May 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM ET
As Mother's Day approaches, TODAY Moms is celebrating Mom Heroes: Those unsung champions who make the world go 'round. Check back here tomorrow for the first of our Mom Hero contest winners. Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Mara Shiavocampo, who recently had her first child, reflects on one of her mom heroes.
Seven years ago, in the middle of my bachelorette party, my best friend told me would have to leave. She explained that she had to go home to breast-feed her new baby, but that she would be back soon.
It just happened to be rush hour on a Friday in Los Angeles, in other words, the ninth ring of traffic hell. But sure enough, a few hours later she was back to celebrate with me.
That story makes two things clear: Apryl Owens is a great friend. But Apryl Owens is an even better mother.
There are two things I admire most about Apryl. First, when it comes to parenting, she has the patience of Job. At times when most of us moms would be reduced to undignified yelling, Apryl stays calm and collected, firmly saying things like "I don't like what you're doing right now," to snap her daughter back into line. She speaks to her child with more respect than most of us speak to other adults, yet clearly sets boundaries and expectations without breaking a sweat.
The other thing I love about Apryl is that her child is totally free to be herself. If it's not harmful, it's OK with Apryl. Mismatching shoes? No problem. Striped shirt and plaid pants? Go for it. Ten different hair bows? Let's do it. As a result, her daughter is one of the sweetest, most well-behaved and expressive little girls.
It's often said that a tree is known by its fruit. That's certainly true of Apryl.
Do you know a great mom? Tell her you appreciate her with a cute e-card.
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