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Reflection and Realization
Mommy Musings 2-21-24

It’s a full circle moment around here for this mom.

Now entering in my 23rd, yes 23 years of typing words for this publication, I’ve come to realize the longer I do this the more likely those words are to come through my fingers.

I shared a bit of this story last year. The refresher can be summed up quite simply, 22 years ago this month I covered my first event, Oakdale’s Junior Miss 2002, hosted by Soroptimist International of Oakdale.

While the event name has been altered to “Distinguished Young Women,” and the faces of some SIO members have changed, the scholarship program event remains the same.

This year, one of the faces of the eight participants belongs to my daughter, whose bio just happens to be in this same issue.

First covering the event 22 years ago, it was my first article (ever) and I was a nervous wreck. Not yet a parent myself, I had become aware of how important the event was not only to the participants but to their families as well. I did not want to mess this up.

Looking back, I can’t help but smile as I think of all the hours, yes, hours put into that story. I attended rehearsals during the week, spoke with the participants, as well as the club members responsible for presenting the program.

The end result, a phone interview with the winner, a couple of photos (I took dozens) and a couple thousand character story, which went into a scrapbook or two.

Not to be a dream crusher, my editor and mentor Marg Jackson waited a few weeks to share we rarely have the time to put that much dedicated time into one story. Baffled by how else would I get it right, the veteran shared it would get easier and I would get better (aka gain confidence).

She was right on both accounts.

As I look to Saturday, Feb. 24, it’s a bit odd and extremely cool at the same time.

That early experience gave me an insight to all that my daughter and the other girls have put into competing in Saturday’s program. Funny enough this will not be my first, but second time attending DYW as a “family guest” and not the lady from the paper.

Several years ago I was blessed to be invited by a participant to sit in her family row. Now this week I will spend time communicating and coordinating with the wonderful friends and family my contestant has bestowed the same honor.

Explaining the program to an out-of-town guest this past weekend, she asked who would be coming. It was an odd question to answer, as I realized, aside from my parents, my son and I, she wouldn’t know anyone else sharing our row. She expected me to list off a group of friends my daughter’s age versus the list I offered. When faced with the question of who my daughter wanted to invite, she quickly provided a list of impressive women, who happen to also be my girlfriends. All from varying backgrounds and professions, my contestant got to work texting each of them and inviting them to support her.

My heart bursts as I remember the moment of us driving to UCSF for a doctor appointment as she busied herself sending out her invites. As we drove each one replying with, “wouldn’t miss it,” “I’d be honored,” or “Absolutely!”

As my out-of-town friend heard of the list of people in attendance her reply made me chuckle, “No pressure,” she stated.

In that moment I shared with her something which is an insight to the program I’ve not had before as the local reporter. Not once in the past six weeks has my daughter said a thing about winning. She’s spoken about the friendships, the encouragement and the support of the participants and the past participants who come back to help.

She’s shared her excitement for learning the varying routines and she’s shared stories of camaraderie with girls she knew, but truly hadn’t spent a lot of time with prior to this program.

Oddly just like last year and my full circle moment with her brother participating on the OHS Aca Dec Team, the competition is the driving force, but the experience has been so much more than expected.

So please forgive me as I take a moment and thank the Soroptimist International of Oakdale, all the volunteers and the “has beens” (aka last year’s participants) for all they put in for making this happen for this small group of Junior girls.

Regardless of how things play out Saturday, these girls will be leaving with invaluable lessons and memories. That feels like a win already.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.