When you told me that justice would be served only in the event that I had a little girl who behaved in the same independent, confident, opinionated, sassy way I did as a child, I shuddered. I thought I was safe when the Doctor pointed at an obvious "boy part" on the ultrasound screen. Turns out, there is no safe and don't you worry, justice has been served.
Becoming a Mother, especially to a wild, strong-willed, independent, stubborn child of my own, has upped the level of gratitude and love I have for you significantly...and it was alot to begin with.
I have always known I had a special kind of Mom. Among other things that made your awesomeness obvious, were the grown ups coming up to me and making sure I knew how lucky I was to have you. It happened all the time, family members and strangers just wanting to make sure I knew how amazing you were. Then as I got older, those people were no longer random adults, they were my friends. At 10, the kids wished they had the same cool homemade Halloween costumes we had. They talked about how fun and funny you were. In high school, I heard alot about how hot you are. Flattering for you, disturbing for me. Aside from the hormonal boys who thought they were men though, I still heard alot about what amazing parents I had. Our friends jumped at a dinner invitation because they knew that sitting around the dinner table with the Walter/Downing family was a glimpse into something that was rare, genuine, and seemingly entertaining. There was no "How was school?" "Fine." There was laughter, love, and real conversation that flowed naturally. A seat at our dinner table was a preview for them, but we knew the real story. The full picture of the family that was shaped by a woman who is everything I hope to be.
I now know that you probably see our childhood differently than I do. I have this memory of being SO excited that I got to go to school with you. I pretended like I was older, and actually comprehending what the professor was teaching as I sat next to you doodling on a notepad (a yellow one, I knew those meant business.) I didn't know then that as a 20-something single mother to 3 children, a babysitter probably backed out and you had no choice but to drag me along to one of the college courses you were taking in addition to the job you held. Being a Mom can be hard. It can be even harder when you are faced with the challenges that you have overcome. Thank you, Mom, for never making me feel like a burden. For never letting on how broke we were and making us feel like we had it all. In all reality, we did.
I was given the rare gift of a flawless childhood, and as an adult I am reminded how lucky I am to have you as my Mom. We were custom made for eachother and our relationship is one that I know is also a rare gift. I can't articulate the overwhelming gratitude that I feel for you when I think back to just this last year alone. You going crazy in the kitchen on my wedding day. You shaving my legs while I was on bedrest in the hospital. You holding my hand as I gave birth to a child that I had already lost. You just being there. All the time. Always when I need you most. Always knowing the right things to say, always knowing when to say nothing at all.
I am so thankful for you. For the sacrifices you made, and continue to make and the beautiful woman and role model you are. To be told that I am like my mom is the highest compliment I could ever recieve. I love you, Mom.