Originally created 05/12/00

Mom for a day

There's something about moms that won't let them sit still - not when there's work to be done.

And there's always work to be done.

That's what some area youngsters found out when they took over the job of being Mom. But even when given the opportunity to sit back and relax, the two mothers who won The Augusta Chronicle's Mom for a Day contest - in which kids performed household chores and other mom jobs - couldn't help hovering.

SHONTA SMITH kept a sharp eye on 16-year-old Jerricus as he ironed clothes and vacuumed, swept and dusted their Dearing home. Bridgette Churchwell of Hephzibah offered her daughter, Sha'Cori, advice on scrubbing pots and washing the chicken wings the 9-year-old fixed for dinner.

The Chronicle received 30 entries in the contest, held to honor moms on Mother's Day. For their labors, the children earned their mothers $50 Dillard's gift certificates. The contest was designed not only to give mothers a break, but also to help their kids understand how much work Mom actually does.

"My mother's work is never done," said Jerricus, who "finished" cleaning a couple of times before his mother reminded him of more work he needed to do - until she pronounced the job satisfactory.

"I didn't think that I would be the Mom for a day," Jerricus admitted with a wry grin as he ironed clothes with over-deliberate care, arranging jeans and T-shirts so that seams lined up precisely. He just thought it would be a nice thing to give his mother some recognition for all the work she does, he said.

"I thought it was real nice of him to enter. It feels good to have a break. . . Now, don't stop and go watch TV," Ms. Smith admonished as her son paused in his work to check the game show on in the living room.

Besides ironing, Jerricus picked up his two brothers from school, something Ms. Smith usually has to do after she gets off work at CSRA Health Care in Thomson. Jerricus, a Thomson High School junior, came home to a pile of ironing that had to be done so the family would have neatly pressed clothes to wear the next day. Then he moved on to the living room, where he vacuumed and reluctantly dusted - jobs that Ms. Smith does every other day because of the grit that settles in the family's home from the dirt road outside.

When one of Ms. Smith's other sons, 14-year-old Martrell Roberts, made the mistake of coming inside the home, he was roped into cleaning the bathrooms - much to Jerricus' relief. Dusting around the knickknacks on the fireplace mantel was bad enough, although he conscientiously swiped at the grooves in an all-out cleaning attack.

Eventually, the sound of Martrell's voice filtered out of the bathroom, where he sang as he cleaned.

"The work is never done," Ms. Smith said, finally sitting back on a chaise lounge in the living room, where she could still keep an eye on Jerricus sweeping the vacuum cleaner over the carpet with the cord draped over his shoulder. "I stayed up until 2 a.m. one Friday night cleaning. I came into Jerricus' bedroom to vacuum, and he looked at me and said, `It's two o'clock in the morning! What are you doing? Stop cleaning!"

Even with the boys hard at work, Ms. Smith had trouble relaxing.

"I feel like I'm being useless," she suddenly admitted, laughing. "I feel like I'm being lazy, sitting here. I feel like I should be doing something."

BRIDGETTE CHURCHWELL couldn't keep still, either. Strategically situated, she kept an eye on both her 6-year-old son, Donnell Jr., as he cleaned his room and her daughter Sha'Cori, 9, who was washing dishes in the kitchen. She shook her head as 4-year-old Ashli brushed Pop-Tart crumbs from the dining room table onto the already-swept floor and sent the little girl off for a broom.

"They're not allowed to vacuum without supervision," Mrs. Churchwell said. "They're hard on the vacuum cleaner. We went through three vacuums since we moved in here."

Despite Donnell Jr.'s enthusiasm - he wanted to wash down shelves that his mother insisted only needed to be dusted - he failed Mom's room inspection. Eventually, he managed to get his room cleaned up with the help of his dad. Mrs. Churchwell was wary of checking closets, despite Sha'Cori's insistence that they were clean and it was safe to look inside. The jobs were finished to Mom's satisfaction - although it sometimes took a while and Mrs. Churchwell had to offer tips and advice on what needed to be done.

"I don't think they know what they're getting into," she said, laughing.

Sha'Cori scrubbed the dishes diligently, helped pick up the house and swept, but she was happier not having some mom responsibilities full-time. The oldest sibling, Sha'Cori had to cook for the family - shake-and-bake Buffalo wings that Mrs. Churchwell thought would be easy to fix. Even though her mom said she was becoming a pretty good cook, the Meadowbrook Elementary fifth-grader admitted that she wasn't looking forward to fixing dinner.

She didn't have to worry - she had the assistance of a mom who couldn't resist the urge to help.

"Here, let me show you how to do this," Mrs. Churchwell kept saying, offering quintessential mom advice. "Don't touch anything else after you've touched raw chicken, until you've washed your hands. Make sure to wash your hands with the anti-bacterial soap.

"Now that you're starting to cook more, we need to get some oven mitts, but right now, remember to always use potholders when you're putting something in the oven."

Helping hands

Here's a list of mothers whose children volunteered to be Mom for a Day for The Chronicle's contest. The mothers' names are followed by the names and ages of their children. We're sorry all of them could not participate. But we wanted to share their names because it's the thought that counts. Happy Mother's Day, moms!

Brenda Alspaugh; Alan Alspaugh Jr., 8, Elizabeth Alspaugh, 7; Augusta; Sharon Baker; Van Baker, 14, Will Baker, 12, Suzy Baker, 10, Brawner Baker, 8; Martinez; Vertrille "Dee" Boyer; Eric A. Boyer Jr., 7; Grovetown; Dorothy Buchanan; Chakala Lawton, 16, Brittney Lawton, 14, Detra Lawton, 13, Brandon Buchanan, 11; Hephzibah; Tammy Butler; Chaz Butler, 9; Evans; Celeste Craft; Ashley L. Craft, 10, Aaron Craft, 8, Haley Craft, 5; Augusta; Mildred Ann Davis; Markeshia Lambert, 15; Augusta; Anne P. Derricott; Jessica Derricott, 11; Jackson; Tammy England; Rachel England, 8, Will England, 4; Martinez; Saundra Everette; Jessica A. Everette, 12; Augusta; Heidi Hobelman; Hilary Hobelman, 9; Evans; Wanda Hodges; Morgan Carter, 11, Cher Carter, 15, Charles Carter, 17; Augusta; Mary J. Johnson; Rochele M. Johnson, 13; Hephzibah; Pam Jones; Marquetta Jones, 15; Augusta; Kate Klein; Collin Klein, 7, Blake and Morgan Klein, 8, Codie Klein, 4; Augusta; Rena A. Lee; Brandon A. Lee, 6; Augusta; Karen Lewis; Susanna Lewis, 15; Louisville, Ga.; Erma Jean Lowery; Brittany Lowery, 9; Augusta; Bonnie McCauley; Brandy McCauley, 12; Martinez; Rose McNeill; Heather Harden, 12; Thomson; Christina Mode; Andrew Mode, 10; North Augusta; Kathy L. Phillips; Alex E. Phillips, 12; Augusta; Wendy Reeve; Will Reeve, 8, Luke Reeve, 6, Matt Reeve, 5; Augusta; Josie Rogers; Christopher Rogers, 25, Bobby Harold Rogers, 21; Thomson; Donna Sansot; Ian Sansot, 13; Martinez; Janet Taylor; Rachel Taylor, 7; Hephzibah; Tammy West; Tanya West, 12; North Augusta; Kathy Winstead; Seth Winstead, 12, Bonnie Winstead 10, Anna Winstead, 3; Warrenton, Ga.


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