I am surrounded by moms that inspire me beyond words. Moms who encourage me, who push me, and who are there for me through everything. Here's to the moms...
To my grandma Kathleen, who I never got to meet. You and Grandpa Denny have left a legacy behind and were able to instill love and values in your children, in my very own mom, in the short years you got to be with them. I've been blessed to have my mom 20 years longer than she had you, and I hope for 20 more and 20 after those too. When I look at your pictures with your two different colored eyes and my same crooked smile, I feel like I know you. I feel like you are a part of me. My own mom made sure you were alive to us, that we always knew about you.
To my Mama Jennifer. You have always talked to me like your daughter AND friend. You've given me honesty and openness that most mothers don't afford their daughters. When doctors didn't believe in me, y0u did. When doctors wanted to butcher me, you said no. There are a million things I could say, but I know I don't have to.
To my mother-in-law, Gaby. You have raised a fine son who is the best father and husband a family could as for. You are an awesome Oma to our Ayla, and you are a kind heart we are all thankful to be surrounded by.
To my aunt Kari. You are an awesome mom who has always supported and loved your children through the ups and downs of life. Like my own mom, you have stood by a child with health issues and always championed for her. You are kind and thoughtful beyond measure. I am lucky my mom got the bestest sister because I got the bestest aunt.
To my aunt Julie. You have always been there for me, and I am so proud to see how far you have come over the years. You are happy and experiencing such great joys and life, and I am so happy because you deserve them all. Now, you are not only a great mom and aunt, but you are a grandma (bet that makes you feel old!) to your babies' babies.
To my sister, Alexis. You aren't a mother yet, but someday you will be. You are a great sister, daughter, and Ti-Ti (aunt). You were brave enough to hold a camera and a leg while I gave birth, and I hope to do the same for you someday. Even as a little girl, you had the loving, patient qualities of an amazing mom. I will never forget hearing your 3-year-old voice comfort me as I was being inundated by spinal injections, saying, "You can squeeze my hand as hard as you want."
To my sister-in-law Jessica, who is brave enough to follow her heart. She has been a breastfeeding champion, home schooler, and upon the birth of her 3rd child, a VBAC homebirther. I have seen the transformation motherhood has done in her life, and I am so proud of her.
To my dear friend Amanda. You taught me about the importance of extended rear-facing, which allowed me to teach so many of my own mama friends in turn. You cheered me on my whole pregnancy and never judged me. You wished Ayla a happy monthaversary every month of her life until she was 2! You've been my crunchy mama mentor, teaching me about healthier ways of living, transforming how I look at food and the products I use on a daily basis.
To my amazing friend Kimberly. You know all about what it's like to be welcomed to Holland rather than Italy. Heck, you know what it is like to have dual citizenship! Your strength, bravery, kind heart, and relentless courage inspire me and make me so proud to know you and call you friend. Never underestimate what you do, you are fulfilling a calling every day!
To my friend Tonia. You are such an awesome Mama! You manage to create such an awesome, adventure-filled life for your 3 kids. You constantly encourage them and help them follow their dreams and their hearts, and I hope that as a mother, I am able to do the same. You even mother me when I need it; you always have my back.
To my friend Tori. You are a mother hen to everyone you meet with a heart of gold! Also, you're the busiest person I know, and I know that you are filling the chapters of your daughter's life with memories upon memories!
To all the other mothers in my life, you know who you are. I know awesome single mamas who don't get a break, yet manage to fill their homes with love and laughter. I know mamas who are raising children with special health needs, who accept and love their children exactly as they are and will defend and support their children endlessly. I know mamas of the heart who have waited patiently for their time to become a mama, and I can't wait to be by their side as they get to embark on the greatest journey ever. I know mamas who have been in the dark emptiness of post-partum depression, post-partum anxiety, or post-partum OCD (just as I have been) who have fought a battle every day, a battle which has made them no less of a mom, but instead has made motherhood triumphant and joyful while dealing with such a struggle that no one would choose. Thank you mothers. Thank you for mothering me in all your many ways, and thank you for helping shape and grow me as a mother.
I love you Moms!