Non Traditional is in my Genes


I remember a whistle at the back gate of the house. Pictures show a handsome silver haired man with glasses, sometimes in uniform and other times in dress pants and a nice shirt. The pictures are all formal and stiff, and are that of a stranger. I never got to know him because my father died when I was four. And my mother was left alone to raise me and my two sisters.

Before she married, my mom graduated from college and enlisted in the Army, serving as a dietician. Marriage and children ended her career. At the time she left the service, my mom outranked my dad. He was a Master Sergeant and she was a Lieutenant. Those were the days when women weren’t allowed to stay in the military when they had children. On the day my father died, my mother was a stay at home mom.

That’s when she took charge. With the support of friends and my grandmother, who came to live with us, mom dusted off her degree and went back to work. She applied for a job with the local school district so we could all have the summer off together. It was only five years later that my grandmother lost her battle with cancer.

I’m not sure how mom was able to overcome the grief and I remember times when she shut herself in her bedroom to cry. But, she never gave up. I learned about strength and putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward, even through the darkest times.

My mother never remarried. She was the head of our family making all the difficult decisions, encouraging, disciplining and serving as an example to three strong willed girls.

My mother was there when I was going through my divorce and during my struggle as a single mom. She watched when I was sworn in as a police officer. She stood with tears in her eyes years later when I was promoted to Sergeant. She was so proud. I know she was there in spirit when I became a Lieutenant and then a Captain.

My mother was, and continues to be, my inspiration. It seems the women in our family never take what is considered to be the traditional role, but blaze our own trails.

As Robert Frost wrote,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I love you, mom!


Thank you SO MUCH for profiling your mom. She sounds absolutely INCREDIBLE and these are the people we need to hear MORE of – those everyday warriors who overcome HUGE odds, just to make life work.

I love this 🙂

Claudia Schmidt

Your mother sounds wonderful and what a lovely tribute to her. I feel a similar way about my own mother, who wasn’t a single mom but struggled with Multiple Sclerosis her whole life and never shared any of it with any of us until her late 50’s. Women back in the 50’s were sooo strong. We have so many more choices in this era, and for that I’m grateful.


There were lots of women warriors in those days, Lizzi. They’ve made a lot of things possible for us today. Thank you.


Your mother had MS and kept it to herself, Claudia? Unbelievable. Aren’t we lucky we have such great role models. They led the way. 🙂


What an amazing woman your mom was. She sounds like a sort of pioneer in fact.

Kudos to you on your rise in the police department. I don’t think I knew you were a police officer. Very cool!


This story brings back memories that hit the very depth of my soul. This amazing woman is my mom too. She led a life of giving and not much receiving. She overcome odds just as the three girls (not so young anymore) in the photo have ever since she went home to be with the LORD. Thanks MOM for making us who we are today!!!

Mona AlvaradoFrazier

Your story is such a loving, insightful tribute to your mom. I’m often flabbergasted how strong and resilient mother’s were in the 50/60’s (my own included). I’m sure there are more stories out there and hope sons and daughters write them down.

I thought I had it hard as a woman in law enforcement (now retired-Captain) but I’m sure it was twice as hard for your mother in the military during the 50’s.


What a terrific story – of both you and your non-traditional trailblazing Mom. Thanks for sharing and I am sure you are setting a wonderful example for your own children.


Thank you, Don. It’s been a great job and I’ve had a wonderful career. I love reading your stories from the streets. 🙂


Mona, I can’t imagine how difficult it was in the military in those days. I’m so proud of what she was able to accomplish. Our experiences, I’m sure, can’t even begin to compare. You and I need to catch up one of these days so we can compare stories. I’ll look forward to it.


Thanks for stopping by, Kimba. I really appreciate your kind comments. I’m just trying to follow in the BIG footsteps of my mom.

Kristi Campbell

AWWW. I love love how you finished this sentence. Your mom sounds amazing and I have extra admiration for her this week after just three days of snow days. OMG I type that and feel awful for saying so but I guess the point is that although I work part-time and my husband is now the bread-winner (traditional), this week was HARD when my son didn’t have school, because of the no-break part. I guess we just do what we do. Sometimes it sucks but mostly it’s life. And mostly, life wins. Excellent job, you.


Kristi, I hope the snow finally lets up. Weather has been crazy. I remember snow days when my son was young. It was tough, especially when it is so unexpected and you aren’t prepared, so I know exactly what you mean. My mom had three teenage girls at the same time and we we were definitely wild. We do survive it, even us kids. Thanks!!

Chris Carter

Amazing post Jennifer… I am so inspired by your mother’s story and your beautiful tribute to her!! Such a powerful message here…. I love love love that Robert Frost’s quote.

God bless your mom for having the courage and the determination and above all the integrity to fulfill her purpose and forge ahead with such incredible endurance. Favorite line?

“It seems the women in our family never take what is considered to be the traditional role, but blaze our own trails. – LOVE.


Robert Frost’s quote is one of my favorites, Chris. It really describes my mother’s journey. I hope that I told her and showed her that her sacrifice and courage was worth it. You provide such wonderful encouragement and support. Thank you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge