How can you convey to the reader that a character is a kind and dedicated mother? One option would be to include scenes where she's actively caring for her children. Or, you could have a scene like this, from Carl Hiaasen's Newbery Honor book Hoot.
"His mom sent him off to military school," Roy explained, "and now she doesn't want him back. She said so herself..."
Roy's mother cocked her head, as if she wasn't sure that she'd heard him correctly. "His mom doesn't want him?"
Roy saw something flash in her eyes. He wasn't certain if it was sorrow or anger -- or both.
"She doesn't want him?" his mother repeated.
Roy nodded somberly.
"Oh, my," she said.
The words came out so softly that Roy was startled. He heard pain in his mother's voice.
I like how this passage gives us, in a few short lines of dialogue, a rich and poignant picture of Roy's mother. We know from this exchange that she's sensitive and feels strongly about maternal obligation. We also see that even though she's capable of strong feelings, she's more likely to keep the feelings under control than yell and scream. Somehow, I find this passage more compelling than a straightforward one where she's simply seen caring for her kids.
A good reminder that a character's reaction to news or events can tell the reader quite a bit about the character. What do you think?