To all the women who raised me . . . 

To you first, Grandma, the one who taught me I have a voice and I should never be afraid to use it. You told me stories about growing up poor, being judged for what you didn’t have and working hard to make a better life. You lit a fire inside of me with your words and they’ve made me want to make this world a better place ever since. I will never forget your arms holding me tightly singing softly “you are my sunshine” because in that place is where I always felt at home.

I hope now that my children feel that same love from me—it made all the difference in my life. 

To my college professor, one who stood about 5ft tall but was one of the strongest women I have ever met. I wanted to be just. like. you. Your passion. Your drive. You were changing the world, living a life of purpose and writing your own rules.

Because of you I believed I could make my own waves, fearless and free with endless possibilities.

To the woman who I swear is an angel on earth, you give your life to God and your profound impact in this world will carry on well after you are gone. You never had children of your own, but you are a mother to so many, including me. You’ve always had the words to calm the storm and I have never met a gentler soul.

You see the best in everyone, and I only wish I could view the world as you do—maybe someday.

To my work mom, who was probably more of a sister but guided me in ways that rescued me from the deepest water. When I was a first-time working mom, you shared your same feelings of guilt and struggles. You calmed my nerves when I became unexpectedly pregnant with our second child, you were in fact the first person I told. You are the woman always fixing the others’ crowns, raising them up and encouraging them to reach farther than they believe they can grab. You looked across at me the day I told you I needed to leave to be home with my family and you assured me that was exactly where I should be. A year later when I felt lost in this new chapter, you filled my soul and helped me remember my worth.

Because of you, I know there is a value working inside the walls of your home—and outside.

Lastly, to the woman who was only 20 years old when she held that small baby in her arms. Who was a single mother with hopes and dreams, trying to find her own way. Maybe that is why you’ve made some of the decisions you have, maybe it’s why we haven’t always seen eye to eye. You’ve made the biggest impact on me as a wife, as a mother, as a woman. Yes, because of you I fear things a little more, I worry a little greater. But because of you, I wanted to work hard to graduate college and follow my dreams. Because of you, I met the most amazing man who happened to see past all I wasn’t and loved me for all I was. Because of you, I sing to them in the car while we are driving down the road. Because of you, we make May Day baskets and pick up donuts for class on a whim. Because of you, I want to take them to Disney World and spend too much money on mouse ears and character breakfasts. Thank you for all you were and all you weren’t. Thank you for all you did and all I know you wanted to but couldn’t. I hope that someday my kids can look at me the way I look at you. I hope they can see I was human, and I was always trying my best. That they take my faults and make them lessons learned. That they take the good pieces and make them even better for their own families.

You may think you have failed me in many ways, but Mom, you taught me in many more. 

To all the women who raised me. To all the women who were put into my life exactly when I needed them most. Who inspired me. Who held me up. Who filled me up. Who wanted to see me rise.

To the women who remind me daily to give myself grace because I deserve that and so much more.

To the women who have shared little pieces of themselves with me so I would feel less alone.

To the ones who know that perfection is overrated and are not afraid to share their fears.

To the women who know that we are all in this together.

Thank you will never be enough, but I will spend my life trying to pay it forward. 

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Kayla Friehe

Kayla Friehe is a wife and mother of two young boys. She loves wine, chocolate, and binge watching Netflix-- sometimes all at once. In her spare time she enjoys blogging about motherhood and day dreaming of sleep.