First things first–Mom, grab tissues. I got teary-eyed thinking of writing this, so I can guarantee that you will cry.
Now, onto the important part.
I don’t even know where to begin or how to thank you for everything that you have done for me–whether I have realized it or not. I know that Leeann and I have done many things in the past to show you the love we have for you. This is the first time my love and gratitude will be spelled out in public, for all to see.
I know that you have never sought out to be famous, but I can assure you that you are very famous. Sure, Hollywood might have forgotten again to come make a major-motion picture about you. I know that the New York Times keeps running stories other than the story of you. You are not a YouTube sensation, and no talk shows are competing for your presence. Action News has never interviewed you. The media’s forgetfulness has not made you less famous. You see, you are famous simply because of how you have loved me–and continue to love me.
Whenever someone asks me what I am reading, it is because you have given me your love of reading. You taught me to love words, to love reading, and to love books.
Whenever someone says that I have taken a good photograph, it all comes back to you. You were always snapping pictures of our family, recording history and capturing memories. As a photographer, I can never say thank you enough for photographing our family as the years have gone by. You have forever recorded some of my most treasured and important memories. You gave me my first camera when I was a lot younger, and I fell in love with taking my own photos right away. The rest is history.
Whenever someone compliments me for being creative, they are really complimenting you. I still remember sitting next to you in church and asking you week after week how to draw different things as I drew in my bulletin. Even though you didn’t always know, you never let that stop you. You took a hold of my pencil and showed me which lines went where.
Thank you for loving me well enough to put up with my constant requests of, “Mom, can you help me with my hair?” even though I am twenty-six and should be able to pull off an amazing hairstyle on my own without help. Pinterest makes everything look easy, but a photo from someone else’s life does not help my heart to feel loved. You sitting there, taking the time to learn and try your hardest as you brush, comb, control, and attempt to style my hair shows me your love. When people compliment the hairstyles you have done, you become more famous. I never take credit for what you have done.
You have taught me that dreaming is something we should constantly engage in. Sometimes, we dream big. Sometimes, though, we dream together just by walking through the kitchen appliances in Target, yet again.
You show your love in a variety of ways and always have: dancing with me in the supermarket, having the patience to deal with me the many times I have been sick and miserable, taking me to the playground after school just because, coming to all of my (home) soccer games and track meets, snuggling with me on the couch, throwing me a princess birthday party even though I am an adult, buying me gifts that you knew I would love yet would never ask for, chaperoning countless field trips, handwriting letters for me when I was working at camp and living at college, praying for me, teaching me responsibility at a young age, cooking and baking with me, supporting my dreams (even the crazy ones), listening to me (no matter what), making way too many jokes to even count, speaking truth over me, protecting me, becoming friends with my friends, trusting me enough to allow me to spread my wings, allowing me to keep living at home (even though I am sure that you never imagined I would still be living here now), cooking meals for me, doing laundry load after laundry load, cleaning the house, hugging me and kissing me, allowing me the time and space to be creative, de-licing my hair when I was in 4th grade, driving me ALL over the place (even the one block to school when I twisted my ankle in junior high)—I could list example after example of your love, but there is no way I could be finished in time for Mother’s Day. No matter what the specific example of love looks like, they all share one common connection. You have shown me your love simply by sharing your heart with me. We always joke that we share a brain, but I think we also share a heart. There is no other way to explain our similarities in our personality and viewpoints. There is no other way to explain the depth of the love we have for each other. A few years ago, you bought a birthday card for me that referred to me as a “fraughter”—a friend who is also a daughter. It is an honor to be considered a close friend of yours, in addition to being one of only two people on the face of the planet who can call you “Mom.”
I know that sharing your heart with someone is not always an easy decision to make. It’s a choice to be vulnerable and selfless. I thank you for trusting me enough to share your heart with me. When I was growing up, I only knew you as Mom—and that’s how it is supposed to me. Now that I am older, I have been allowed the joy of getting to know you not just as Mom (because that relationship is always growing and changing), but also as Val. I know that your life has not always been easy, but the strength of your heart and your faith in Jesus are such clear indicators of who you are. You possess and radiate beauty, strength, faith, love, grace, humor, understanding, compassion, mercy, and a heart that is always thinking of others first.
I know that living with two adult children isn’t the easiest of situations. I know that tensions sometimes flare up. I know that my room is rarely as clean as you want it to be. I know that I sometimes scare you when I come home late or leave early for work. I know that sometimes it seems as if we do not listen to you. If this letter is any indication, we are listening to you, more than you ever realize. Your job as mom has made you famous—not because your name is a household name—but because your heart touches and transforms the world every time Leeann and I leave home.
I love you and can’t wait to celebrate Mothers’ Day and your birthday with you!
PS. I would ask you for your autograph, since you are famous, but I already have it in multiple places—written on papers and also written on my heart!