Dear Mom,

In fair warning, this is the beginning of a meager attempt at thanking you; meager because I know I only witness a fraction of your sacrifice, and my words cannot possibly reconcile all the moments that go unseen.

This is not just for everything you do, but for everything you are. I don’t think we kids realize the kind of strength and determination it sometimes takes for you to just be.

You are a protector—a fierce mama bear prepared to defend her children. You are a source of wisdom and experience, openly sharing your mistakes and triumphs so we might learn from them and thrive in our own decisions. You are our cook, our nurse, our homework helper, our chauffeur, our manager—our mom.

With an already sacrificial love you carried each one of us, either in womb or in heart. Before you began, you probably had some sort of idea of the things you’d have to do as a mother, but perhaps not all the things you’d have to be.

You’ve had to be strong when you feel like collapsing; collected when your life is going a hundred different directions. You’ve had to be peaceful as you waved goodbye to your children, hopping on a plane to go get another. You’ve spent endless hours waiting with your child in a hospital room, torn from home and thrown into a seemingly endless list of unanswered questions, and you’ve had to be faithful.

I don’t know how you can be all these things at once, but you are. If I ever thought I had it rough, you’ve had it one hundred times more so.

So thank you. Thank you for all the ways you put us before yourself. I’m sorry for the times I forget just how hard you work and just how much you love me.

I love you, Mom. You’re truly amazing.