For her.

She’s not just my mother; she’s my friend. And today is her birthday.

It seems only right to honor her here, for she has been such an encourager of my writing, a faithful reader and commenter and cheerleader. She likes to write, too. And she’s a voracious reader. She loves to swim and eat salads and do crossword puzzles. She’s taught me more than I can say. But there are two things in particular from her wisdom that strike me, perhaps paradoxically so.

She’s taught me what it looks like to live for others. How she loves my dad, sister, and me (not to mention her parents, seven siblings, and dear friends) with such self-forgetfulness I’ll always marvel at. I think of it when she stands at the kitchen sink after a long day, uncomplainingly washing the dishes from dinner. When she peruses pages and pages of dresses online to find one I’ll love. When she visits my grandparents week after week, sitting sweetly by my grandmother’s bedside as she reads Dr. Seuss with gusto. She looks to serve and care and give and forgive. And she’s always ready to welcome me home with open arms, however long I’ve been away.

She’s taught me what it looks like to take care of yourself. This is an art not many adults have perfected, I’ve noticed. But her love of others comes from a proper love of herself. She knows what she needs to be well, to be joyful, to be full of life. She seeks her passions and says “no” when necessary. She is gentle and kind to herself and encourages others to follow suit, both by her words and deeds. She allows me great freedom to fail in this area, ready to offer counsel but never condemnation when I run myself to the ground. It gives me joy to know she is just a phone call away, armed with compassion whenever I need it.

Her life is a great gift to me, and I thank God for bringing her into the world. For without her, neither would I be.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so.




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