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Catherine Nagle Headshot

Behind a Thriving Family

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MICHELLE OBAMA
ASSOCIATED PRESS

What does our First Lady, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and my mother, Amelia DeNofa, have in common that make a family thrive?

In an interview with NBC News that aired Tuesday evening, Clinton explained one of the many reasons why she may forgo a 2016 run.

"I am about to become a grandmother in the fall, which I know is gonna change my life," she said. "I don't know how I'm gonna feel about that. I wanna feel the feelings around becoming a grandmother. I don't wanna be focused on something two years away. I wanna be focused on this baby right in front of me."

Before Barack Obama was elected President, Michelle Obama insisted on having a comfortable place for her mother to live with them to ensure that their two girls would have a solid foundation. This made it possible for her to campaign with her husband without fear for their daughters' well-being.

A Mother's Wisdom

When my daughter was just 2 years old and my first husband's company wasn't doing well, I took a part-time job as a hairstylist on Saturdays to make some extra money while my husband stayed with her. I loved working and being with other adults, and my boss wanted me to work more than one day a week. I wanted to accept, but I noticed that my mom was not very supportive when I told her about this plan. When I asked why, she told me that my daughter was much too young for me to even consider leaving her for a job, and that I could go back to work when she started school in a few years. She also told me that I had the rest of my life to focus on my career, and that this was not the time to do so because it was my responsibility to nurture my child before she started school. After hearing that, I stopped working entirely because I couldn't stand having Mom upset with me and I trusted her wisdom. I have never regretted my decision, because by the time my daughter started first grade, I was a widow with the total responsibility for supporting both of us. I realize now that those first five years were of the utmost importance for my daughter, helping to maintain her sense of well-being during such a trying time for both of us.

About Amelia DeNofa

Against all the odds, my mother kept all 17 of her children under her wing. It was only after she died that so much had changed. She wasn't Marie Curie or Florence Nightingale, but she knew the formula for raising happy children and maintaining a thriving family. It was her presence that brought light and love to our lives. And her absence left us in confusion and darkness. Sadly, this led to broken families and strained some of us who were mothers with young children, and who had to work outside the home. This new of child-rearing was considered proper and modern, so we went tried it for a while, especially without our mom to guide us and put us back on the right track. Within two years after her passing, family members had mental health issues that resulted in drug dependency and depression, and even some of my teen siblings dropping out of school. In some cases, the primary responsibilities of marriage and parenting were put aside to fulfill careers and outside interests. Without our mom to face up to about those things we weren't doing right, many of us faltered and then had to face ourselves and cry.

And it continues. Just in the past couple of years, we mournfully buried four young nephews and two younger brothers. We cried over our siblings' grandchildren's attempted suicides. We didn't see the warning signs that surely, our remarkable mother would have seen in her deep wisdom; while she walked the earth, all 17 children miraculously thrived and were safe in her hands. I know these tragedies could have happened if she were alive; however, none of them did. And I know, at all cost, I have a duty and responsibility to be a parent first to the best of my ability. These things Mom taught me by example and with grace and a positive outcome, in much the same way as First Lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton showed their love and responsibility with their most precious cargo, which in turn demonstrated a blessed success for everyone around them.

Role Models

We've all been blessed with incredible role models that continue to show us the way. And by the grace of God may we open our hearts, minds, and souls so we may learn from the wise the difference between material success and the true riches in life.

Catherine Nagle grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the author of Imprinted Wisdom.