Happy Birthday! I'm so glad that you were born and I'm so thankful that I get to be your daughter. You've blessed me with so much wisdom, love and generosity over the years, so it seemed fitting to share with others some of qualities that make you you and some of the best things you've taught me over the years.
1. You make people feel wanted. I remember a conversation we had a few years ago about Oprah, and you mentioned that when we were young, you watched an Oprah episode where she talked about the importance of making your kids feel as though you want to spend time with them, and how that was particularly shaping in the way you raised us. Looking back, it was crazy obvious how much you valued that message. I can't remember a moment of my life where I felt like you didn't want me around. I remember times of waking you up from a nap when I was young, and instead of asking me to leave you alone, you slid over and asked me to join you. You always make yourself available to talk or visit, and I know that I am always welcome in your home. This quality of yours is so special to me, because I can understand now how much consistent, intentional and hard work it is to maintain such a welcoming, enthusiastic attitude. I hope that I can make other people feel as welcomed and wanted as you have made me feel.
2. You taught me to want things, but to hold on to them loosely. So often when I was disappointed about something growing up, I remember being slightly bitter at the fact that you didn't participate in my misery, but instead encouraged me to move on with my life. Looking back, I know what you were doing --- you were allowing me to feel my disappointment, but you were also showing me that the world does not stop with my heartache. I'm so grateful for that now --- disappointments no longer cause me to fall to pieces (well, at least not for very long...). Particularly, I'm thankful that you showed no sympathy for me when I did not achieve something I had not worked hard for.
3. You get my jokes, and you think they are funny. As one of 2-3 such people on earth, you have no idea how much that means to me.
4. When someone has a dream, you support it full-heartedly. When dad decided to coach college baseball in Michigan, you moved. When I decide to get healthy (on the many occasions this happens), you support me in any way you can. You stand behind your friends and family, and I know I'm not alone when I say that you are in my corner. You're "all-in" with your loved ones, and that is a rare thing, indeed. You inspire me to be a better wife, a better daughter, and a better friend.
5. You're an open book. I think I'll always treasure the season of life we shared when we both followed our husbands out of state. Knowing that there was someone else going through the same things I was going through made the transition so much easier. I'm also so thankful for the level of transparency you've shown in recent years --- as an adult I feel that I've gotten to see a more complete picture of who you are since you've chosen to share your joys, struggles, hopes and disappointments with me.
6. You might just be the most selfless person I know. It takes a woman and a half to put up with our family's array of business, and the fact that you are alive, well and you still like us says everything about who you are. You welcomed Grandma into your house and your life 24/7, you take such good care of my Dad, and I can't count how many times you've dropped what you were doing to help me out (remember that time my car keys wouldn't work until you showed up?). I hope to one day be as generous with myself and my time as you are with yourself.
7. ...But you also make sure to take care of yourself. For a person who juggles so many plates on a day to day basis, it would be easy to make a martyr of yourself --- but you don't. You're a remarkable example of what it means to take care of others by taking care of yourself --- you make sure you get what you need so that you are prepared to support the people in your life who need you the most. I admire that so much.
8. You're not afraid to have the tough conversations. If a conversation needs to be had, you have it. You are honest, and you face problems head-on.
9. You love your grand-puppies. I love that you love my Rhinoceros and welcome him and all his chaos into your house. I love that you play with him, snuggle him, and are satisfied with just a grand-puppy for now :)
10. You're safe. You are both a rock and a soft-place to break a fall. You are a safe place to go with my troubles and a fun place to go with my joys. You are a safe place and a haven for SO many people, and I hope to return the favor by being a safe place for you.
Thanks for being my mom, my friend, an accountability partner, an encouragement, a source of truth and a source of fun. I love you more than you'll ever know, and I'm so, so thankful to be your family.
Happy Birthday, Mom.