Dear Mom,

As I sit here writing this, my little boy is snoozing in the baby carrier on my back. I can feel his deep breath against the back of my neck and his warm arms draped over my shoulders. I am so lucky to be here experiencing this moment and so grateful as I look back on the years you spent as my at-home mama.

I grew up a student of your “mommy school” instead of attending pre-K.

We took field trips to the dump. Being permitted, no, *trusted,* to roll our full bags of garbage over the railing was an amazing thrill. We stopped at nearly every playground we came across. Visits to the library were frequent and you taught me to read well before kindergarten. When “real” school began, you always put me on the bus in the morning and were there when I got home in the afternoon.

You taught me to read.

You taught me to find the adventure in every situation.

(Seriously, the dump was the greatest.)

You taught me that a cup of tea and conversation are the height of personal interaction. You taught me that family is the top priority, but to never forget about myself in the process. You taught me to work hard for what I wanted and always be grateful to those who offered support along the way. You taught me that being silly is easier and so much more fun than stressing the small stuff.

By teaching me these little things, you taught me to be a mother.

My college roommate recalls the first time she met me soon after we moved into the dorm. We were discussing our majors and plans for the future and when she asked me what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do with my life, I told her, “I want to be a mother.”

I finished my degree, worked in the professional world for nearly 10 years, and waited until baby number three to make the ultimate career change to full-time mama. You raised seven kids and then, over the course of nearly 10 years and many night classes, earned your associate’s, bachelor’s and finally your master’s in education. You became a kindergarten teacher, of course, and went on to illuminate the lives of hundreds of kids as the most fun and crazy teacher they loved to come back and visit.

You always knew who you were, and because of that I’ve always known who I am and what I’ve wanted.

This life at home with the kiddos is exactly what I want.

Thank you, mama.