What makes your mom the coolest?

Celebrate Mother’s Day with endearing essays, straight from the heart.

Mylena Silva, age 11, types away on a laptop in the children's room. — Courtesy Edgartown library

Island school kids from first through eighth grade will soon be submitting their essays for the 10th annual Mother’s Day essay contest, made possible by the Edgartown Board of Trade and the Edgartown Public Library.

The prompt for the contest is simple: What makes your mom the absolute coolest mom on the Island? According to Julia Celeste Tarka, owner of Rosewater Market and Edgartown Board of Trade member, the content of some of the essays would serve as a heartwarming gift for any mom. “The things that children take the time to call out about their moms are so great, whether it’s a favorite meal she cooks for them, or how she takes care of them when they skin their knee,” Celeste Tarka said. 

She was first introduced to the essay contest by Susan Mercier, who used to run Edgartown Books. Mercier administered the contest for many years, but has since passed the torch largely to Edgartown children’s librarian, Elyce Retmier. 

When Celeste Tarka opened Rosewater in 2015, the establishment served as a home for the contest ceremony, “which is really just a wonderful celebration of Mother’s Day,” she said.

She explained that the pandemic shook things up a little for the competition, but Jane Seagrave of the Vineyard Gazette would conventionally pick the winning essays, and each winner would read their writing aloud at the Harbor View during brunch, 

Celeste Tarka said the prizes for the champions go to the subjects of the essays — the best moms, and they’re always filled with great gifts. “Edgartown businesses have always sponsored the really awesome swag bags for moms, and there’s some really great stuff,” she said. “Last year there was a ‘phenomenal mom’ hat, a fresh bouquet of flowers, and usually the bag it’s in is a really nice canvas or sailcloth bag.” There’s also a chance to win gift certificates to Island businesses, and all sorts of other goodies.

Even during COVID, Celeste Tarka added, the board has sponsored drop-off bags to keep the tradition going. 

Retmier said she and Celeste Tarka already work together through some of the collaborative programs between the library and the board of trade, like some reading programs and story walks. “They have just been a huge supporter of the library,” Retmier said. “Julia asked me if I would be interested in taking over the essay contest. I kind of went back and forth thinking about how it could all be tied into more of a library thing.”

Folks associated with the library revamped the poster, reworked the submission process, and are planning on putting together a small committee with a friend of the library and a trustee. This year, kids will be able to submit their essays online, or drop them off in print at the library. According to Retmier, the ceremony at the Harbor View where the winners would read their essays will now be held at the library during its annual open house, and will be open to all participants who wish to read their work. 

Retmier noted that the event corresponds with Pink and Green Weekend in Edgartown, and the library always has fun activities and their open house around this time of year. “We always do an open house at the library that weekend, then we are going to have a flower arranging presentation for adults, and some tissue paper flower making for kids,” Retmier said. “We thought it would be cool to invite all the participants to read their essays out loud, too.” 

Celeste Tarka said she enjoys the essay contest because it offers kids a chance to give a genuinely love-filled gift to their mom for Mother’s Day in the form of an essay that’s straight from the heart. “It’s almost like a nomination for best mom,” she said. “There’s some really cool stuff in the prize bag, and just to hear what your kids love most about you as a mom, that itself is a wonderful gift.”

The Edgartown library open house and essay reading takes place on Saturday, May 7, at 11:30 am. Winning moms will be able to pick up their swag bags at the library. The deadline to enter is May 2, by 4 pm. Winners are chosen in three separate age categories.