Jenny Baldowski sits on her front porch with her two sons, Neal, 16, (left) and Phillip, 15. Mrs. Baldowski has been involved in scouting with her boys from Cub Scouts through Eagle Scouts in addition to various other activities.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
On Mother's Day, Jenny Baldowski's family will recognize one very busy mom.
With two active teenage boys, Baldowski wears many hats, including coach, teacher, cheerleader, dietician, nurse and taxi driver.
Her 16-year-old son Neal is a competitive swimmer, and Phillip, 15, competes at archery tournaments across the country.
That means a lot of traveling. So the term "stay-at-home-mom" just doesn't apply to this Harlem mother.
Both boys have been active in Boy Scouts of America since they were old enough to join and, as a self-proclaimed tomboy, Baldowski has been in the think of the adventure with them as everything from scout master and resident camp program director to crew adviser for their current Venturing Crew.
"God knew what he was doing when he gave me boys," Baldowski said. "I wouldn't have known what to do with a little girl. I have been blessed. We never really thought we'd have these two kids."
After trying for four years and having doctors say Baldwoski and her husband would never have children, their first son was born. But he was born with a rare kidney disease that prevents his one functioning kidney from filtering high levels of acid from his blood.
Phillip was born only 16 months later and had severe asthma and a cleft lip.
Doctors said if the couple didn't move from south Georgia closer to a major hospital, both boys' lives would be in danger, Baldowski said. The couple moved to Harlem to be closer to doctors as well as a job for Baldowski's husband, who is a nuclear engineer at Plant Vogtle.
Baldowski, who retired from nursing to be a mother, planned to continue her education once the boys were in school, but Neal's immune system couldn't handle public school, so home-schooling began.
"We got two kids, and both of them were special kids," Baldowski said. "Yes, they have special needs, but as far as extra work, I wanted to be a mother."
And her boys love having an adventurous mother who shares their interests.
They take annual trips to hike the Appalachian Trail and go white water rafting, biking, repelling and any other adventure they can get into.
"She had a motorcycle accident, and she has pins in her knee," Neal said. "The doctors told her she would never walk again, and she is all out there hanging off the side of a mountain and going white water rafting.
"Usually we get in trouble with Dad because we have the radio turned up too loud. Mom would come in there and turn the thing up."
Baldowski spends a lot of time in the road traveling to Atlanta and Augusta for doctor visits and to and from swim and archery practice and tournaments in addition to Boy Scout events.
"You may not see my husband, but he's always in the background," Baldowski said about her husband, Neal. "Without the support of my family, there is no way I could have done it."
Both Neal Jr. and Phillip have set sights on the 2008 Olympics in their respective sports. After that, Neal plans to study mechanical engineering, and Phillip wants to study vehicle mechanics in hopes of becoming a NASCAR pit crew member after he walks onto the University of Georgia football team, he said.
Baldowski is going through swim coaching school to make sure Neal has a coach on the deck as an unattached swimmer for USA. In fact, she'll be spending Mother's Day watching him swim in the Junio Jaguars meet.
Though Baldowski said she gives the boys plenty of room to grow, she said she wouldn't trade in their experiences together for the world.
"We have been fortunate," she said. "Maybe we don't have as much as other people, but we do have family. We do have love. And we have good times together.
"I just take everyday and thank the Lord for it all."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.