Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Hair and makeup: Brittney Johnson Makeup
Venue: The Bootleg Howl, Owner Chari C. Davis
When Dorothy Roberts welcomed her eldest daughter into the world, she marveled at the preciousness of life and instantly realized how much her own parents loved her. She also wondered if she’d ever sleep deeply again.
“Becoming a parent can be very daunting …,” says Roberts, owner of Robin’s Nest in the Pass and Roberts Place Café in Pass Christian. “With time and support, you become more confident and can begin to enjoy the beauty of being a mother.”
Now that her daughters, Jessica Danielle Strickland and Lauren Hinton, are 37 and 35 respectively, with children of their own, Roberts can reflect with pride on her parenthood journey. Over time, her relationship with her daughters has evolved into a close friendship.
“There’s a lot of mutual respect we have for each other,” Roberts says. “I look back on times that were difficult for them and for me, and I’m grateful our story didn’t end during those times. Rather, our story with each other continues.”
In writing that story, Roberts benefitted from the example of her own parents, the late Col. Lawrence E. and Lucimarian Roberts. Her family, including sisters Robin and Sally-Ann and brother Lawrence Jr., traveled the world while their dad served in the U.S. Air Force, then they settled in Pass Christian upon his retirement.
As a member of the Greatest Generation, Lucimarian instilled discipline in her children and taught them to set goals and lead lives of service.
As a member of the Greatest Generation, Lucimarian instilled discipline in her children and taught them to set goals and lead lives of service. Roberts recalls that her mom cooked all the meals, which were eaten by candlelight because she thought the warm glow improved the look of the drab base-housing dining room.
Throughout her husband’s career, Lucimarian set up house about 20 times — making each new place the family settled in feel like home.
“My mother was a brilliant woman who could have easily been a CEO of a corporation,” Roberts says. “She found being the CEO of the Roberts family her calling; dad was the CFO. They provided a strong, loving and traditional home life for us.”
Roberts likewise has earned the admiration of her daughters, who praise her work ethic, strength and courage. Hinton points out that her mom worked for the state for 28 years, and rather than taking it easy in retirement, she opened a gift shop and café — showing that goals have no age limit or expiration date.
“It makes me extremely proud to see her living out a dream of hers and to be able to witness the growth of the empire she has created,” Hinton says. “It’s also very special that my kids are able to see what their grandma has created and see that she has become very successful with the hard work and dedication she has put into her establishments.”
Roberts’s daughters also are impressed by her artistic abilities and sense of humor. In addition to being a registered nurse, Hinton helps her mom at the café, where they “keep each other laughing all day long.”
“My mom has many wonderful qualities; one of them is being really funny,” Hinton says. “She will make these hilarious videos and send them to me and my sister. It’s the best!”
Roberts also has a gift for storytelling and an affinity for singing, which she attributes to Lucimarian’s influence. When Strickland visits home from Florida, she looks forward to her mom playing the piano and singing her favorites, including, “Colors of the Wind’ from “Pocahontas.”
“Our relationship is very much treasured,” Strickland says. “She is a great mom and a wonderful ‘DeeDee’(grandma).”
As they navigate motherhood themselves — Hinton with sons Ryan, 14, and Lawrence, 6, and Strickland with daughter Dovie Leigh, 6, and “bonus” children Maddox, 17, and Vaughan, 12 — Roberts’ daughters increasingly appreciate her guidance.
“I’m constantly learning from her, calling her for advice regarding my children, especially raising a teenager,” Hinton says. “My mom, aka ‘DeeDee’ to her grandchildren, is a wonderful grandma. She’s always there for them in every aspect.”
Roberts always told her children how much she loves them, and Strickland now tells her daughter the same thing “multiple times a day.”
“Even when I have to get on my child, I let her know that my love for her will never go away — the same thing mom would tell me,” Strickland says. “It is an incredible feeling now that I have a daughter to instill in her that she can do anything she puts her mind to because she has so many women in our family who have pioneered the way before us.”
The values that Lucimarian so diligently modeled have become the basis of her family’s parenting philosophy. Roberts advises other moms to give their children a firm foundation by teaching them right from wrong, nurturing them, encouraging their empathy toward others and correcting them as needed.
“Let them know how important they are to your family, and love them unconditionally,” she says. “They are going to make mistakes in life, so you want to build a relationship that allows them the ability to come to you in their darkest hour.”
When parenting gets hard, Hinton falls back on her roots and how she was raised — which provides an encouraging push during tough times. Generations of wisdom is contained in many of the family’s favorite sayings, such as “Don’t borrow sorrow from tomorrow,” meaning don’t dwell on the stress of the unknown.
Hinton recalls that her grandma often said, “Everybody got something.”
“Even if you’re dealing with a situation that may be tough in the moment, you’re not the only one — no self-pity, in a sense,” she says, “which is always a clever reminder that, ‘This, too, shall pass,’ another one of my grandma’s sayings.”
Above all, Lucimarian ingrained in her children a deep faith that God loves them and is always with them. She urged them to cultivate their God-given gifts and share them with the world.
“She also taught us to live a humble life; one of her phrases was, ‘When you strut, you stumble,’” Roberts says. “All of those lessons mom taught me, I hope I have passed onto my daughters.”
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, but Roberts makes clear that no elaborate plans are necessary; the best gifts her daughters can give her are their love and esteem.
“I hope my daughters have always known their mother is there for them through thick and thin; we are a resilient family,” she says.
As they contemplate the holiday, the dominant feeling for her daughters is gratitude — for their own children, for the powerful women in their family who paved the way and for a parent who always believed in them.
“I’ll be reflecting on how I’ve been blessed with an incredible mother,” Hinton says, “and I’ll never take for granted the family I’ve been given.”