Mom of the Year: Rhea Atwater


Motherhood can tend to be a thankless job. This past year, moms have been asked to step up more than ever. Some became schoolteachers for their kids who were sent home by school districts. Others devoted themselves to deep cleaning and sanitization. Some did it all while working from home. Even empty-nester mothers found themselves hosting their children once again.

At Syracuse Connection Magazine, we’re starting an annual tradition to salute the city’s extraordinary mothers during Mother’s Day month. Our hope is that by honoring one mother a year, mothers everywhere, living and deceased, will be revered. Thanks to all those nominations that were sent in; it was very tough to choose between amazing mothers. We’re starting this tradition with Rhea Atwater, who is a talented multi-tasker.

“Rhea is always willing to help people with their kids anytime you need her. She’s a great example of motherhood.”
-Rhea’s friend Deanna Haskett

By Edgar Allen Poe
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
My mother—my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

About Rhea:

Rhea Atwater is a mother of four children. Before that, she was a kindergarten teacher at Syracuse Elementary for years. When she started her own family, she still substituted for classes. Now, she’s able to teach virtually from home.

This is what her friend Courtney Johnson had to say:
“This mom amazes me all the time! She does so many things! She takes master gardener classes and other community courses. She has her kids involved in piano, horseback riding, softball, and other sports. Where does she find the time with a young family that includes an infant?!?!?! This last week, she singlehandedly planned an activity for 12 girls to learn how to make ravioli from scratch! Wonder Woman is her role model, and man, does she fill it!”

This is what her friend Amy LeBaron had to say:
“Rhea does her best at whatever she does, including and especially motherhood. She is caring and appropriately firm. I’ve seen her love her kids in the way she talks to them while also holding expectations.”

Her friend Deanna Haskett had this to say:
“Rhea is always willing to help people with their kids anytime you need her. She’s a great example of motherhood and a great friend to her neighbors. I think she is a great nominee for this and feel that she deserves it.”

Another friend, Alice Bernard, added this:
“Rhea is such a wonderful lady who is always helping and doing things with her own four children who have different levels of learning skills and high energy! She is also helping children in China learn English, and she does that in the middle of the night because of time difference! She is an awesome mom!”

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Dad of the Year Nominations: Father’s Day is around the corner! Nominate your dad for our Dad of the Year issue next month!

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