So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

In the summer of 2000, I was a wide-eyed Nebraska girl who landed an internship in Washington DC. I worked in an office, and I walked the halls of Congress.

Now and then, I had the privilege of listening to a great American Hero. We passed in the halls, and I shook his hand once. He wouldn’t know me, but I knew him. In our home, we read Military history and watched the news, and the first time I laid eyes upon John McCain, I stood up taller, and felt starry eyed. I knew he was a hero. I knew I admired him. But the most profound impact he would make on my life, would come much later…when he made me a better mom.

You see, I was pregnant with my first daughter, and I gave birth to her in the weeks before he won the 2008 Presidential Primary. My maternity leave was spent watching television, as I folded onesies and changed diapers, learning more each day about this everyday American who became a hero. As the summer sped towards fall where he lost the election to Barrack Obama, I returned to my career just as I was finding my way to be a confident mom, and I gave thanks to John McCain for much of that.

While I nursed my firstborn baby, with my feet propped as the news droned on, I thought about the courage with which John McCain lived his life. When offered a “deal” in order to leave his POW confinement, he refused. I thought about the darkness and hopelessness that many moms feel when they find themselves post-partum in the scary and unknown territory as mom, with no sense of when the hard season will end. Sure, being mama to a newborn is nothing like being a prisoner of war. But finding the courage to be the best mom we are capable of being, is a noble feat. I listened to media reporters ask John hard questions about that time in his life, and how he managed to get through those days, and I was always struck by the values of family and faith he held dear, and it reminded me to do the same as I waded through the first months of motherhood.

The second reason John McCain made me a better mom, is because he turned his mess into his message. How I envied this man, who put aside the feelings of hatred and bitterness towards the men who tortured and maimed him. He extended his hands to his adversaries, and smiled at those who criticized his voting record. His message was that, despite the mess he had experienced while in captivity, and the disagreements in the halls of Congress, he would persevere, because he wanted to serve others. As a young mom, who had suffered infertility and loss, I rocked my rainbow baby, while I cried for those babies I never held. Watching Senator McCain be bold about how he had suffered, in order to help other Veterans, gave me the courage to speak up about my loss, and what I wanted to do to help encourage other mother who had suffered in silence. He reminded me that I could use all I had been through to give a voice to those who were silently hurting.

The final reason I believe John McCain helped make me a better mom, is that he was a very imperfect person. As the media began to tear apart Senator McCain’s private life during the summer before the Presidential election, there were times I stared at the TV screen in complete disbelief. I couldn’t believe that the American war hero had words like “affair” and “divorce” in his biography. As the news played on, and I did my own research, I began to follow along in the private life of this man. I wept over the adoption of their youngest child, and how he and his children had all reconciled. His life reminded me that I would undoubtedly make many mistakes as a mom, and in my marriage, and career. But, I got to look over the sum of all he had been through to see how forgiveness, and hard work, and grace could all play a role in living out a full life.

Senator John McCain became the symbol of many things for Americans. For me, he is simply the man who showed me how life can lead us through ups and downs over again, but that we can choose how those experiences will define us.

For all his earthly struggles, I am grateful that he can now be at peace. Thank you Senator John McCain, for making me a better mom.

Leah Peterson

Leah Peterson is a native Nebraskan, living on the ranch her ancestors homesteaded in 1878. She and her husband Matt, met at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and returned to the ranch in 2012 after working and living in Central Nebraska the past 12 years. They are parents to two daughters, Maggie and Lucy. Leah has an undergrad degree from UNL in Communication Studies, and a MA in Leadership from Bellevue University. Aside from her work at the ranch and opportunity to be a stay at home mom, she enjoys writing, photography, community involvement, spending time with friends and family and trying new recipes in her kitchen. Leah published her first children's book in 2011 titled "An Apple for Dapple" and enjoys traveling throughout the state to share her book with children and raise awareness about the importance Agriculture in Nebraska.

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

The Only Way to Freeze Time Is to Take the Picture—So I’ll Take as Many as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two kids sitting in wagon, color photo

Life ebbs and flows. Seasons come and go. One of the reasons I take so many photos is because they are the only way to make time stand still. They provide a nostalgia that can’t compete with anything else. They help us remember the exact moment captured and show us how fast time is fleeting. It doesn’t matter if their texture is glossy or matte. It doesn’t matter if they are in a frame or on a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are professional or if someone’s thumbprint is in the upper corner. All that matters is the moment...

Keep Reading

For the Love of the Game and a Little Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Several baseball players with coach, color photo

When your babies are babies, you think the days are never going to end. You’re so filled up with love for them, but oh momma, you are sooo exhausted. One day runs into the other, runs into the other, and so on. Those days are filled with feedings, diaper changes, sleepless nights, and milk-drunk smiles. You get all the firsts. The first smile. The first laugh. The first words. The first crawl. Before you know it, they’re walking. Walking turns into running. But hold your breath momma, these are the good old days. These long days and even longer nights...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime