By Jackie Runion
The Marietta Times
Submitted by Traci Nichols
Waterford resident Traci Nichols shares a moment with her son, Aceynn. Nichols became pregnant with Aceynn just one month after her first daughter, Ava died from a two-year battle with cancer.
Submitted by Kathy Hockenberry
Army Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry of Reno stands with parents Kathy and Chet Hockenberry after Kyle’s graduation from basic training in January 2011.
Submitted by Tina Parks
From left, Chloe, Kent, Tina, Reason and Spencer Parks of Marietta enjoy a beach vacation together in 2012. The family of five will soon welcome two new adopted daughters from China, Maggie and Lydia.
Submitted by Angela Dingess
Caldwell resident Angela Dingess shares a moment with son Levi Milstead upon his graduation from Army basic training several years ago.
Children make messes gluing macaroni onto picture frames and florists scramble to meet high demands around the second Sunday in May, all in honor of Mother's Day, a chance for everyone to take a day to thank mothers for all they do.
Past the spilled juice on the carpet and the teenage years often associated with a lot of slammed doors, every mom has a story about the struggle, support and reward of motherhood.
A mother again
Waterford resident Traci Nichols and her husband David both wanted to fulfill daughter Ava's wish to have a baby brother or sister.
Just before the Nichols family found out that 4-year-old Ava had cancer, they began the process of trying to get pregnant again.
"We had tried for four years because Ava always wanted a baby brother or sister," Traci said. "Even when she was sick she would pray for one, so we continued to try."
Ava died in 2012 at age 6 without any news of a new sibling, and just one month later, Traci became pregnant with their son Aceynn, named as an incorporation of Ava's initials.
"It was perfect timing, and he came right when I needed him," Traci said. "I was a mom without a kid, and I didn't have a person to take care of, and that was the hardest thing to wrap my mind around."
Aceynn just turned 1 at the beginning of 2014, and unlike Ava, who carried all of her father's features, he is what the Nichols say is a "spitting image" of Traci.
"I believe that God gave us him at the exact time we needed him most and when we can handle it," Traci said.
Though they had been trying for years, Traci realized that while Ava was still sick she needed all of their attention.
"Because of what I went through, I'm a better mom because of it," she said. "It's very easy to get caught up in everyday life and wish away your minutes, but I try to experience everything with (Aceynn) now that I can."
A double adoption
Like many moms, Marietta resident Tina Parks felt a looming empty nest as her three children grew up, and a desire to have more children provoked her and husband Kent to look into adoption.
"We had friends and other experiences with people who had done adoption and it had been in my heart the whole time," Parks said. "Now that our children are older, we feel like we're in a place where we can do this."
Less than two years ago, the Parks were drawn to China and a young girl who needed a home, but found that their paperwork was not ready, and eventually the adoption agency in China informed them the girl was no longer on the waiting list.
"We were sad, so we started looking again and found our daughter Lydia last November," Parks said. "Once I saw her picture, I just knew."
The Parks specifically sought out older children knowing they face a much more difficult time finding adoptive parents.
Just after the match with Lydia was approved, the Parks got a call from the same agency saying the first girl, whom they named Maggie, was available for adoption.
"I feel like Maggie went off the list so we could find Lydia, because had she not, I wouldn't have continued to look," Parks said. "That's how our one daughter became two."
The Parks hope to have both Lydia, 13, and Maggie, 8, to them by fall, where they will join the Parks' three biological children, ages 15, 19 and 22.
"It's a long process, it's lots of paperwork, but the hardest part is waiting," Parks said. "When you're pregnant you know where they are, but when they're on the other side of the world, you have to just wait."
Mother of a soldier
Kathy Hockenberry and her husband Chet of Reno waited anxiously by the phone in summer 2011 to hear details about their son, Army Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry, after he lost both legs and an arm while on a tour in Afghanistan.
Three years later, Kathy is excitedly waiting for the completion of a custom-fitted new home for her son and his wife in Reno.
It's a light at the end of a difficult tunnel for the Hockenberry family.
"I think he's an amazing kid for what he's gone through," Kathy said. "If that would have been me, I would have said 'I'm done.'"
Kathy had to sit out a 10-day waiting period from the time she heard Kyle was injured until someone called to explain the extent of the injury.
"You sit and wait for that phone call, morning and night, it didn't matter, you didn't sleep," she said. "When we got to go to Texas to see him, it was really hard."
Despite her fears, Kathy said as a mother she had no choice but to support her son's decision.
"From the time he was a little boy that was all he wanted to do was joined the Army," she said. "It was not easy when he told me, and I guess I was trying to be prepared, but you never really can be."
Kathy said one of the most difficult aspects of her situation and life as a mother is letting her children have their independence.
"I know it's hard, but they have to live their own life," she said. "Granted, it wasn't easy at times, but you have to be there and be supportive of your kids."
A mom and a graduate
On Saturday, 50-year-old Angela Dingess will receive her associate's degree in applied business at Washington State Community College's spring commencement ceremony, a milestone she will complete after raising three children and having one grandchild.
Decades ago, Dingess received a stenographer degree but never used it once she started a family.
"Once you have little ones you focus on the future and you put yourself on the back burner and then you have to re-focus once you get older," she said.
At her husband's construction company that she joined after getting married, Dingess worked as a laborer, doing everything from pouring cement to painting.
Once her youngest daughter got past the bulk of her childhood and her husband's construction business folded, Dingess decided to make a change, and returned to school in 2012 to help both herself and her family.
"I needed employment, and so I looked at WSCC and spoke to them, and they told me about the bridge program through ABLE that would give me a feel of what school would be like," Dingess said.
After receiving a medical coding certificate, Dingess stuck with the program to receive a degree in medical office administration, where she will graduate surrounded by her family.
"Now I am a grandmother, and everything has come back full circle," she said.