As a 31-year-old woman with no children of my own, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to observe you incredible women. All of you. And this is what I see…
Moms of young children, I see you. I see you getting by on three hours of sleep for year-long stretches at a time. I see you never going to the bathroom alone because you’ve always got a toddler with you, and you don’t want to waste an opportune teaching moment (“See Mommy pee? This is how big girls use the potty!”). I’m proud of you, for you are the most selfless and vital creature in all of society. You have the beautiful, overwhelming, underappreciated, amazing task of training tiny human beings to function in this world, and you do it well.
Moms of teenagers, I see you. I see you biting your tongue when your 13-year-old snaps at you in public because you, whether she realizes it or not, are teaching her grace and civility. I see you wearing your old shoes for one more year so that your son can have the cleats he needs. I see you juggling orthodontist appointments, basketball schedules, piano recitals, SAT tests, and social studies fairs. I’m proud of you, for you are holding the world together with a smile on your face and a huge purse full of everyone’s things but yours. You truly make the world go round.
Moms of grown children, I see you. I see you mastering the roles of both mother and friend, both counselor and cheerleader. I see you sharing your precious baby with spouses, in laws, and employers. I see you rejoicing in the long distance phone calls, weekend visits, and every-other-Christmases. I see you magically seeming to know when to hold on and when to let go, when to speak and when to stay silent, when to intervene and when to step back. I’m proud of you for being the North Star that always guides your babies home. You bridge the past and the future by beautifying the present.
Moms who’ve endured the death of a child, I see you. I see you mourning the birthdays and holidays that will never be celebrated. I see you fiercely, beautifully protecting the memory of your child. I see you navigating the world with grace and strength, even though your very soul is crushed and laid bare. I’m proud of you, for you exhibit the strongest evidence in the world of unconditional, unchanging, unending love. You are a phoenix who will rise from the ashes and continue to spin brokenness into beauty.
Moms of wayward children, I see you. I see you loving and serving, even when it’s hard and heartbreaking. I see you believing the best, despite evidence to the contrary. I see you praying, always praying, for God to bless and protect not just the person your child is today, but the person he or she is destined to become. I’m proud of you for choosing forgiveness over bitterness, hope over defeat, and the future over the past. Your gift to the world is perhaps the most necessary of all, that of second chances.
Moms who've miscarried and women who are longing for a baby, I see you. I see you gracefully disregarding your own pain to host other people’s baby showers. I see you fighting back tears but still sincerely celebrating the births of your friends’ children. I see you silently marking the birthdays that would have been or will never be. I’m proud of you for bravely facing down repeated sorrow with the sole, selfless motive of giving the precious gift of life to another person. You, in the midst of personal heartbreak, are the epitome of heroism, strength, and dignity.
And I see you, the ones who, with no children of your own, intentionally invest in other people’s kids. I see you choosing to view not having kids as an opportunity to impart excess support. I see you, rather than hording your time and talents, freely giving them, and with a special capacity for doing so. I see you expending your emotional, spiritual, and physical resources, gladly sharing simply because it’s a pleasure to do so. I’m proud of you, for although you know you have no claim on anyone’s affections or future, you choose to invest anyway, expecting nothing in return. You care deeply and love generously, and you’re thankful for the opportunity to pour a little extra into the children around you.
All of you, I see you. Your kindness, generosity, strength, and beauty do not go unnoticed. It’s a pleasure and a privilege watching you do this thing called love so well. You represent the very best parts of humanity, and the world could use a lot more of you. From me to you...big hugs, high fives, and happy Mother’s Day.
My mother-in-law Gina, who has always loved me like her own.