Voice: "School Bus Mom" is a role model for motherhood

July 18, 2001

We bemoan the fact that our youth have no heroic figures as role models in this 21st century.

That's because we've been taught to believe that only a winner can be a hero. It is unthinkable that a loser could be a titan.

Yet it is in the struggle, not its outcome, that a person's mettle is tried, and it is in his or her epic efforts that a hero is molded.

Let me tell you about my favorite heroine, whose gargantuan efforts got her nothing more rewarding than arrest and the loss of her children:


If you watch "Unsolved Mysteries" you may have seen her story on TV. She was the "School Bus Mom." Her husband was an anti-hero — a gambler and ne'er-do-well who kept his wife and children destitute.

Despite her husband's flagrant negligence, the School Bus Mom did her utmost to provide a happy home for her children. She kept their make-do residence scrupulously clean. And although she was illiterate, she told them (from memory) Bible stories. In all respects she was worthy of a mother of the year award.

Her self-destructive husband was the family's nemesis. There came a time when he had only one thing left to gamble away: The school bus that had provided sub-standard housing for his wife and children. With the school bus gone, the family was homeless. The mother continued to do her valiant best for her children.

Then disaster came. A well-meaning acquaintance, fearing for the children's well-being reported the family's plight to the local welfare department.

Instead of trying to help the School Bus Mom keep her family together, the social workers had both parents arrested.

The mother, who had so lovingly and gallantly cared for her little ones, was later released — only to find that her children had been taken from her forever. She never saw any of them again.

I think her struggle to keep her family together reached epic proportions. A humane welfare system would have reached out to help her keep her family (sans her villainous husband) intact. Instead, they broke her heart, and the children's hearts, by tearing the family apart.

The School Bus Mom is more deserving than any beauty queen or any stalwart sports figure of being crowned with laurels.

These words are probably the only memorial my No. 1 heroine will ever have. I hope she will touch your heart as she has mine as an ideal of what motherhood should be.


El Centro

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