By ADAM ARMOUR
Patty Chumblee and her daughter, D.J., look a lot alike.
In particular, the two share a similar, half-moon smile, simultaneously stretched across their faces at almost the exact same width and squinting their eyes nearly the exact same amount. Even the lines on their faces nearly match when the two are grinning.
The younger of the two Tremont residents could do worse than to mirror her mother, who was just named Itawamba County’s Parent of the Year. In fact, it’s likely she couldn’t ask for anything better.
“We have a lot of fun together,” the elder Chumblee said. “We’re together all the time, always doing something … A good parent is someone who’s involved in her children’s lives and tries to develop them in a way that they can grow to be a strong adult and be able to take good care of themselves.”
Fun though it may be, being a parent isn’t easy … at all.
“It’s the toughest job in the world,” Chumblee said, flashing her earnest smile. “You think you’re doing everything right, but you can still mess up. It’s 24/7 the rest of your life. It is a scary thing.”
Chumblee said she shares the credit for any good parenting on her part with with her husband, Darrell. Together, they have reared two daughters: The eldest, Resa, in college and D.J. a senior at Tremont High School.
According to THS Principal Eddie Moore, Chumblee, who has been actively involved in the school’s PTO for years — serving as its leader this year — and founding the school’s booster club several years ago, Chumblee was an easy choice for parent of the year.
“It is hard to pick one parent because there are so many good ones out here. But, there aren’t any better than Mrs. Chumblee when it comes to leadership, organization and doing what needs to be done,” Moore said. “She heads up everything that we need as a school. I just have a lot of confidence in her to get the job done — any job that needs to be done.”
When asked his thoughts on having Itawamba County’s “best parent,” Moore just smiled.
“I’m not surprised. There are a lot of good parents out here,” he said through his grin. “Our parents will pitch in and do whatever we need them to do. There are a lot of good parents on the PTO besides Mrs. Chumblee. Mrs. Chumblee’s just been so good for so long, and I have so much confidence in her in her leadership, that she was an easy choice.”
Chumblee herself, a reluctant recipient to all of the praise, just shook her head and tried to wave it away.
“It wasn’t me,” she said. “I got the plaque, but I didn’t do anything by myself. It’s nothing that I did. I had community support behind everything we’ve been trying to do for years. The only thing I did was organize, really … If you have people who are willing to offer their support, it’s easy to make things happen … There’s a big group of us working together to get things done.”
Moore said THS administration kept Chumblee’s nomination for the award a secret from her. The silence paid off, as, weeks later, Chumblee still seems to be in a state of mild shock.
Although she denies deserving the award, Chumblee was happy to be recognized, even if she’s quick to split the credit. Still, by her own admission, if she’s not working, she’s at school helping out, all because she loves her daughter and wants the best for her.
That’s not to say that her motives aren’t entirely selfless.
“All the hard work is very much worth it,” she said, brandishing that grin again. “Children are blessings. They bring so much joy, happiness and pride into your life. They make you to get up in the morning and say ‘What are we going to do today?’ There’s always someone else you’re thinking about. They make life worth living sometimes.”
She added of her daughter.
“She’s a good kid. It’s just been so much fun all these years. I don’t expect the fun to end.”
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.