As a child, I associated Mother’s Day with paper flowers and popsicle-stick bird feeders.
As a teenager, I found just enough time to drop a fancy card or grocery store bouquet on the kitchen counter before rushing out to carry on with cooler things.
For the better part of my life, I considered Mother’s Day to be little more than a mark on the calendar reminding me to be nice to my mom for a solid afternoon.
I will be 30 this year, and it’s only now I’ve come to appreciate the importance of this holiday.
Mothers are incredible creatures. At any given time, there are millions of them wandering this world wrapped up in some selfless duty in hopes of bettering the life of another.
Many of them are never granted proper recognition.
Even I am guilty for letting a few "thank yous" go unsaid over the years. So this one’s for you, Mom. You truly are remarkable and there are a few things you’ve done for me I need to express my gratitude for.
For believing a good song played loudly on repeat can mend a broken heart
Growing up, some girls worked through their adolescent troubles with diary entries and "Dawson’s Creek" marathons.
You taught me there is no trouble a Fleetwood Mac song can’t shake.
For the lips I thought I’d never grow into
It’s been a long time coming, but I have finally adapted to the facial features you’ve bestowed upon me.
Props to you, Mom, for rocking the look long before Kylie Jenner.
For my sense of strength
In witnessing your ability to rise above, I have inherited the nature of doing the same.
For a steadfast work ethic
While I never went without, you never allowed me to accept the things I had not worked for.
That sense of pride in my performance and the desire to rightly earn what I am given has always stuck with me.
For instilling in me the importance of showing up
You once told me the only thing harder than showing up is not showing up, and you were right.
Avoiding my troubles never kept them at bay; it only prolonged the inevitable. The only real way to conquer our fears is to face them.
For teaching me five true friends are worth more than 20 faux
You warned me my high school popularity wouldn’t be worth a damn as an adult. I will always believe in quality over quantity.
For encouraging me to enjoy literature
My love of reading started with you and has since led me to an endless world of imagination and intellect.
For giving me free range to screw it all up
I was raised with the notion that how many times we fall isn’t nearly as important as how many times we are able to pick ourselves up.
For being proud our offbeat traditions
I’ve never been disappointed we spend our Christmas mornings on the couch eating chili; I like that our family is small and unique and unlike any others I’ve known.
For your unwavering selflessness
You have put me first all my life, and you have spent years placing my happiness before your own.
I may never be able to fully understand or repay you for that, but I’m willing to spend the rest of my years trying.
For garage sales on Saturday afternoons
I know you feel guilty for never introducing me to church.
Early Saturday mornings in your old pickup with the windows rolled down and the newspaper in my lap has always been my religion. I’m grateful for that.
For teaching me to drive stick
I won’t tell you it was an experience I’d consider reliving, but it was memorable and ultimately necessary.
For my favorite flannel
With its three missing buttons and paint-stained sleeves, it is somehow warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
It is my favorite piece of clothing, and after countless washes, it still somehow smells like you.
For always believing in me
Every time I’ve run out of hope or lost faith in a senseless world, you’ve been the reassurance I needed to push forward.
For never making me afraid to tell the truth
Being honest is not often easy, but it is always honorable. You taught me the value of telling the truth and the consequences of masking it.
For the real meaning of beauty
You never did teach me how to apply lipstick or curl my hair, but you taught me the best way to watch a sunset and how to plant flowers that can survive a storm.
You taught me how to feel music and how to love. You showed me a beauty of the greatest capacity.
For trusting me to try new things
I know sometimes my big dreams seem crazy and I don’t always follow through with one before engulfing myself in the next.
You’ve always supported my wondrous nature and allowed me to believe outlandish dreams are far better than none.
For my very first phone line
At a time when 8-year-olds are given smart phones, I hold fast to the memory of the first landline that was all my own.
For my eighth grade formal dress
Even though we couldn’t afford it, you told me what mattered most was I felt beautiful in it. I did, and I will never forget that night or that dress.
For teaching me the importance of education
You never let your lack of scholastic opportunities deter me from exploring my own.
You weren’t able to finish high school, but you still made sure to put me through college.
If knowledge is power, then it is you who has made me powerful.
For being unapologetically authentic
You’ve never been like other moms. You never played dress up or liked shopping for shoes, and you’ve always preferred Home Depot to the salon. I
used to watch you in crowded rooms of other mothers and know you were different. What I hadn’t known was that what made you different is exactly what makes you special.
For embracing my creativity
I may never be a painter, a novelist or sculptor, but that has never stopped you from convincing me I am capable of giving it my best effort.
You are my first fan, my strongest supporter and my most adamant advocate.
For helping me realize my blessings
It’s easy to get caught up in being bitter. Too often, I have been fooled into believing this world owed me something, but you’ve always known better.
From you, I’ve learned the detriment of wasting my energy on being angry at what I lack and the importance of being grateful for what I have.
For taking on both roles and making it look easy
Thank you for all the monsters you scared away and every nightlight you left on; for every bike wheel you had to grease and every flat tire you came to fix; for moving me into my first dorm room and out of my last five apartments; and for each time you paid a ticket and bailed me out of trouble.
I need you to know I’ve never wished for him. You’ve always been enough of a mother to fill any void left behind by an absent father.
For having me
It may sound redundant, but this is a thank you simply for lending me your heartbeat those nine months.
I think we both know that as a teenage runaway running low on money and luck, you could have made other choices.
Thank you for believing giving me life would enhance your own.
For the sacrifices that appeared to go unnoticed
They say it’s the little things that matter most, and through the years, we learn that’s true.
Thank you for all those "little things" I never took the time to give you credit for.
For being my best friend
This has not always been an easy role to fill. Friendships of the best kind aren’t simple; they’re messy and emotional and filled with lessons that keep you growing.
Thank you for taking on the position and for being my lifelong best friend.
For your constant forgiveness
My quick tongue and "won’t back down" attitude has gotten me into some tough situations, but you’ve never denied me the opportunity to be forgiven and, most importantly, to forgive myself.
For loving me just as I am
I am strong enough to admit I am a bit overwhelming. I am opinionated, challenging and compulsive at times.
You accept my flaws and have encouraged me to accept them. You taught me to strive for greatness, not perfection.
This has granted me the confidence a woman in our society needs to succeed.
For being stronger than I thought possible
Your independence has always scared me a bit. We live in a sad and screwed up world where bad things can happen.
At times, I feel so filled with hate or helplessness, but you are not.
I want to look at the world that way. I want to acknowledge, not succumb to, the world's weaknesses and to celebrate each day as a new beginning of something beautiful. That must be the "you" in me.
Thank you, Mom, for everything. You are the greatest part of who I am and the leading force in who I hope to become.
Happy Mother’s Day.