My mom passed away several years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I would say if I had the chance to have just one more conversation. There are so many things, of course—how can you fit ten years into just one chat? If I could only say one thing to her, though, it would be this:

“I see you. Thank you, Mom.”

My parents divorced when I was young. My mom went from staying at home with my brother and me to being thrust back into the workforce full-time. We began daycare, and I began being resentful. I was sad that my mom had to work and frustrated when she missed things. At that time, I was different from the other kids at my school whose moms didn’t work. I couldn’t participate in afterschool activities because she was working and couldn’t pick me up.

I spent many years feeling different and sometimes ashamed. It upset me that I wasn’t like other kids and that my mom wasn’t around. What escaped my young mind was that she was doing the work that is often done by two parents. My husband and I work to divide and conquer, and we are still trying to make it all happen.

It wasn’t until she was gone and I had children of my own that I realized all that she had done for me. Every night, there was dinner, homemade and hot, ready for us to eat together. She spent her weekends cleaning our house, sewing clothes and making homemade cookies. Every single Halloween, I had a homemade costume. When it was time for college, I went away to a university that she had been saving for my entire life.

I never knew that while I felt like she was missing out, she did it all for me. Every single thing she did—every afternoon away, every overnight trip she took was for us. She worked so hard to provide a home for us, filled with everything we could need. She excelled professionally and was truly one of a kind.

Shortly before she died, she told my brother that we shouldn’t be like her and that work wasn’t everything. As a mom myself, I am grateful for all that she did, and I have learned from her to find a balance. I’ve learned that you can be successful at work and still there for your kids. I work to find the balance she felt was lacking and work hard but still leave time to play. It isn’t always easy, but the joy that it brings both me and my sons is worth it.

To my mom—I see you. I see every sacrifice you made, everything you did for me. I see you, I appreciate you and I work every day to make you proud. Thank you for all that you were and all that you’ve made me. I hope someday my boys will admire me as much as I admire you.

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Jessica Tyler

Jessica is originally a Midwesterner, born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. After moving around a bit, she settled in Colorado with her family. She lives with her husband, Jeff, and sons William and Benjamin. In her free time, she attempts to be outdoorsy, loves to cook, read and drink wine. You can find her on her blog, I Dream of Naptime.