What's her secret?: "You don't have to be perfect"

abredeson@islandpacket.comDecember 9, 2013 

Kathryn Weatherhead of Hilton Head sits with two of her three grandsons, August, 2, left, and Fritz, 3 months old.

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  • REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE

    The moms featured in this column are not bragging about themselves. They often have no idea they are even being selected for the weekly feature until they get a phone call. Most are recommended by readers. Please send your suggestions of Lowcountry moms to features writer Amy Bredeson at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Name: Kathryn Weatherhead

Husband: Paul

Town: Hilton Head Island

Children: Hillary Dollenberg and Tyler Howard; stepdaughter Lauren Weatherhead; three grandsons

Occupation: Science teacher and department chairwoman at Hilton Head Island High School. Weatherhead has taught in Beaufort County for more than 33 years. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort for almost 20 years and a College Board consultant for the same amount of time.

Favorite mommy moment: My favorite moments were snuggling with my children and reading books before they went to bed. I also loved the time I spent with them in the car, driving the carpools to sports and activities. This was the time we could catch up on their day, and I also got to know their friends. I never regretted the hours of carpooling, and I was the mom who always volunteered to do it. Even though I often complained about it at the time, I remember loving and hating all the projects my kids had to do and how we all worked on them. It was usually something like "Mom, I need to build an exact replica of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by tomorrow morning," or "Mom, can you help me think of something to do for my science fair?"

Most challenging moment: It was always heart-wrenching to see my children when they were sick or injured, and both of them have pretty big surgical and orthopedic dossiers. It is also tough on kids when their parents get divorced.

Favorite book: I could not get by without a Bible. Sometimes I just open it up and get inspiration from whatever page I find. My "go-to" fiction is "Persuasion," by Jane Austen, and I have probably read it 15 times. It is not exactly the same story as mine, but my husband, Paul, and I were college sweethearts and married 30 years later, so I enjoy the story line.

Hidden talent: If I have any talents, they are not really hidden. Most people don't know that I speak a little Japanese, and I am an award-winning textbook author.

Biggest success as a mom: I supported my children in all of the sports and activities they wanted to be involved in and helped them in school. And along the way, they became independent, world-traveled, confident, friendly and well-mannered. I consider them to be really interesting people, and just being their mom is my biggest success.

What are you proud of your kids for? I am proud of both of my children and my stepdaughter for all they have accomplished and for the people they have become. Hillary and Tyler have also married incredible spouses, who are loving and supportive of them, and they have provided me with pride in being a grandmother of three.

What do you do with your grandchildren that you didn't do with your children? Two of my little grandsons are still infants, but I have definitely enjoyed doing things for them and for their parents. August is nearly 2, and he likes to come over to "Gigi's" house. I pretty much let him direct what we are doing. I practically bought my home with grandchildren in mind and have set up the upstairs with toys, the downstairs with a crib and changing table, and we built a swing set in the backyard.

I think when my grandchildren are around, my concentration is all about them, unlike when I had my own little ones and I had to manage the house. I would do anything for them and hope they will know it. I only got to see my grandparents once a year so I plan to be a more "hands-on" grandma.

Advice for other moms: I have two thoughts. First, I used to have a plaque on the wall in the nursery that said "Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow, for children grow up we've learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep ... I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep." That is my best advice: Enjoy your children at each stage of their development, even when you are exhausted. Secondly, as a teacher, I would like to advise moms and dads to be parents to their children and not try to be their best friend. They need boundaries and expectations for behavior, no matter how old they are. Parents are the most important teachers and role models.

What would you tell a younger you? Relax. You don't have to be perfect.

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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