There's nothing like almost losing your Mom to make you really appreciate having one.
Let me tell you just a little about my Mom.
Mom built a beautiful, comfortable home for us, and all on a budget so Dad could follow his dreams and start his own business.
Mom prepared home-cooked meals for us - healthy ones - and we all sat down to dinner together as a family almost every night.
I remember waking up in the mornings and already hearing Mom downstairs in the kitchen, making pancakes or biscuits or muffins to start the day off right for all of us.
Mom was my teacher, homeschooling me from kindergarten through 12th grade. She often stayed up long into the night, writing lesson plans and brushing up on physics and trigonometry.
She was a night watchman, waking up if she heard one of us so much as sneeze. If we needed her, she'd be there in a minute. Like when I'd get the stomach flu in bed as a kid... before I could even call for Mom, she'd be there, changing the sheets and making everything better. And she could always tell each of us kids by our footsteps on the floors at night.
Sometimes she'd hum or sing in the kitchen, especially around Christmastime. Mom has always said she hopes she'll have a voice like Julie Andrews in heaven, but to little me, Mom's was nicer. I remember standing beside Mom and Dad in church as a kid, looking up as they sang the hymns, and thinking, "My parents have the most beautiful voices in the world."
Christmases and birthdays brought the kinds of gifts you want to keep forever, like the doll clothes Mom sewed for all my dolls: Christa, Betsy, Kirsten, and Amy. Mom nurtured my imagination through those doll clothes.
Mom taught me to iron, sort of (I still can't do shirt sleeves well), how to scrub stains, how to crotchet and sew a little, and how to cook and bake. She also taught me to clean a house without a single chemical cleaner to help keep Dad feeling healthy. And she taught me empathy for Dad's allergies with one disappointed look when I used nail polish in the house.
I also learned hard work in the great outdoors, pruning and weed whacking and planting - and even hauling around huge sections of fallen trees one summer.
We all learned to budget by dropping hard-earned coins into plastic butter tubs with the words 'Spend,' 'Save,' 'God,' and 'Share,' written on them. Sharing was in addition to tithing - we put those pennies toward our sponsored child. We learned to appreciate all that we had, and to share that abundance with others.
Mom fought off our nightmares with happy stories and pleasant imaginings to replace the bad dreams.
Mom taught me to play the piano when I was six or seven. She patiently helped me plunk my way through John Thompson, Book 1. By high school she was faithfully and enthusiastically attending my recitals and concerts.
Mom laughed a lot, and she sure knew how to make us laugh too. Silliness was always appreciated in our home, and we all learned to have a sense of humor. We learned to laugh at ourselves, but to stick up for each other.
We read a lot as a family, and often Mom read aloud until she began nodding off and Dad had to take over. Mom read us through the Little House books, the Narnia books, the Swallows and Amazons books, and many more.
Mom was a dutiful (and over-worked) chauffeur for all of us. She made sure we got to participate in soccer, mountain biking, violin lessons, piano lessons, youth symphonies, and play dates.
Mom taught us to love Jesus and to serve God. We memorized verses together as a family, we went to church together each week, and as we got older, we all talked about theology around the dinner table from time to time.
Until recently, I could count on one hand the number of times I saw my Mom cry. One of those times was when she left me at college as a freshman and we said goodbye.
Until last November, when Mom had a brain aneurysm, I think we all kind of thought Mom was invincible. Knowing a little about my Mom now, is it any surprise that we felt that way?
Well, Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks for everything. You're truly the best. Thanks for helping me transform from a shy, insecure kid into an adult who sometimes almost feels confident in herself. I'm glad you pushed me out of the nest, after all. I'm finding that I'm more prepared for life than I ever thought I'd be - thanks to you and Dad.
I'm really thankful that I have a Mom.