During my lifetime, you've become so much more than just my mother. You're my friend, confidant and partner for impromptu kitchen sing-alongs and dance parties. We laugh at my children's antics and cry at movies. We're both nervous about shopping, other people's driving and random creatures like bees and squirrels invading our personal space. Today, you're a constant source of inspiration and encouragement, and your presence in my life makes me a better person. But in my earliest years, you were simply Mom, my caregiver.
Motherhood has provided me with many gifts, but the perspective I've gained from the experience is the one which I value most. I get it now, Mom, when people say that becoming a parent changes your life, and the past three years have made me want to throw myself at your feet and thank you... Because I now know what it's like to simply be Mom, the caregiver, in the eyes of my young children.
The intense pain of labor and birth followed by the profound joy of meeting your child for the first time. How in that moment you're humbled, overwhelmed, awestruck and so in love all at once.
What it's like to stay awake for hours on end with a crying infant. How it feels to feed them, burp them, change them, rock them and wonder what's wrong and whether you're doing things right.
The struggle of pulling yourself out of bed early after sleepless nights because somebody needs you, even though every fiber of your being keeps repeating, rest, rest, rest.
How a day can feel like a decade, and a year can pass in a moment.
The way it feels the first, second, third and tenth times your baby gets sick or hurt. How heartbreaking it is to cradle and cuddle a feverish little body, that feeling of helplessness and how you always wish it could be you instead of them.
The pride that comes when your baby meets a milestone or makes a new connection, and the sting of bitter-sweetness because you know it means they're growing up.
That longing for a moment to yourself. How non-stop and overwhelming and thankless it feels sometimes when you're dragging your exhausted body through the day, taking care of little ones and counting the minutes until bedtime.
...And the tremendous relief and subsequent waves of guilt that happen suddenly when they're finally asleep and the house is dark and quiet.
What it's like to rock your sleeping infant and cry as you trace the outline of their tiny face with your finger, savoring the moment and wishing they could stay that small always, yet knowing you're powerless against time.
How your heart fills up every time your baby nuzzles into your shoulder, reaches their arms up for you or calls you "Momma.'
The role of Mother is all-consuming, overwhelming, and profound. And I understand now, Mom. The perspective I've gained after having my own children is invaluable to me, and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for you. For all the love, comfort, compassion and kindness you've provided throughout my life; for being my caregiver during my early years and my friend, my inspiration and my biggest source of support as I've grown -- thank you.
An earlier version of this post ran here.