Mom, I honestly don't know how you raised five kids. I really don't. I have three children (as you are well aware) and sometimes it feels like I have 30 children. So does that mean it felt like you had 50 children when we were little…?
I don't know how you gave birth five times.
I don't know how you kept track of five children at the store. Or at the ballpark. Or at the library. Or anywhere, TBH.
I don't know how you changed So. Many. Diapers in your lifetime.
I don't know how you signed us all up and carted us all around to basketball, softball, soccer, Irish-step-dancing, friend's houses, and after-school student council meetings.
I don't know how you got us all dressed and ready for church every single Sunday.
I don't know how you managed five very different personalities and five different levels of hormones and tantrums and disagreements and feelings.
I don't know how you dealt with all the noise that five children can bring (let's just say we did our fair share of fighting and bickering.)
I don't know how you made time for friendship, staying involved in your best girlfriends' lives. There was always so much to do with us and for us—I truly applaud you making time for your girls. Now that I'm a mom too, I'm so glad you did. I know it's not easy.
I don't know how you brushed and styled four daughters' hair 'do's. And you had to put rollers in our hair for Irish-step-dancing competitions! How?!
I don't know how you got us all dressed and off to the mall to meet Santa and get our picture taken. I don't know how you got five Easter baskets and treats to fill them down to Florida or South Carolina when we were visiting grandparents. I don't know how you remembered, every year, to make us birthday ribbons with the right number of candy or gum taped on to match how old we were.
I don't know how you packed for all of us when we went to visit our cousins in Ireland. I don't know how you painted little shamrocks with "The Mescall Trip To Tipp" above them for us to all wear on the plane together. I don't know how you took us to the Bronx Zoo or Adventureland every year without a major panic attack about losing one of us.
I don't know how you've listened to all of our many wild ideas and creative stories that came out of our imaginations (without looking bored!). Maybe you felt bored sometimes, but honestly, we couldn't tell if you were.
I don't know how you've attended five weddings to watch your children marry the loves of their lives without totally losing it.
Even though I don't quite know these things, what I do know is that you're amazing. And that you've taught me so much. That you've given me so much. That you mean so much to me.
You've given birth five times yourself, and you've been at six of your daughter's births. You've supported us, prayed for us, and cheered us on.
You've kept track of all of us so well that you never lost any of us. (That I know of…) And you've been there for us through the ups and downs of teenage years into adulthood so much so that you never let us lose ourselves either.
You've probably changed a million of your five children's diapers, yet you still offer to change my children's diapers.
You've modeled for us a strong sense of faith. And even though we were often late for church (not due to you at all, but due only to the rest of us), you got us there. The spirituality I have today, that I share with my children, is largely due to you.
You've given us the gift of each other. The friendship I share with each of my four siblings is invaluable. I'm so lucky to count them as part of my village.
You've shown patience and a wonderful sense of humor throughout our lives. Sure you may have yelled a time or two ( ), but you've always been an open door, allowing us to come to you with anything we've needed to. And you've always been able to make us laugh.
You've kept your friends high on your list of priorities for years and years. So much so that your friends from over 30 years ago are still your dear friends today. My strong, long-lasting female friendships are because I've learned from you.
You've had to brush so many knots out and endure so many "that hurts, Mom!" curler-taking-out tears, but you've always cared for us so lovingly. You let us climb into bed with you when we were scared. You have held our hands when we've needed it most. You've held our babies when we've needed a break. You've dried our tears when there was no one else who could. You've hugged away so much pain and doubt—five children's worth in fact.
You've probably (unfortunately) had to go through So. Much. Stress with holiday planning and vacation magic making and packing and traveling hours upon hours on road trips. But, Mom? You and Dad have given us the best memories of adventures growing up. They were never boring and they were always worth it.
You've heard at least 100 different book ideas from me, let alone all the other ideas you've heard from my siblings, too. You have never doubted that I could write and would write and that's something I will never, could never forget. Every time I shared an idea, you were right there saying—"You better write that down for the book one day!"
You've married off all five of your children. And… okay, okay, you may have "lost it" a little each time (I mean, weddings are emotional), you did so with grace and enthusiasm. You love our partners as if they were your own children and that means the world to us.
So, Mom, I need to say this.
You birthed five babies, then parented us through toddlerhood, taught us through childhood, helped us through teenage life, guided us through college and beyond, and essentially raised five successful, happy adults.
You are really, really impressive.
Oh and—should I go for number four, or just keep it at three? Tell me the truth.