“Mother’s Day is the day we should let our moms know how much they mean to us,” said Ty Pennington, host of the hit ABC show Extreme Makeover Home Edition and the new show The Revolution. “My mom means everything to me because she’s given everything to me. She gave me her heart and, with it, what it feels like to love and be loved. She gave me her strength to conquer any obstacles life throws my way. And, she gave me the greatest gift of all … her laugh and sense of humor. I truly believe laughter can make everything better, and it’s those family gatherings (the good, bad and ugly) that we look back at and laugh the hardest. After all, we should because, just like my mom, they mean everything to me.”
Ty Pennington loves his mama. And, let’s face it, there’s nothing sweeter than a Southern gentleman whose mother raised him right. But Dr. Yvonne Pennington, a psychologist living and working in East Cobb, didn’t raise just one successful Southern gentleman … she raised two! Her eldest son, Wynn Pennington, lives in metro Atlanta and owns Motovino Wine Company, a wine importer and distributor. According to Yvonne, he’s also a “really great dad” to his daughter Sloan. And, boy, he loves his mama too!
“My mom is the best mom in the mom business,” Wynn said. “She’s a role model. I mean, she’s perfect. She’s very well educated, diligent and just works her butt off but there was also a lot of laughter in our house growing up.”
So, how did Yvonne, who struggles with severe respiratory problems and spent several years as a single mother before remarrying, raise two confident, thriving Southern gentlemen while finishing her own advanced education? “Encouragement, encouragement, encouragement,” Yvonne said. “I gave them freedom to make their own decisions, and once they were free to go play (our rule was first you work, then you play) I wasn’t constantly in their business. I also always tried to find their passions and nurture them even when I couldn’t afford it.”
But, at least with Ty, who once climbed out a classroom window and into another one to pretend he was in that class, it wasn’t always easy. “They’re both really sweet guys,” Yvonne said. “Wynn seemed to almost raise himself and sailed through everything but Ty was a handful. He has ADHD and spent everyday of the second grade in the principal’s office.” Yvonne’s graduate and doctoral work helped her help Ty with his ADHD in a time when medication wasn’t readily available, but it wasn’t necessarily her education that made her “the best mom in the mom business.”
“My mom taught us that everything is open and a possibility and we shouldn’t be afraid of anything,” Wynn said. “I got through three years of college before I went into the wine business and she was okay with that. She saw my passion and always told us it’s okay whatever path you choose. There’s no right or wrong … it’s whatever works for you.”
Dr. Yvonne Pennington is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, registered play therapist and certified Sandplay Therapist who’s worked in the mental health field for 40 years but she’s also much more than that. She’s that quintessentially strong, hardworking Southern woman with a great big heart, a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye. And that, my dears, has been the secret to her motherly success!
*Originally published in the April 2012 issue of Cobb Life Magazine.