Dear Mom,

Remember all of those times you told me that when I had children of my own, “I would understand”? I hated when you said that. But, here we are and I get it. I understand now, and I owe you an apology.

I’m sorry it took me until becoming a mother myself to truly appreciate all that you do. I know you had long days of the never-ending cyclic system of caring for our home and for your children. The laundry, the dishes, the bath nights, the occasional fights to break up, the appointments, the car-pooling, the chauffeuring, without so much as a meaningful “thank-you” most days. Yet, you never complained and you woke up the next day to start the same cycle over again. I am sorry for those sticky peanut butter knives lying on a freshly cleaned kitchen counter. That is annoying.

I’m sorry I never saw how much you sacrificed for us. From denying plans with your own friends because you had a sick child, or for picking up your crying infant for the eighth time during the night to suck the last bit of energy out of your weary body when all you want is to sleep. I’m sorry for the inconvenience of having to pick me up at a friend’s house because I was too homesick to endure my first sleep over.  You never stopped giving for us.

I’m sorry I didn’t fully understand how much you loved your babies. I know it broke your heart to see us sick, to see our feelings hurt or to see us disappointed. I’m sure you laid your hand on our newborn chests to make sure we were breathing. I know you experienced the mixed feelings of seeing our first teeth, watching our first steps, and marking how tall we had gotten within the past year. Not because you grieved our development, but because we were leaving a phase you wouldn’t get back with us. I know the feeling you had in your heart when you watched us laugh and play. I know you savored the moments we laid our heads on your shoulder as we slept.

And I’m dreadfully sorry I laughed at you every time you pee on yourself when you sneeze. That is not funny.

I’m sorry I didn’t understand the difficulty of letting us go. I know it was hard for you to let go each time you watched daddy teach us to ride a bike, as you watched us pull out of the driveway on our own for the first time, as you watched me fly to a third world country, as you watched us go on our first date, as you moved me into a college dorm, as you watched daddy walk me down the isle, and watched another woman walk down the isle to your baby boy. I know that was hard. It hurts to relinquish the illusion of control we think we have over these little people the Lord gifted us to raise.

I’m sorry I didn’t realize that your job is never truly done. Just as the dirty dishes never come to an end, and toys would always end up back on the floor, your love and commitment to us has never stopped. I never fully realized how true this is until I saw the way you cared for me when I became a mom. As a grown woman myself, who had just delivered a new baby that was completely dependent on me, and yet I had never felt so dependent on my own mother.

I’m sorry I didn’t know the feelings that you experience with motherhood. I’m sure you had days of questioning if you were doing it all right. I’m sorry if you ever doubted your ability to mother us well, if you experienced guilt, hurt feelings, loneliness, or judgmental comments. I’m sorry if you sat up at night wondering if you were making the best decisions for these little people who were completely dependent on you. If you ever felt any of this, rest assured, you did it all well.

You mothered us so well that you made me want to be one, too. While you took care of our home, baked cookies with us, played salon while washing my hair in the sink, sewed our curtains, had picnics with us in the yard, took us on field trips, played baby dolls with me, painted my playhouse, exemplified Jesus to us, and taught us life lessons in the littlest of mundane tasks, I was watching you. I watched you close enough to know that you loved being a mommy to us. And I wanted to be like you. Because being a mommy is arguably the most important, yet undervalued job you could have chosen. Thank you for choosing us.