Cherishing South Dakota Moms
By: Governor Kristi Noem
May 12, 2023
I still remember the first time I was invited to my mother-in-law’s home for dinner when I was dating Bryon. I hadn’t really talked to Sharon or my father-in-law, Al, very much before, and I was nervous.
Sharon is well-known for making her coffee the “old-fashioned way.” She mixes the coffee grounds with an egg and boils it on the stove, then lets the grounds settle to the bottom of the pot before serving. After filling the cups around the table that day, she sat it in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves when they needed more. It was amazing! It was the most wonderful, smooth coffee I had ever tasted, and I quickly drained my cup and asked for more. As Bryon handed me the hot pot of coffee, our hands got tangled, and the entire pot emptied into my lap! As the boiling liquid seeped through my jeans and started to burn the skin on my legs, it seemed to grow even hotter. The entire family jumped into action, but it was Sharon who was brave enough to state the obvious – “you’ve got to get those jeans away from your skin to let the heat out!” I excused myself to the bathroom as Sharon handed me cold rags, ointment, and ice. She kept apologizing for that “darn hot coffee,” saying, “what was I thinking? I’m so sorry, Kristi,” all the way to the bathroom. I was humiliated, in pain from the blistering skin, and wondering what I was going to say when I went back to the dinner.
When I returned to the table, everyone asked how I was and expressed concern. And, once again, Sharon apologized. Then, she made a joke about herself and changed the conversation so we could all relax and enjoy the evening.
I learned everything I needed to know about my mother-in-law that evening. She’s a woman who does things with excellence, even if that means they take a little longer to get done. She loves her family enough to work all day helping on the farm and then come in to host a family meal so they could fellowship together. She is caring, helpful, quick to act, and eager to make everyone feel welcome and at ease – even if it meant humbling herself to do so. She loves to laugh, and when hurts come, she not only gives comfort, but helps people move forward.
Sharon is a remarkable woman. When I describe her to people, I often try to summarize her talents and gifts by saying, “she is basically Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker all rolled up into one person.” But she is so much more than that. Her heart is good. I don’t remember Sharon ever getting angry or sharing a cross word with me, though I’m sure I gave her plenty of reasons to do so.
Early on in my marriage with Bryon, I know I prioritized time with my family and siblings. I wasn’t as responsive as I should have been, and I could have been a better daughter-in-law. Politics can also be very negative at times. And for a family who hasn’t been exposed to that environment before, I’m sure it has been challenging.
I know that not all South Dakotans get to enjoy a wonderful mother-in-law like I do. I consider her one of God’s greatest gifts to me and our family. This Mother’s Day, I want to make sure she knows it. I know she isn’t flawless, but she is perfect for our family. And for that I am so grateful.
Families are flawed, people mess up, and there can be deep hurts and loss incurred for different reasons. This Mother’s Day, thank your mom for being as good as she could be. If you don’t have a mom, find a mom who doesn’t have a daughter or a son and help fill that hole. Think of those who have lost a mom and send them a quick text or make a phone call to let them know you haven’t forgotten their loved one either.
We never know how much time we have left to let people care. This Mother’s Day let’s make the most of it.