“Newsmaker: Joyful Motherhood,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 68
Roberta Lynn Lawler, a 38-year-old mother of six, recently was selected National Mother of Young Children from a group of mothers representing states across America during the 1995 American Mothers Convention.
The youngest of five children, Roberta was born to Robert and Mildred Henry, who ran a Masonic school and home for children in Covina, California. She says, however, that her family seemed much larger. “I grew up with about 150 other children. We ate with them in a huge dorm hall. I learned to share. … I just assumed that my parents could love everybody and that I just happened to be their child,” she said.
Sister Lawler relates that, as a child, she learned many lessons of life in the children’s home. There was a policy that a child who found the lost possession of another child and returned it would receive a candy bar as a reward. “A friend and I took a toy, went back to the sandlot, buried the toy, then later dug it up and took it to the office to get a candy bar. I started to feel bad. I hid my candy bar. Later that afternoon, I went crying to my mother.” Roberta related to her mother what had happened; her mother hugged her and took her to the office where she could begin the process of repenting. Sister Lawler never forgot this incident that her mother turned into a teaching moment on not only honesty but also the positive results of true repentance.
Sister Lawler studied at Brigham Young University, where she received a degree in communications. It was there she met her husband, William F. Lawler. In the Church, Sister Lawler serves as regional public affairs media specialist for her area. The family attends the Waterville Ward, Bangor Maine Stake. Brother Lawler serves as stake president.
In raising their children—Rebecca, age fifteen; Wesley, thirteen; Matthew, eleven; Carrie, nine; Christina, seven; and Daniel, five—Sister Lawler says there have been challenges, but a key is to have joy, which “makes all the difference in the self-esteem of children. They have a more positive outlook on life,” she said. Her husband describes her as “a champion for her children” and says that even with the added demands on her time and the duties associated with the award, she is still able to do things that make their home a happy place.
“She is a natural choice for this award. She is a natural ambassador for mothers and for women in general,” President Lawler said. “The best quality about her is that she tries to make being a mother enjoyable. She is a good teacher, and when she teaches the children, they listen because it is interesting.”
Much of her ability as a mother is due to the example she received from her mother. “My mother was so good to me, and I’ve learned from that,” she said.
Sister Lawler is active in the local Parent Teacher Organization, is cofounder of a local Parent-Involvement Arena group, is a parent advocate for the Maine Advocacy Services for learning-disabled students (inspired by a concern about her own child’s reading difficulties), and has taught art appreciation at local schools.