’t matter who you are — if a kid is in need of mothering, you mother.”

This Mother’s Day, remember to call your mom if you’re able. And be sure to remember the mothers of your heart if you can.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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