This is the first Mother's Day I have missed in twenty years - this summer, I'm living in Columbus, working hard and taking classes (switching your major three times WILL set you back to graduating on time). The first Mother's Day I've missed - and so, here is the best gift I can give from 800 miles from home.
I have been blessed with a mother who is strong, funny, relentlessly defensive of her family, especially her children. My mom is the definition of "forever young" - she acts like she's still in college sometimes, and being around her is always, always, ALWAYS an adventure.
But more than that - my mother has taught me more about life than anyone I have ever known. My mom has lived through some tough times, and rather than coming out the other side bitter or resentful, she has come out the other side full of light, love, and a sense of optimism that is, frankly, sometimes quite annoying. I've never met anyone who, upon hearing I'm Debne's daughter, doesn't say, "Oh my gosh, I just love your mom." And damn right.
My mom has taught me the importance of optimism, of choosing to laugh about your embarrassments and sorrows rather than wallow in them, and that there is absolutely no reason to do anything less than your best. Most important in that lesson is that as long as you did your best, there's no reason to get down on yourself.
My mom also taught me the importance of sticking up for yourself and asking for help. This lesson was primarily taught in the fierce and unrelenting way she defended my brother and me - hell hath no fury like a Debne scorned. There is no reason to let people walk all over you or the people you love.
She taught us the importance of hard work, and how hard work, more than right place right time and knowing people, will get you farther. With that lesson, of course, is knowing the services available to you, and taking advantage of those always.
My mom also taught me the importance of being a good friend, and what that means. She was always there for advice, for problem-solving, and occasionally to say "screw them" (especially when I needed it), and to say "you're being an asshole" (ALWAYS when I needed it).
My mom is fun loving, strong, confident, and the most amazing mother a girl with self-esteem (among other) issues could ask for. I could sit here and keep telling you how lucky I am to have my mom, how incredible she is (which I could never do justice in writing), but the important thing to remember this Mother's Day is this: you probably don't tell your mom how lucky you are to have her enough. You probably don't let her know how incredible, smart, beautiful, inspirational, or any adjective you feel best describes her, enough. So in addition to breakfast in bed, and flowers, tell your mom how much she means to you.
If I grow up to be half the woman my mom is, I'd be pretty damn lucky.