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A Mother's Day Tribute: Thanks for the thankless

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated May 10, 2014 at 12:16 AM

‘Staying on my knees and praying...’

Lebanon’s Nichole Clay, who was nominated by her daughter, LaJerrica Cowan, is a mother of five children, with ages ranging from 25 years old to eight years old.

“That’s a big difference,” said Clay. “The generations from my oldest two to the smallest is totally different.”

But despite the challenges of such a broad age range, Clay said she wouldn’t trade anything for them.

“I look forward every day to seeing my children. When I wake up in the morning, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t tell my kids that I love them,” said Clay.

According to Cowan, her relationship with her mother is very close.

“She’s my best friend, honestly,” said Cowan. 

The mother and daughter pair even went to college together.

“I went and became a medical assistant, and she became a medical billing coder. We graduated together, so we both walked the line together,” said Cowan.

The two are also participating in Lean in Lebanon together.

Despite the strong relationships Clay has with her children, motherhood had its share of challenges for her.

Clay had her first child when she was just 14 years old.

“My mother told me when I got pregnant, ‘Wherever you go, your child goes,’” said Clay. “Everywhere I went, my child did.”

She managed to graduate high school and go on to business and junior college, and she also earned her license to do hair and nails.

And through all this, she was a single mom.

“I had to raise my children by myself,” said Clay. “I had to work two and three jobs just to make ends meet…Young ladies need to understand, when you have children at a young age, it’s rough. It’s really rough.”

She credits Jesus for carrying her through the rough times.

“Staying on my knees and praying, that’s what got me through,” said Clay. “Without prayer, I couldn’t have did it.”

‘...You never know when they’re going to leave this world’

Mt. Juliet’s Sharon Roberts, who was nominated by her daughter, Kimberly Roberts, is the mother of one surviving child.

Her son died in 2003, just shy four month shy of his 21st birthday.

“He passed away on her 30th wedding anniversary of double pneumonia. He was the baby of the family; there’s just me left now,” said Kimberly.

“She’s always been mainly the breadwinner in my family. She became strong in that aspect, but her strength really came through after my brother died,” continued Kimberly. “She’s my rock. If I need anything or need to talk to anybody, I go to her.”

Sharon said the most rewarding part of being a mother has been seeing who her daughter has become.

“To see her grow up and be so smart…” said Sharon. “She’s doing college online and getting her masters degree. None of my family went to college.”

But motherhood has not been without challenges for her.

“Me and my husband, we didn’t go past the 11th grade, and some of the work that they do now in math and other stuff…I didn’t know how to do it; I had to get somebody to show her how to do it.”

But by far the most challenging was the passing of her son.

“The most challenging is being able to let go when one [child] leaves this earth…When you raise one and see one go before they get to have a family of their own...” said Sharon. “I know where was a reason God took him from me, and eventually I will know when I get up there with him.”

The experience left Sharon with a piece of hard-earned advice.

“Always tell your loved ones you love them every day, because you never know when they’re going to leave this world,” she said.

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