Kristine Robinson began mothering as a girl, raising monkeys on the island of Borneo in Indonesia and helping people at a medical clinic for poor villagers that her mom ran from their home.
Robinson followed in her mother’s footsteps and is now a nurse at Community Regional Medical Center. While working in the neonatal intensive care unit on Tuesday morning, she was surprised to be named the “2015 Fresno County Mother of the Year.”
Robinson received the honor from the Fresno County Women’s Chamber of Commerce and was chosen over six other nominees. Robinson and her husband live in Tarpey Village between Fresno and Clovis and have five children — three boys and two girls — ages 11 to 19. One son has autism, and Robinson also cares for her quadriplegic brother-in-law, who was injured in a diving accident.
Robinson was humble about receiving her award. “I was completely surprised and overwhelmed. I kept thinking, ‘There are so many other moms that deserve this way more than me.’ ”
As a neonatal nurse, Robinson cares for babies born as light as a pound who fit into the palm of a hand and can’t yet open their eyes. Aaron and Amy Snell, parents of one of Robinson’s smallest patients, were among many who sung Robinson’s praises in nomination letters, calling her a “humble servant of anyone brought before her, always looking to the interests of others above her own.”
The Snells said Robinson cares for their daughter as if the baby were hers and allows them to stay close to their child in the hospital.
Robinson’s passion for nursing began in her mother’s clinic in Indonesia. From the age of 10, she was doing things like administering medicine, cleaning wounds and teaching mothers about proper child care. She recalled one mother who lost two babies to malnutrition because she fed the infants things like rice water instead of milk as a result of cultural beliefs. After the mother learned the value of nutrition, her third baby survived.
Of working with babies and parents, Robinson said, “I have the best job in the world.”
“Her encouraging, upbeat and positive attitude is something to behold,” wrote Robinson’s mother, Elizabeth Fields Long, in a nomination letter, adding that her daughter is a pastor’s wife who is able to “mother” people of all ages.
Robinson’s husband, Wade, pastor at Foundation Baptist Church in Clovis, said, “She is the kind of person who treats the homeless man on the streets just the same as someone in a high-rise overlooking the city.”
She’s also a member of a number of motherly groups, including Moms in Prayer, Tarpey Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Club and Joni and Friends, a ministry that helps people with disabilities.
Robinson offered advice for other mothers with a child who has autism. “It’s really easy when you have a child with autism to kind of withdraw because it’s just hard to be with people for whatever reason, so definitely put people around you.”
Two of her favorite mottos: “In acceptance lies peace” and “Life is hard but God is good.”
“Instead of fighting what you are going through, to accept it and realize it can end up being something you learn from and grow from — it’s really helped me a lot,” she said. “All of us in life have things that are rough.”
Her eldest son, Luke, said of his mom: “She is my role model, my warmth on a cold day, my back scratcher, my bedtime singer, my provider, my light in the dark, my one and only mother.”
Robinson said she does a lot of praying for her children and always remembers that her goal is to help them grow to become self-sufficient adults. Of her own mother, Robinson said, “I learned from her how to love people and how to keep peace.”
Addressing all mothers, Robinson said, “Love your kids and work in your strengths. Not all of us are the same as moms, but we all have something we can give.”