Wendy Goodrich McKenna, 33-year-old mother of five, has been named the 1991 National Mother of Young Children - and she credits mothers everywhere as being her inspiration.
"Every mother has her own special skill and her own techniques of mothering, and that's great," said Sister McKenna, Primary junior chorister in the Farmington 19th Ward, Farmington Utah South Stake. "I think it's wonderful that every woman finds her own niche in life and goes after it. I think we should be inspired and not depressed by the good things other women are doing."Sister McKenna was selected the national young mother of the year at the 56th annual American Mothers, Inc., National Convention April 25-29 in St. Louis, Mo.
She said she enjoys being a mother and fights discouragement by setting priorities. "In my daily evaluating, I realize I can only do so much. I think too often mothers try to do everything. By prioritizing, mothers can work to do the most important things and then not feel guilty if they don't do it all."
She married Richard Lyn McKenna in the Salt Lake Temple on Dec. 29, 1978, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in home economics education from Utah State University in 1979.
Brother McKenna also graduated from Utah State University and received his MBA from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked in San Francisco for several years. The family moved back to Utah in 1984, where he worked as a regional manager for Greyhound Lines until a recent job change as manager of transportation for the Church.
The family, which settled in Farmington, consists of five children: Amanda, 11, Camilla, 9, Mark, 7, Brian, 4, and Kyle, 2.
Sister McKenna, the fourth of 12 children born to Glenn B. and Marilyn Beesley Goodrich, grew up in Bountiful, Utah, with a love for the gospel and family outings.
"I really enjoyed being part of a large family. My dad and mother served a great deal in the Church. My dad has a special talent of making every person feel like the most special person on earth. I always felt that. My mother was very compassionate and has always been very supportive of all my endeavors."
Camping, having enough brothers and sisters to form a baseball team and singing as a family are just some of the pleasant memories Sister McKenna has etched in her mind from childhood days.
"My family was very musical. My dad sang and played the guitar and my mother played the accordion. We sang a lot as a family. We were always taking some kind of lessons."
Sister McKenna carried on her musical interests through high school and college and then took up playing the harp when she was 25. She played in the Oakland (Calif.) Temple pageant as well as in a symphony in Oakland. Now she mostly plays the harp for Church meetings and weddings, and with her daughters, carrying on the tradition of music in her own family.
"One of our biggest joys is to play with my 85-year-old grandpa who performs on the flute," Sister McKenna said. "He is the biggest musical influence in my life. He has a great background in music. Ebenezer Beesley, a well-known Church composer, was his grandfather.
"Music is a good way to build unity and have something we are all striving together to do," she added. "It is also a great opportunity for service."
Gospel learning in the home is also a help to the McKenna family, she explained. "Being a member of the Church provides all the guidelines for building families such as family prayer, scripture study and family home evening. We struggle and occasionally get off track, but we jump back into it and keep going. It's a daily goal."
For a mother to strengthen her children, she needs to be on top of things herself, Sister McKenna commented. "She needs to have confidence, good health and be immersed in the scriptures for her children to have that desire."
Sister McKenna said she strives for self-improvement through harp lessons and spending time reading, writing in her journal or dabbling in a few outside interests such as sports.
An advocate of education and good literature in the home, she is involved in school and the PTA. The family limits television viewing, which has sparked interest in reading, art projects and cooking for the children.
An interest in emergency and spiritual preparedness also keeps Sister McKenna busy.
But above all she enjoys spending time with her family.
"My favorite thing to do, right after school when the children come home, is to have a snack and talk session before they start their jobs, practicing and play time. The children look forward to that.
"I feel grateful I don't have to work, but I also feel strongly in devoting time to children. Even though I'm home all day, I make a strong commitment to teach and make sure it gets done.
"Children don't learn our strong moral and spiritual principles by osmosis. It needs to be a deliberate and daily effort for our children to learn the things we want them to learn and it is a challenge for me. Each day I try and ask myself if I have accomplished this. If not, I go into their room and talk with them before they go to sleep."
Sitting down together for meals has been a strength for the McKenna family as well, she said. "It's important for communicating and to find out what everyone has been thinking during the day to contribute to family conversation."
The family grows together, she said, not only through music, but also in other activities. "We love to go camping. That is one of our favorite family activities, as is visiting grandma's house." - Sheridan R. Sheffield