You  know that horrible but usually-too-true saying about how a woman doesn’t want to end up like her mother? When I hear that phrase I think: Yep, I could rattle off many reasons I would rather be nothing like her. Her tendency to yell, her controlling nature, her high standards…

It rings true for most of us, but instead of focusing on the many things mothers get wrong when raising their kids, I would like to be grateful for the ways my mother got it right – the ways in which I want to be exactly like my mother.

No one is perfect. No parent is perfect. I am so thankful I had a mother who did these wonderful things; to give me the childhood many will never be as fortunate to have.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for…

Always making holidays and special occasions magical! 

The work you put in to wrap every Christmas present, to decorate the house for every birthday, taking me to holiday events like pumpkin patches and pictures with Santa, baking cakes and cookies, hiding teeth under pillows, creating treasure hunts at Easter. The work was not in vain. I still remember. It’s still magical.

Being at every important event in my life.

It means so much. You were always there. Whether it was a soccer game, a school play, a choir performance, an art show, a meet-the-teacher night, or a graduation, you were there. Despite working a full-time job and other various commitments (like five other kids), you cheered me every step of the way, you made me feel loved and important. I still feel the support and you are still there for me, at every important event.

The forced family fun such as camping trips, hiking, fishing, and family game night.

I may have complained at times. Loudly. I LOVED every minute!

Teaching me this lesson: “Never judge others by what you would do in a situation. They are not you. They do things differently.”

I still live by this every day.

All the family portraits.

You used to force us to pose at least once a year, usually more, for a family portrait. Let’s face it, getting a family of eight to smile and keep their eyes open at the exact same time is next to impossible. I used to mock them. I used to hide them behind the books on the bookshelf and shudder in embarrassment at my 80s hairstyles. But you knew they were important, and you wouldn’t budge despite our complaints. I changed my mind…they crack me up.

Creating the most wonderful home for our family.

You taught me that a home should be clean but more importantly, it should be cozy and welcoming; a true safe haven full of love, laughter, books, games, and music. You gave me such a gift in that home, and I strive every day to provide even a fraction of that environment for my own children.

Allowing me to be me

Letting me wear polka dot shorts, allowing me to bring home every rock on the earth’s surface and not creeping into my bedroom to throw them away. For not cringing too much when I gave my furniture the chicken pox, and not immediately making me peel off every sticker. I am so grateful.

Demonstrating that a woman can be anything she wants to be.

Because of your strength and accomplishments, I never doubted that I could be successful. You showed me I could follow my dreams and still be an amazing mother. You are the MOST amazing mother on the planet.

Teaching me the value of hard work and not to settle for less than my very best.

You taught me not to be afraid, to never let fear control me. I thought it was a harsh lesson at the time, but I realized you didn’t want me to go through life in fear. You wanted me to live. You modeled true friendship and the importance of the saying: judge a person by how much they are loved by others. You are so loved by so many because you are so kind and loving, so incredibly generous. I hope I can teach these amazing lessons to my children.

Mostly, I am grateful for your love.

In all my childhood and in all my life, I have never once doubted that I was truly loved. No matter what trial I was going through, no matter my doubts about myself, my fears about what life had in store. The best gift is knowing in the marrow of my bones, that I am loved; that I don’t have to change who I am to win that love. I have always had it, will always have it, no matter what. I know I can face anything with the support and love of my mother.