Ode to My Mother

If I have a regret from my teen years, it’s that I didn’t insist on pictures of me with my parents. We weren’t exactly a family of huggers, and my parents usually took pics of us kids, but rarely got in the shot. Now that I am adult, I hate that.

Today my mom is 65–which is awesome by itself–but she is also retiring today from a job she has worked incredibly hard for over the past 30 years. And when I flipped through my albums for pictures, there just weren’t many.

So she gets what I have (sorry, not really sorry, mom). If you’ve ever wondered where I get my drive and determination from, look no further.

I think we can both agree this is better of her than of me

When I was writing my essays to get into college, I had to choose someone who had an impact on my life. The choice was simple: my mom. Looking back though, her impact back then was so tiny compared to what it is now.

Today she retires from her job of 30 years, which is a big deal for anyone, but to me, it’s the culmination of years of modeling for me what it looks like to be a successful working mom.

I come from a long line of really hardworking, passionate, humble women. My great grandmother, Katherine, had 14 kids. My grandmother, Grandma Jo, pushed through a terrible marriage to an abusive drunk and was a single mom to four girls. She took in laundry, cleaned houses, and collected welfare. She worked hard, but was so loving and compassionate to others.

My own mother, Patti, worked part-time while being a stay-at-home mom for my early years. When the tiny grocery store she worked in since age 15 closed, she had two school-aged kids and wanted something more. She took typing classes and began to take in typing work for the company she is retiring from today. When I was 12, she decided she wanted to do more than just type invoices, so she went back to college for her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

It took her about six years to get her degree because she was working part-time, momming and wife-ing full-time, all while putting in 100% for each class she took. She was still involved at church. She still brought us to all the things and showed up for all the things. She still cooked full meals 5 days a week and vacuumed (seemingly) every day.

At the time I very much took advantage of everything my mom did all at once. Now, as a working mom going to school myself, I just shake my head. I swear she had superpowers.

My mom was never late.

Our house was never trashed.

No one ever missed an appointment.

She got groceries and meal-planned and we always had a full meal on the table Mon-Friday.

She never missed a deadline.

She got straight A’s in all her classes–even the literature and composition ones that she claimed were “hard”.

She moved WAY out of her comfort zone for her physical education classes and group work and readings she would have never chosen on her own.

We still had family vacations.

We still went to church every Sunday (twice because RCA in a small town, yo) and youth group on Wednesdays.

She is 40 in this photo and I can honestly say that between the two of us, SHE has the better haircut at 40.

She was the budget-keeper of our family. The one who kept the calendar. The maker of school lunches and appointments and reservations. She kept us going so smoothly, we didn’t even realize the work involved.

And she never complained.

Or if she did, it wasn’t in front of any of us.

And she graduated from Hope College in the spring of 1996 the same spring I graduated from high school.

She went from just typing invoices to becoming the controller for the whole company. She has so much responsibility it has taken literal months to train her replacement. She is trustworthy and responsible. She is kind, but fair. Above all, she is a hard worker. I don’t think my mom has half-assed anything in her whole life. And people know that and count on her.

My mom worked hard her whole life for every goal she set for herself. She made time for volunteering and charity. She spent time with her kids and husband. She made a happy home for all of us.

She is exactly who I want to be as a working, schooling mom and wife.

(by the way, she still takes her role as mommy very seriously and checks up on me after chemo and brings me donuts to help me feel better.)

And now that she is retiring, I am so proud of what she has built. I’m excited for her for what she can do next.

I’m excited that she will be home during the week to possibly do fun things with her grandkids. I’m excited that we can invite her along to the park or the zoo or the beach. I’m excited to just stop in for coffee. I’m excited for the adventures she and my dad can have now that they are both retired.

She has always been my role model for being an awesome, loving working mom and wife. I have no doubt she will become my role model for retirement too!

Congratulations and Happy birthday, Momma! You deserve all the love and appreciation sent to you today!

PS. Let’s take more pictures together!