Mothers, “Enjoy each stage and don’t wish it away”

Mothers, “Enjoy each stage and don’t wish it away”Christina MacGregor

News Review Staff Writer

In her 62 years, Penny Belt has learned many important life lessons. When it comes to her family, she feels that quality family time is the key to success. For her children growing up that included reading scriptures together, going to church together, praying together, eating family meals together, and supporting each other in school and extracurricular endeavors.

“Motherhood is a very valuable job. In today’s world, sometimes people put more importance on the outside jobs than they do on raising kids. Raising your children is the most important thing that you can do. The other stuff is nice, but the children are the most important.”

Penny and David Belt were married 1984, and had their daughter Sylvia in 1985 while they were finishing up college. They graduated from Brigham Young University, Utah; David in electrical engineering and Penny in math education for the secondary level. Soon after, in 1986, the couple moved to Ridgecrest where David got a job on the China Lake Naval Base.

At that point the Belts decided to set down roots in Ridgecrest and they have been here ever since. Their family of three grew quickly, until it became a family of eight. Over the span of 20 years the Belts had six children, named Sylvia, David, Samuel, Dallin, Karen, and Deanna respectfully. Now their youngest child, Deanna, is a senior in high school and set to graduate this year. This will official make the Belts empty nesters.

Penny explained her mixed feelings about that.

“Sometimes it’s hard to let go, and let your children make their own decisions.” said Penny. “You teach your children, and then they need to make their own decisions. But it is still hard to let them go.”

Besides being a mom, a typical day for Penny Belt includes teaching seminary church classes for high school youth, as well as substitute teaching for the school district. She then goes home to prepare a lesson for the next day’s seminary lesson. Other weekly events include going to orchestra practice and attending her daughters’ school events whenever they occur. Also, Penny plays the piano on a volunteer basis for the middle school and high school choirs. She practices with them weekly to better help the students prepare for their performances.

Accompanying the choirs on the piano is second nature to her at this point. Penny has been playing the piano since she was five years old, and the organ since she was 16. With her many years of piano-playing/accompanist experience, Penny has been able to bless the Ridgecrest community in a meaningful and impactful way.

In addition to volunteering in her church and school district as an accompanist, Penny is also currently serving on the board for the Desert Community Orchestra.

Her family has a long history with the group. David Belt has played the bassoon in the orchestra since the family’s arrival in Ridgecrest, but Penny has only been in the orchestra for 10-12 years (she estimates). She plays the piano for the group, and does percussion and synthesizer sounds as well. Her piano can be heard from anywhere in the audience during the orchestra group’s performances, and the way that she plays her part adds a little extra sparkle to the musical numbers that the orchestra performs.

The Belt parents weren’t the only ones in their family to bless the Ridgecrest community with their musical talents. They encouraged their children to perform as well. Their children sang in solo and ensemble competitions thoughout the state, with Penny accompanying them along the way, as well as countless other Ridgecrest youth. Some of her children have also performed in the high school choirs, band, and the community orchestra. Between the Belt children, they play the flute, violin, cello, oboe, and piano.

Deanna is set to perform as a young artist soloist in the next orchestra performance and the family is thrilled about the honor.

The Belt children have also performed with RMES (Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society), CLOTA (Community Light Opera and Theater Association), and in a 4th of July Children’s Program that Penny has helped run for many years.

Penny looks back fondly at all of her memories of her children’s musical performances. She also looks back fondly at other family holidays and traditions. One includes a Christmas tradition of making individual mini pizzas while listening to Manheim Steamroller. She commented that the tradition has made it into her grandkid’s generation as well, even if the music selection has varied a bit.

“We put out the pizza toppings, and everyone rolls out their own dough and makes their own pizza. We always have a lot of fun with that tradition.”

Penny also has sweet memories of favorite family vacations, and is grateful for how many things they were able to do as a family while her children were growing up.

“We often went to Utah to see family. We also went to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and other places along the way,” explained Penny. “Bryce Canyon is a favorite. We have gone there many times; we would go camping and hiking there. We also went on a history tour of places important to our church in 2002. That was a big one that we saved up for.”

Now Penny and her husband David spend most of their travel time visiting their children and spouses, as well as their 18 grandchildren, ages two months old- 15 years old.

“We just went to Montana for Spring Break to see baby Joshua. It was really sweet,” mused Penny.

Penny is grateful to have led such a wonderful life, rich with blessings. She likes to ponder life as she holds her grandchildren.

“The different stages they go through are fun. To see them start Kindergarten, and also just getting out in the world ... it just all goes by so fast,” mused Penny.

“It’s a joy to watch children grow, and develop their talents and personalities and attributes. It’s fun to hold a new baby, and just think about their potential. You realize that even the children who have handicaps are still wonderful, special human beings, and not ‘less’ than any of others. Everyone is different, and that is okay.”

Penny’s advice for young mothers is simple.

“Enjoy each stage, and don’t wish it away. Enjoy each stage while it is happening. You’ll hear, ‘I’ll be so glad when they are older,’ or even the opposite. When they are older, you’ll hear, ‘Oh, I wish they were little again.’ Just enjoy each stage as it happens.”

Laura Austin Photo: Deanna Belt, the youngest of Penny Belt’s six children is the last one still in the nest. She will graduate from Burroughs High this spring.

Story First Published: 2022-05-06