I was incredibly fortunate to grow up surrounded by many strong, independent, and wonderful women. Among these women was my mom. As I’ve grown up, we’ve had our fair share of arguments and fights. But I also know just how lucky I have been to have her as a role model, to be showered with her love. Today is my mom’s birthday. To wish her a “Happy Birthday”, here are some of the things I love about her!
1. She has always encouraged and supported my dreams (and my siblings’ dreams), even the ones that seemed (or seem) a bit difficult to attain. Many of my fellow Peace Corps trainees, as well as other friends from home, have shared that their parents, particularly their moms, weren’t particularly fond of the idea of them leaving home to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in a country very far away. Those that knew my sister was also abroad when I departed seemed even less convinced when I told them that both my sister and I had the full support of our parents. I know that my mom misses us now and will miss us in the future when we are halfway around the world from her, but she has also supported us on our journeys. When I told her I had applied to the Peace Corps, she was a bit surprised, but she was also so, so happy for me.
2. Even though I may have (ok, and sometimes still do) fight her on getting outside, I’m so thankful that much of my childhood was spent in the outdoors. My mom loves being outside, and she made sure that we spent lots of time playing outside when we were growing up. I didn’t often appreciate it when I was younger, but I’m glad that I spent much of my time as a kid enjoying the outdoors.
3. She taught me that if you are determined and willing to work hard, you can do pretty much anything you put your mind to. And she demonstrated this countless times, from insisting that she could plant trees on her own (which is actually very hard work), or carrying 70+ pounds of groceries into the house at one.
4. She shared the gift of reading with me and my siblings. We are all very good readers, and we also all enjoy reading for entertainment. When we were young, she would read to us every day. I remember being about 6 or 7, and she would read Indian Captive, a few pages at a time, to my younger sister and I every night before bed. It was a book that was well beyond our reading capabilities, and it is a book I still remember quite well today.
5. She (along with my dad) provided us with amazing travel opportunities. Whenever my parents are asked how they came to have kids so eager to travel the world, I can’t help but think in my head, “Well, they ingrained it in us.” They saved their money so that we could travel both far and near. When they took us to Switzerland in 2008, our first international trip (and my mom’s first time off the continent of North America), they opened up a whole world of opportunities.
6. She provided countless opportunities to be creative. When we were younger, my mom stayed home with us. She would comb through Family Fun Magazine for cute craft ideas, which we would then make.
7. She taught us that having fun and living life are way more important than a perfectly clean house. My friends always loved coming over to our house, because they knew that we could build forts, make a mess in the kitchen baking cookies, or sing karaoke at the top of our lungs, and my mom wouldn’t care (okay, we did have to clean up after ourselves).
8. She encouraged us to have our own opinions and allowed us to voice them. I think she sometimes regrets this now, as she ended up with three highly opinionated kids, but I’m so glad we were allowed to be a part of discussions and debates.
9. She didn’t let us quit half-way through a commitment. If we said we were going to do something, we were expected to carry through with it. I think this is a really important trait to have.
10. I’ve never wondered if my mom loves me. There was never any doubt.
Mom, I know you hate being the center of attention, but I wanted to make sure you knew that I love you and that I wish you the happiest of birthdays and year to come! I wish I could be home to celebrate with you, but I know Chris is going to make sure you have a good birthday at home! Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me! I love you!!