With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, we are getting in the mood to celebrate Mom! So, we turned to five Memphis moms — and their kiddos (of all ages) — to compare notes on their best motherly advice, their favorite shared traditions and why they inspire each other. It’s clear to see that the mother-child relationship changes both parties in profound, moving and sometimes funny ways. Enjoy, and Happy Mother’s Day!

5 Memphis Mothers & Their Children Share Memories, Inspiration & Advice

Chantal Drake & Peyton

Chantal Drake (left) & her son, Peyton (right)

Mother: Chantal Drake, Director of Communications, Dixon Gallery and Gardens
Son: Peyton (11)

What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Chantal: No matter what the situation is, my mom’s response 90% of the time is, “Everything will work out,” and it usually does. It helps me not focus on the problem and to realize that once the moment has passed, no matter what the outcome, everything will be fine.

Peyton: To try new things — she says I won’t know that I don’t like it unless I try it. And sometimes I like it when I didn’t think I would.

Share a fun memory or surprising fact about your mom that you cherish.

Peyton: We made sushi for my birthday one year. That was fun.

Chantal: “Fun” wouldn’t be the word I would use, but it was a great experience — I try to find new ways for us to spend time together that isn’t just seeing the latest Marvel movie, now that he’s getting older. For the last few years, Peyton and I have attended Symphony in the Gardens at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens on Mother’s Day weekend. I actually put him to work, since I am technically working the event. But he loves it, and this year won’t be any different. It’s nice to see all of the moms and their families enjoying each other in the gardens, and it’s nice for us to spend time together helping others enjoy their Mother’s Day as well.

Share a special tradition that you enjoy together.

Chantal: We aren’t from Memphis, and we don’t have family here, so even though we are never in town for the holidays, decorating the tree together is a must. Holidays are a special time, and we enjoy traveling to be around family very much, but this allows us to do something that is a special tradition for our home during the season.

How does your mother or your son inspire you?

Chantal: Peyton asks great questions and is an avid reader. He inspires me to continue to learn and to always be curious.

Peyton: Mom inspires me in my work ethic. She makes me work harder every day to become a great adult.

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What has your son or your mom taught you?

Chantal: Patience and compassion — you need both to be a mom, but I think everybody could use a lesson in compassion and patience these days.

Peyton: How to have a good attitude, to be aware of my surroundings and overall be a good person.

Jacquelyn Sappenfield, Jessica Nolan & Mona Sappenfield

From left to right: Jacquelyn Sappenfield, Jessica Nolan & Mona Sappenfield

Mother: Mona Sappenfield, esthetician, CEO and founder of Mona Esthetics
Daughters: Jessica Nolan (center), digital supervisor, & Jacquelyn Sappenfield (left), kitchen & bath designer

What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Jessica: There is a plan for each of us, and that plan doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, but you have to trust in it.

Jacquelyn: A little makeup and a nice outfit can turn a bad day into a good day.

Share a surprising or funny memory or fact about each other that you cherish.

Mona: Jessica and Jacquelyn nicknamed me “MoFro” due to my natural and frizzy hair. I did not know my nickname was in their phones and email instead of Mom or Mona until a wedding vendor told me last year that they had a good office laugh when they realized with all the wedding correspondence that I was “MoFro” — must have been going on for at least 20 years!

Jacquelyn: There has been more than one occasion when my mom has misidentified an animal, so we always joke about getting her animal flash cards every time a holiday comes around.

How has your mother (or daughters) inspired you or what have they taught you?

Mona: When in third grade, Jacquelyn won a “wishing ball” in a carnival cake walk, and immediately wished that “Mommy was as nice all the time as she was while on vacation.” I learn from them everyday about myself and how much I really do need to relax with them. They have given me and taught me no greater love.

Jessica: Her entrepreneurial spirit is extremely inspiring. She’s run her own business for more than 30 years while still finding the time to raise two daughters. It wasn’t always easy because there were some things she had to miss, but now that I’m older I could not respect her more for making her own way.

Jacquelyn: She’s always thinking of what’s next, which inspires me to keep dreaming, expanding and seeking new opportunities, knowledge and relationships as I grow.

Abby Howell & Amy D. Howell

Abby Howell (left) & Amy D. Howell (right)

Mother: Amy D. Howell, owner & founder, Howell Marketing Strategies, LLC
Daughter: Abby Howell, high school senior at SBA, attending University of Memphis in the fall

What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Amy: Be kind to others, because you never know what burdens they carry.

Share a surprising or funny memory or fact about each other that you cherish.

Amy: Abby was always ready to go anywhere, and as a toddler, if she heard us discussing going somewhere, she would get her shoes on and tell our dog Harley “Bye, Harley,” and she was ready to go. We laugh, because she is still the same way — always doing something, going places and living her life – her way! And as soon as she could drive, it seemed like she was never home. Abby doesn’t let any grass grow under her feet!

Abby: My mom once loaded me and a friend up in her car, and we did a road tour of Texas, where she’s from, and saw San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Hill Country and Gruene Hall, where I won a hula hoop contest to country music.

How does she inspire you?

Amy: Abby inspires me constantly because she is fiercely determined, driven and can think for herself, yet she is also one of the kindest and most compassionate people. She is always thoughtful of others and is a defender and protector with a kind heart. I have seen her kindness to others many times, and that is something our world needs more of.

Abby: My mom has inspired me to be outspoken and think for myself. Don’t be afraid to say something if you need to or want to.

What has she taught you?

Amy: Abby has taught me that patience is an important part of parenting. Having strong-willed children requires patience and understanding. That is something that can help you through difficult times.

Abby: My mom has taught me to be independent and to actually have goals and pursue them.

Devon N. Thompson & Jaxen Thompson

Devon N. Thompson (left) and daughter Jaxen (right), a.k.a. “Jax”

Mother: Devon N. Thompson, administrative assistant 
Daughter: Jaxen (6)

What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

Devon: My mother’s best advice is always enjoy life, and live each day as if it were your last!

Jax: Mommy says be kind to others!

Share a surprising or funny memory or fact about each other that you cherish.

Devon: Funny moments with Jax are our trips to the dentist! She had a tooth pulled on Monday, and the doctor came in and asked Jax how she was doing, and my sweet girl in her most dramatic voice ever while laying on her back waving her arms yells “I’m just trying to stay calm!

Jax: Mommy is funny when she spritzes me with water in the mornings to wake me up, she sings and cheers too … Mommy can’t sing, but she tries!

Share a special tradition that you enjoy together.

Devon: Our special tradition together is weekend waffles. On Saturday mornings Jax helps me make waffles, and she takes so much pride in her contributions!

Jax: I get to put all the fun stuff on them, like candy and chocolate syrup.

How does she inspire you?

Devon: Jax inspires me to be the best for her. In her eyes, Mommy can do no wrong, and I work very hard to live up to it. In the words of Jax, “Game face on, Mommy.”

What has your mom taught you?

Jax: Mommy teaches me to always help my friends; I might need help from them one day. One time my friend couldn’t talk English yet, so I would help her with her work and show her stuff. I’m a big girl, you know!

Susan Guess & Heather Nordtvedt

Susan Guess (left) & Heather Nordtvedt (right)

Mother: Susan Guess, MD assistant, FedEx Express
Daughter: Heather Nordtvedt, marketing manager, Saddle Creek

Share a memory or fact about each other that you cherish.

Heather: I’m 31 years old and have been planning community events, fundraisers, etc., for nearly a decade. My mom attends every single event I’m a part of, whether it’s an event I’m hosting at work or something I’m involved in as a volunteer. Seriously, she has never missed one of my events! Beyond attending, if the event benefits a nonprofit, she’s sure to make a donation. It means the world to me.

Susan: When Heather was about 18 months old, we went to Sarasota, FL, to visit with relatives, and she was given her nickname “Heather Bug” by an uncle, and we still call her that to this day.

Share a special tradition that you enjoy together.

Heather: My mom is one of my very best friends, so we’ve got lots of special traditions and shared interests – talking on the phone constantly (phone calls or texts), going out to eat as a family on the weekends (almost always Mexican food), shopping trips after getting our hair cut together, our mutual love of Christmas movies, all our fun trips to Panama City Beach over the years – I could go on and on!

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How has she inspired you or what has she taught you?

Heather: My mom inspires me to work hard for the things I want in life. I definitely inherited her strong work ethic. I’ve learned to be a strong, compassionate, selfless woman. My parents have been married for 40 years and watching their amazing bond and the way they take care of each other has taught me to be a loving, supportive wife to my husband, Matt. My mom has also taught my little sister Hannah and I to be true to ourselves and to speak up whenever something just isn’t right. We’ve often discussed how graceful our mom is and how much we admire the way she carries herself in difficult situations.

Susan: That all of the love and support that I have given her in her lifetime has paid off because she has turned out to be a very special and successful young woman who I am very proud to call my daughter.

Now, make sure to hug your mama this Sunday for Mother’s Day and tell her why she inspires you!


Guess what? We launched a brand-new podcast called “Southern Voices.” Take a listen to our very first episode, which, in honor of Mother’s Day, is all about motherhood. Click here!