Lakewood Ranch moms say their mothering skills have been passed down through the generations.
| 9:30 a.m. May 6, 2020
Esplanade Golf and Country Club’s Judy Robinson was the 18th of 20 children born to her parents.
She was 17 years old when her mother, Inez Hampson, died from cancer, but the love she had for all her children still inspires Robinson today.
“She had more patience for 20 than most people have for one,” said Robinson, 67. “No matter what we did, she still loved us. And when you have 20 kids, you’re going to have 20 kids making a lot of mistakes.”
That understanding of being loved unconditionally is one of Robinson’s greatest mothering takeaways and one she tries to impart to her family in day-to-day life. She considers parenting her own children, Lakewood Ranch’s Crystal Rothhaar and Tampa’s Richie Robinson, to be life’s biggest blessing.
“Being a mom is so unbelievably rewarding,” she said. “Children are a legacy.”
Rothhaar said she aspires to be like her mom, who she said takes a genuine interest in people, listens and is kind.
Four years ago when her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and given less than a year to live, Rothhaar’s children, Allie and Ryan, were 6 and 4 years old. Rothhaar realized her children might not get to know their grandmother.
Rothhaar has been determined to be like her mom, who would sit on the floor and play with her children for hours and who loved to lead a troop of Girl Scouts into the woods for an overnight campout.
“Having her as a mom was more important and special than anything else we could have as children,” Rothhaar said. “That’s what I wanted to give my children — that they know I love them unconditionally and to give them my time like she did. We didn’t have all the money in the world, but we had all the love in the world.”
Normally, Judy and Richard Robinson watch Ryan and Allie after school. Since Manatee County public schools went to e-learning, the now 8- and 10-year-olds have been spending each day at their grandparents’ home, completing school work and enjoying quality time together while their parents are at work.
Ryan Rothhaar said his grandma is the best because she helps him with homework and acts as his personal “cheerleader.”
“She keeps me going,” he said. “When she hugs me, I can barely breath.”
Crystal Rothhaar said her mom makes everyone feel special.
Robinson, an educator for 35 years, said it is important to make each child feel like the “favorite.” Some will be easier to love because they behave better or have personalities that better compliment the parent.
But those personality clashes should not make a child feel unloved. She said parents should work hard to help all the children develop their unique strengths and not try to make them be someone they’re not.
Robinson said parents should teach their children proper manners, respect and good behavior, but while doing that, the focus should be kindness, empathy and forgiveness.
“You never say ‘I love you’ too much,” Robinson said. “You are never too kind to them. A child knows if you love them. My mother appreciated life and what it offers. She didn’t let the stress destroy it. She taught me you deal with it. You don’t have self-pity. Always look at the bright side of things.”
Robinson, who has been told by doctors they no longer see “evidence of the cancer,” said she’s not any more special than other moms, and she gives praise to her husband for his role.
She said mothering is challenging, but you need to do the best you can to teach kindness and to teach by example.
“I think love is forgiveness and realizing we’re all just human, and we’re doing the best we can,” she said. “All mothers realize they’re not perfect, and they wish they did things differently or handled things differently.”