My mom was always "the bad guy." Ask my dad, and he'll tell you.
Every time I wanted something, I would go to my dad first, and he would always tell me, "Go ask Mom." I hated this.
I would drag my feet and go ask her, already knowing the answer would be no.
My mom hated sleepovers, and she didn't like us going out on school nights.
She was a Catholic school teacher, so I could never get away with not doing homework or staying home sick from school.
My mom was tough, but I never really realized how tough she was until I got a little older.
When I was in the sixth grade, my dad had a massive heart attack at home and stopped breathing on our living room floor.
My mom witnessed the entire thing. She saw my dad stand up, collapse, have a seizure and stop breathing. She was steps away from giving him CPR when two police officers arrived and saved his life.
The next day, when my mom came home to us three kids, my dad still wasn't awake.
My mom didn't sugar coat anything with us; she told us she wasn't sure if he would be okay, but we would make it. She didn't cry in front of us. She hugged us and told us she loved us; she was amazing.
Fast-forward seven years to when I was leaving home for college. I moved five hours away from home, and I hated it.
I would call my parents crying every single night. My mom came out to visit just a few weeks into school, and I sobbed when she had to leave.
I was yelling, "Please, take me with you," and she kept up her front and told me I was where I needed to be.
Years later, she told me how she would break down after talking to me, but I never knew because she was so strong in front of me.
She held me together during the darkest of times that year, and never once did I know how deeply her heart was breaking.
A few years later, my grandfather had surgery, and my grandmother broke her foot in the same few days. My mother dropped everything she could to help them. She barely slept; she would leave school and go right over to help them.
She stayed at their house overnight to take care of them, all while getting things ready for me to come home from college, preparing for the upcoming holidays and going to work each day with a smile on her face to teach her 30 second graders.
She was amazing during that time, and none of us ever stopped to ask how she was. To us, she seemed to be handling it all just fine.
Now that I am older, I know that was one of the most difficult times of her life because she has let me in on her secret.
She's great at holding things together and can be tough in times of trial, but when she's alone and all is said and done, she will have her moment to break down by herself.
I have never been like that. During the tough moments (and even the not-so-awful moments), I wear my heart on my sleeve.
I break down easily, and I am not the best person to keep it together. However, now that I am getting older, I go to my mom for advice, and I have been learning so much from her.
I am a little over a year away from being a wife to a man who is getting into a pretty scary career, and I am having a tough time thinking about it all.
Despite my worries, I keep all the lessons my mom has ever taught me in my head.
"You are stronger than you think," she always tells me. "You will be able to handle everything; you'll be surprised how tough you are."
Just the other day, she told me how great she thought I was doing and how proud she was I wasn't letting the stress of this new job take over me. Little does she know, I've had the best example to watch over the years.
My mom has taught me how to be tough and strong.
People always tell me how much I look and sound like my mother, and I always laugh and smile.
If there is one person I could be like, it would be her. I am honored people believe I think and act like my mother because I never thought I could be as strong of a woman as she is.
As I prepare to become a wife and a mother, I hope to instill many of the lessons my mom taught me in my own children.
I hope they are prepared to not have many sleepovers, to stay home on school nights, to complete their school work the best they can and only stay home sick if they have a fever.
For many years, they will probably think I am being too tough, but I hope one day, they can see how strong their mom is.
When they do, I will tell them I learned it from my mom.