As a kid, I always thought Mother’s Day was kind of stupid. After all, you have a birthday. Why did we need a special holiday to honor you being our mom?

Now, my feelings about Mother’s Day are still a bit ambivalent, but it’s mainly because the holiday just seems so trivial stacked up against the legacy of motherhood. It doesn’t feel like enough.

How can I boil down a lifetime of gratitude and love into a card and some flowers, maybe even a nice brunch? I can’t, and that’s never been more clear since becoming a mom myself.

Nothing wakes up you up to the all-encompassing, overwhelming job of motherhood like having kids of your own.

Mom, you always seemed to know what you were doing. It’s only now that I realize every mom is basically winging it, learning as she goes and trying to make the best decisions she can.

You always seemed so confident. It’s only now that I realize every mom is trapped in a constant battle with doubt. Am I doing enough? Is everyone OK now? Will everyone be OK later?

You always seemed to balance it all so well. You juggled work, meals, sports, classes, and activities—not just for us, but for our friends, as well. It’s only now that I realize what a feat that is, how shouldering all of that responsibility can some days feel like it might break you.

Now that I’ve embarked on this overwhelming journey for myself, I realize that the only thing I could ever say on Mother’s Day, or any day, is “thank you”.

Thank you for always loving me.

Thank you for always supporting me.

Thank you for secretly loathing my enemies but always encouraging me to do the kind thing.

Thank you for encouraging me to do my best, but also giving me a soft place to land when my best wasn’t good enough.

Thank you for doing your best, even when it was hard. Even when it was scary. Even when you didn’t know what to do.

Thank you for mothering me still, as I learn to navigate motherhood for myself, with all its twists and turns, challenges, and uncertainties.

The truth is, a good mom is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I see its dividends everywhere. There’s not a moment I’ve lived that hasn’t been covered by God’s grace and steeped in your love.

You’re celebrating another Mother’s Day without your own mom, and I hate that for you. Still, one thing I’ve learned is that the gift of a good mom never stops giving, even long after your mom stops living.

I see the impact of your great mom in my life the same way my kids are seeing your impact in theirs. It is a legacy I hope to continue with my own grandchildren.

As a child, I didn’t know everything that you did, and I certainly didn’t always appreciate it, but today, please consider these words my lifetime of “thank you”.

Thank you for everything I never even realized you did.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 Originally published on the author’s blog

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Charissa West

Charissa West is a high school classroom teacher turned stay-at-home, work-at-home mother. When she is not busy chasing around her three young sons, she works as an online teacher and freelance writer. She shares her honest, sarcastic, hilarious thoughts on parenting on her blog, The Wild, Wild West, with the goal of helping moms laugh at anything motherhood may throw at them.