My mom at age 24, holding my brother.
When I was in elementary school, we would always make some sort of construction paper craft to give to our mothers for Mother's Day. A basket. A woven heart. A daisy-themed door hanger. Do you remember any of those things? I don't know if you remember them, or even if you liked them at the time. You were, after all, never one for fuss. No, you preferred to celebrate my birthday, which always falls within a few days of, if not actually on, Mother's Day.
Now that I am older, I am humbled, so utterly and completely humbled, by how little you expect in return.
You have always loved me unconditionally, always, and there is nothing I can do and nothing I can buy in order to pay you back for the years of undeserved love. The most I can do is love you back. And make you laugh. And write you letters. And tell you stories.
It's what you used to do for me each night, when I was small--read stories. Together, we'd thumb through Berenstain Bear books and even the Lutheran catechism. You taught me prayers. You taught me poems. You taught me to read. You taught me that it's okay to be scared of bumps in the night, that it's okay to sleep with the light on.
You taught me how to make your signature macaroni and cheese (a dollop of dijon, a fistful of parsley). You taught me how to make deviled eggs. You taught me how to check the fluids in my first car. You taught me how to properly use a hammer, and taught me the difference between Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers. You taught me how to fly a kite. You taught me to listen to my gut instinct. Through your mistakes and your triumphs, you taught me how to be strong. You taught me how to fight for what I believe is just.
I love you more than you know, mom, and sometimes it's hard to express those sentiments when we're two states and six hundred miles apart. Distance aside, you're still my mom. I still want to share with you my good news. I still want to talk to you when I need advice. I still want to call you when wandering the grocery store, frustrated that "I can't find tahini! WHERE WOULD THE TAHINI BE?" You're there to tell me where the tahini is. You're there to tell me what movie the quote "What is a plethora?" comes from ("The Three Amigos"). You're there when I need to be cheered up. You're my partner in crime, my fellow lover of "Wicked," "Harry Potter," and bad '80s movies.
And I love you. That's the long and the short of it.
And, no matter what you try to tell me, today is your day.
You're more than I ever could've asked for. More than I ever could've wished for. You're a parent. You're a friend. You're a confidante. You're an advice columnist. You're a cook. You're a letter writer. You're a fan. You're a mom. You're my mom.
And I love you.