The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

May 12, 2014

Like mother, like daughter


Sunday, May 11, 2014 — I know everyone’s grateful for their mother, but for the past eight months I’ve owed my mom something a little more heavy and a little more precious than gratitude.

I don’t think many of you know this, but my mom writes for a newspaper, too. Since I’ve started working at the SNAP, she’s been my guide just as much as B.J. or Ritchie or Charles or Sandy here at the office. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called her at 11 p.m. panicked and trying to figure out what the heck to do with a story. How many times she’s answered, half-awake, and never hung up.

So as Mother’s Day rolled around, I asked her if she would write this column with me. After all the ways she’s helped me this year, it only seemed appropriate that she should help me with this, too. Consider it my tribute to all she’s done and my thanks to every mom who wants to teach her child everything she knows.

Daughter: I never really intended to go into newspaper writing.  I was always the kid pretending to write novels or putting together plays for her cousins to perform. I was the English major, creative writing minor and I still want to write all that fiction stuff, too.

But I’m glad you told me to do some freelancing in college. I’m glad you kept pestering me to look at jobs in reporting. I’m glad you kept at it and you knew a little more about me than I realized.

Because you were right. I did end up liking it.

Mother: In many ways, I see myself in you, but you are also your own unique person. I never took calculus or chemistry, much less aced it like you did in high school. You have and still have so many options for your life. I also know you have the heart of a writer and I understand that yearning. My practical side kicks in at times and I imagine you following higher-paying pursuits. But I’ve always followed my heart — not money.  I see that in you, too.

D: I knew you loved me when you agreed I should take the job farther away from home.

It’s no secret you would have liked me to move closer, but all you said was, “In this job, it’s important to be in an office where you know you’ll like the people.”

I love you back for it.

M: You made the right decision. The staff at The Stanly News & Press have been good for you, and that makes the five-hour drive to visit not quite so long.

D: When I got the job, I’m glad you dug through all those old boxes in the attic to pull out your old newspaper writing textbooks for me, even if some of them do refer to people using typewriters and word processors rather than computers.

M: I wrote my first news story on a manual typewriter. Technology has certainly changed, but good news stories are still good news stories.  Your dad sends his regards to the books he has long wished would find a home away from the attic.

D: You know when you suggested that we go to that press writers conference together in Chapel Hill? I have to admit, I was unexpectedly proud at the thought that as we walked around we could introduce ourselves as mother and daughter.

M: Nobody needs to ask me how I would feel.

D: I will never again complain when you go on and on about the stories you’re working on. (Trust me, there was never a simple, ‘How was work, Mom?’ and ‘Good,’ routine for this family. Not with county commissioners considering wind farms and coastal bird nests being threatened by wild horses.)

Sometimes you just can’t work through this stuff on your own. Sometimes you need somebody to listen to you take a story apart so that you can put it all back together again.

I’m glad you knew I’d need that space, too.

I guess Dad and Faith are just going to have to put up with the both of us rattling on now.

M:  How else would you and I have found out that Currituck and Stanly counties — although separated by hundreds of miles — have many similarities? I don’t think anybody else in the world knows that the two county’s airports are nearly identical when it comes to runway length, number of flights and the percentage of military traffic. The one exception: Currituck has more ultralights.

D: I didn’t realize how brave or resourceful or dedicated you were until I had to start cold calling people for information and figuring out how new tax laws work and taking a few angry phone calls myself.

M: I’m an even-tempered person, but I have to admit, I was ready to smack the woman who told you off because of a photo that didn’t appear in the paper.  

D: You know that time you told me to split up that long story into two? You told me sometimes a story just has too much in it and the two parts have to go separate ways. I took it as symbolic. Because we’re separated, but really we’re just two parts of the same story.

M: You always were a deep thinker, my dear.

D: I love you, Mom.

M:  I’m proud of you, Shannon.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or