When I was a teenager going to girls’ camp each summer, parents were supposed to write their daughters a letter to open and read one evening around the campfire. When I opened my letter, instead of a long, sappy letter, you’d made a long list of reasons I was fantastic. After that first year, reading the new list each summer, for five years in a row, was one of the highlights of my year.
I’m sure I have those letters somewhere (although I don’t know where they are at the moment), but I still clearly remember some of the things on that list, like the fact that I’d survived (and aced!) my high school anatomy class. I loved those letters because they were so specific – they told me you were paying attention to my life, to the things I cared about, to the success and failures of my teenage-self. No letter could have possibly been better.
So in that spirit, here are 20 reasons I think you are fantastic:
- You become interested in the things your children are involved in. I don’t know that your idea of a great weekend was judging endless rounds of speech and debate tournaments, but you always acted thrilled to be there, and afterward would talk intelligently about different performances across a wide variety of events, from policy debates to humorous interpretations.
- You send fun little gifts, just because.
- You are too far away to babysit my children, but you’ll entertain Ella for long stretches of time via videochat so I can make dinner.
- You value education, both for yourself and for your children. Now that I have children, I’m more impressed than ever that you finished your degree after I was born.
- You are a great storyteller. I remember when you came home from having seen “You’ve Got Mail” and telling me the plot. I could imagine the whole thing (and even now, more than a decade later, I can still picture my mental images of the scenes). You even remembered many of the lines, verbatim.
- You are great at picking baby names. I’ve loved having an unusual name, long before uncommon names was popular. I hope I’m like you, never regretting, even almost 30 years later, any of the names I’ve given my children.
- You’ve always made time for each of your children individually, both at home and taking trips with just the two of us.
- You love to try new things, from restaurants to movies to vacation destinations. I love your sense of adventure.
- You didn’t spoil us when we lived at home, but now that most of your children are adults, you like to say this is your chance to spoil us (and I’m not complaining).
- You aren’t stingy about anything. You’re happy to share good ideas, friends, recipes, movies, books, and trips.
- You’ve made Bart feel instantly welcome and part of our family, and I know you’ve done the same for your other sons-in-law.
- You play, without complaint, hundreds of games with Ella even when it’s the same game over and over and over again (bingo, anyone?).
- You are so at ease around people you haven’t met – I’ve never worried about bringing strangers over or having you come along to a gathering where you knew no one.
- You passed along a deep love of reading. Most of my favorite books are ones you bought me or ones you read aloud to me (all the way through high school!). I’ll always be grateful for this.
- You have fantastic taste. Almost every item of clothing that I get complimented on is something you’ve purchased. You’ve definitely still got it!
- You aren’t intimidated by big projects – from homeschooling four children to painting every room in the house (multiple times!), nothing ever seemed too big or too hard.
- You love brightly painted doors. I’ll never be able to see a vibrant green or blue or purple door without thinking of you.
- You take my suggestions seriously – I’m always flattered when you read a book or watch a movie I’ve recommended.
- You are spontaneous – I’ll never forget the time you drove me back up to college and you said, “I bet we could make a matinee of a Shakespeare play in Cedar City if we hurry.” And we did.
- You are the biggest cheerleader for all of your children. I’ve never felt like someone was more proud of me, more enthusiastic about my successes, or my confident in my abilities than you always have been.
I love you for all these reasons and so many more.
We’re celebrating Mother’s Day by celebrating leaning in to motherhood, and by recognizing the extraordinary women that are our own mothers. We hope that it will inspire you to thank your own mother, or the mother who most inspires you. Find more letters and stories about leaning into motherhood here. And, of course, find your own Lean In inspiration at LeanIn.org.