The Record Newspapers’ 2009 Mother of the Year
Mother’s Day is a relatively new national holiday but does not dull in comparison to other holidays – because it celebrates the principles and values of the family.
Kelly Hanks Nichols of Bridge City is the loving mother of not one but two sets of twins. Not only does Kelly have four great children, but she now has the honor of being named The Record’s 2009 Mother of the Year.
That news sinks in slowly for most people but the amazing part is that these multiple births took place only 14 months apart. Jerry, a bashful second grader, is the oldest. His sister Grace was born barely three minutes later. Twins William and Kerry were born in the same pattern with only a two-minute time difference. Kelly and her husband Brett said, “They are our strength and our weakness.”
She speaks to her children, loving nicknamed the Twinadoes, with heartfelt kindness and the dedication of a spectacular parent.
Kelly first found out about the impending birth of twins Jerry and Grace during an ultrasound in the emergency room. The nurse bluntly asked if she knew that she was expecting twins and the at that time, the news came to the family as a total shock. Shortly after the birth, she experienced some illness symptoms and her family doctor was able to give her the good news that she would soon be the mother to a second set of twins. According to medical information, this unlikely event carries great odds. It is an 11.3 million to 1 chance of such astounding sets of multiple births. When asked about the possibility of genetic reasons, Kelly stated, “No, twins don’t run in the family. I was in my 30s when I had Jerry and Grace and the doctor’s said that it was an age factor.” Twin pregnancies are actually more common than most people think. It is approximated that every woman has about a 3 percent chance of naturally conceiving and giving birth to a set of twins or higher order multiples (such as triplets or quadruplets). An online site called pregnancy-info.net states that “Your chances of having twins increase as you grow older.” Women produce more hormones that attribute to this type of pregnancy and the odds increase to nearly 5% as the age of 40 is reached. Also, if a woman has already had twins, it is more likely that she will be prone to having another set. Kelly also said, “I always wanted a large family, but did not anticipate two sets of twins.”
Both births went smoothly. Often, twins or other sets of multiples are born premature or with complications ranging from slight to serious. William and Kerry did spend about a month in the hospital, but all children were born in relatively good health. When asked about the appearance of the newborns and who they may favor, dad Brett was noted as saying, “Well, they look like each other.”
Being the mother of four children in such a short period of time gives Kelly a unique perspective on life. As one would expect, Jerry, Grace, William and Kerry’s day to day lives require a vast amount of planning. Kelly mentioned, “You can plan and plan and get things out of the way, but it still might not work. If things get even 15 minutes off, then there are so many other problems.”
Planning was key in a recent family trip to Disneyworld. She related, “It’s not a trip where we can all get in the car and drive to a particular destination. We had to have a lot of businesses that specialize in these things to help us.”
She is a beautiful person and a strong woman who runs her life based on the dedication to her family and her spiritual faith. She has passed these traits on to her exuberant children. When questioned as to one lesson learned from Kelly, Grace piped in, “She always teaches us to pray.” All of the children are students at St. Mary Catholic School and Kelly noted that the faculty, staff and advisors are the children’s saving grace. Unfortunately, the Nichols family was faced with the devastation of Hurricane Ike. However, St. Mary has given the students a caring atmosphere and something to rely on to help them deal with the recovery process. “The children all have a very close relationship and a strong faith and devotion to the rosary,” said Kelly.
William and Kerry both agreed that they have a mother that makes them feel special. They spend time on the family boat, reading books and playing games such as checkers. Kerry said, “My mom is cool because we play checkers.” When subsequently asked, he shook his head to indicate that Kelly never “lets” him win.
Brett and Kelly agree that the twins are their driving force in life.
The family has been appreciative of the closeness that exists in their family structure. Since the massive flooding in Bridge City, the Nichols’ have lived in a trailer provided by FEMA. Brett works diligently on sheetrock and repairs to help get the family back into their home. The children do as much as they can to help the situation. Kelly commented on the varying personality traits of the sets of twins, “Grace and Jerry are big helpers. Grace likes to clean and help mommy a lot and Jerry is a very responsible boy.” She does note that the younger set of twins provide the entertainment factors in the household and keep the family laughing with their clowning around.
The family keeps a tone of lightheartedness and Grace mentioned, “When we’re sad, mom makes funny faces and does funny voices. Sometimes she will count our ribs to make us laugh.” Laughter is a recurring theme that is mentioned by the children and Kelly alike.
The high-spirited brood is proud that they have a funny mother, and they all giggled when one voice among the crowd mentioned that she once burned the cinnamon toast. They all agreed that on that day it should have been called Burn-amon toast.
Kelly holds a great sense of pride when discussing her children’s academic and extracurricular talents. “Kerry wants to grow up to be a priest. William works on everything, especially construction projects, with a complexity and detail oriented manner. Jerry is very athletic and though he has played other sports in the past, he is interested in basketball this year. Grace is the artistic one and she has taken classes from a local person in the artistic community and has achieved many goals in horseback riding.”
This year’s Mother’s Day celebration will be a quiet event in the Nichols household. Kelly only mentioned three things she would enjoy during the weekend. “I would like to relax with some great bubble bath, a new Circle E candle and maybe some nice perfume.”
Grace did mention she would like to give her mother some flowers to mark the occasion. It is notable that carnations have come to represent Mother’s Day as a symbol of a mother’s purity and love for the family. Young Kerry also chimed in that he has worked hard to make a card for his mother in his class at school.
Every family works in different ways, but these twins share so many common interests and act as each other’s strength. Kelly mentioned that the most frustrating part may be that they are all so competitive. It is a difficult task to split one’s time between four children, but Kelly has done an excellent job in giving them each a sense of individuality, an acceptance of their unique life, and a solid base of love and prayer.