A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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How 3 generations of women created a clothing busines that celebrates textiles—and tradition

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What does it take to go from business idea to lady boss?


This new column features an entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality.

If you missed our last article featuring Lorene from Glitter and Spice, a teething jewelry company with wicked growth, on how testing and prototyping helped her hack her success, you can read it here. This week, we’re discussing the third step every entrepreneur needs to make on her journey: Building a supply chain.

This week brings something special: Two generations of lady bosses, a mother and daughter, working together to create a business that’s uniquely theirs.

Cynthia Bennett, and her daughter Meera Bennett, have created Devon’s Drawer, a children’s clothing line that combines old school whimsy with high-quality craftsmanship, while honoring the working families their company employs.

With looks like that, what’s not to love?

Cynthia has a long personal and professional history with textiles; she learned the art of clothing design from her mother, great-aunt, and grandmother, and has a degree in Costume History and Textile Arts.

Her daughter Meera works on marketing and communications within Devon’s Drawer.

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Devon’s Drawer (named after Cynthia’s grandson, Devon), began four years ago when Cynthia went home to take care of her own mother.

It was there Cynthia discovered a closet chock full of the most beautiful clothing. There were wool dresses from the 1950’s and 60’s, sequined cashmere sweaters made in Hong Kong, and custom made dresses made by local dress makers. The fabric, the textures, the quality of craftsmanship stunned her. It was a type of beauty that was missing from the current world of throwaway fashion.

And it inspired a children’s clothing company based on the values of timeless quality (and adorable styling.)

What began as up-cycling items for her grandson has grown into a brand that values quality over quantity, and clothing that tells its own story, woven through the very fibers of the fabric.

And from the inspiration of Cynthia’s mother’s wardrobe to dressing little Devon—That’s three generations represented in the business, if you’re counting.

Isn’t that magical?

Today, Devon’s Drawer is carried in a dozen retail locations across North America. The brand is cherished for its beautiful fabrics, unique cuts, and commitment to ethically produced products. This year their sales are projected to grow by 40% over last year—powerful stuff, especially considering the business began with zero startup capital.

I chatted with Meera and Cynthia about how and why they created the brand, and the work that was involved in creating a supply chain they could be proud of—

What does Devon’s Drawer do/make?

Cynthia: We make children’s clothes and we use natural fabrics to do so.

Meera: My mom does all the design, and I’d say she does most of the grunt work. I help with the branding and communications. But my mom’s clothing line was really inspired by her family. She had to fly home about five years ago because her mother was sick. She started finding all these beautiful baby clothes –

Cynthia: No! It was her clothes! In her closet! Not baby clothes.

Meera: Right. So then she started using them as inspiration for making clothes for my son, Devon. Now I have two kids: Devon, and then Emily who just turned one. But back then it was just Devon.

Cynthia: I had already decided a long, long time ago to design clothing for women. But it got really complicated, really quickly, and I couldn’t find the balance. Meera was a young baby at the time and it was really hard. After a couple of years I just couldn’t find a way to make it work. At that time I lived on Saltspring Island, which was two ferry rides from Vancouver.

Meera: Mom was a total back-to-the-land hippie.

Cynthia: And, Vancouver didn’t even have a design scene back then, so I was literally doing this on my own. And I had NO idea what I was doing. So at that time I said, “I’m choosing motherhood.”

These days there’s a lot more information out there for starting a business. As well, I was really young, and back then I didn’t have the “Why?” at that point.

Did the two of you start the business together?

Cynthia: Well Meera was the one who kept telling me that I should be doing this. She was there from the beginning, along with my other kids, but she’s really come into the foreground in the last year. She’s worked hard to create a warm voice for Devon’s Drawer that had been missing.

When your company

needs to grow, what do you look for in a good fit employee?

Cynthia: Somebody has to really get what we’re doing, and

they have to have the right skillset. For example for us, we make wool coats,

and sewing woolens is a dying art because most people these days like to make

clothing out of knits. They also have to LOVE the stuff. They have to take pride

in their work, and want to share in our success. We are looking to create a

real connection with our employees.

We are looking to create a real connection with our employees.

We spend a lot of time together so we have to not only enjoy

each other’s company, but also work efficiently together.

Communication both verbal and written is actually huge as

well. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s not. With things being so fast

moving, and me travelling often, understanding each other becomes a priority.

Meera: The other thing I’ve really noticed with those who

you’ve created a long-term working relationship with, mom, is that you guys

really build a community with Devon’s Drawer. They’re really invested in your

success, and you’re likewise invested in their success. You’re both building

each other up.

Cynthia: Absolutely. Community is really important in

everything we do. Our employees are part of our community. It’s not a one-way

street.

What are all the

components of your supply chain, and how does everything fit together?

Cynthia: For me, the biggest focus is the actual fabric, and

I spend a lot of time, more than I should, on sourcing fabric. Because for me,

that’s where the inspiration for the pieces comes from.

My background is in textile history actually so where the

fabric comes from is a priority for me. So if I’ve got someone who’s doing

organics, I have to know where it comes from, who grew the cotton, and where is it

being processed, all the way through.

I like to work with people who have more vertical supply chains so I feel confident about the fabric.

To me that’s key. It’s the basis of what we do, and in fact,

“the Why” of what we do. The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters

of the planet. I could go on about this topic but I won’t.

I spend a lot of time on buttons, too. Where are they from?

What country? If they’re made of shells - how were those shells collected?

Meera: Were shells are happy? Did they have friends?

Cynthia: And sometimes plastic is a better option! It’s

true! I spend a lot of time trying to balance it all out.

Meera: You spend endless time sourcing fabric mom, but I

feel like once the fabric gets to you that your supply chain is fairly tightly

integrated. You have the fabric arrive in LA, have it dyed in LA, then it goes

to your factory, also in LA. And then they ship it from the factory.

Cynthia: Yes. There’s also a couple of other things that

have to come together before the pieces head to the factory for manufacturing.

First we have the patterns. The idea for the pattern goes from me to the

pattern maker, and then we test out that piece. Then, it gets graded – which

means sized. Once that’s completed then everything gets cut, again here in LA. Meera’s

right; once everything’s here in California, it does all get done in a two mile

radius. It’s a huge unique point for us.

Meera: It’s really important to us to have pieces that are,

as much as possible, made close to home.

Cynthia: It’s funny; it’s sometimes like a game of

telephone, you know the children’s game? Every time you let go of something and

let someone do something for you, they add their own little bit. So I’ve kept

it really tight because I don’t want things to vary to any large degree. Like,

a quarter inch difference on a collar, on a kid, makes a huge difference.

What would you say is the biggest difficulty in creating and sustaining your supply and manufacturing?

Cynthia: It actually has a lot to do with confidence. I need to have confidence in my work, all the way through the process, and not give up on my vision. Several times I’ve had the thought, “Oh they must know more than I know.”

So my biggest difficulty is believing in myself, while not being stubborn. It’s a fine line.

What process do you take to vet your suppliers and manufacturers?

Cynthia: I look to see what work they’ve done. And instead of going on what they say, I call up their other customers and ask them about their experience. Because people tend to tell you whatever they think you want to hear.

I want to know if they were reliable, if they were on time, and equally as important, how did they treat you, as a contract? How was their communication, and how organized were they?

I have to make sure they’ve worked with people that I respect.

Meera: And I know one more thing you really look for is having everything made in America as much as you can.

Have you ever had any major manufacturing disasters?

Cynthia: We had a problem with one of our coats last year and didn’t notice until one of our stockists mentioned that there was something wrong. I really respected him—the store owner—and he sent the coats back. We looked into them when we received them back and the sewers had sewn the collars on a quarter of an inch off. That makes a huge difference on a child’s coat.

My production manager wanted to know if I would continue to do business with that particular store and the answer was, of course, yeah! He spent a lot of time going back and forth. He really worked through the issue with me. Those are the type of partnerships I’m looking for. He’s basically at the end of my supply chain, but so essential to our success.

How important would you say confidence is in creating a product line and starting your own business?

Cynthia: It’s really, really important. And there’s a really fine line between confidence and vanity project. I can’t tell you which we are yet.

Someone said to me recently, “That sounds like a wonderful creative outlet.” And it’s not. It’s not a creative outlet, it’s a business, that happens to be creative.

The confidence I have in my design is there. The confidence I have in developing a business is there. But I can’t do it alone, and that’s where community comes in.

My kids are the closest I have to remembering what I said when I’m feeling less confident. They remind me of where I am going, and what the company is about.

Meera: As an entrepreneur, you will get told “No.” over and over and over again. But sometimes people say yes.

Mom: As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly creating your own world.

How does being a mother impact the way you run your business?

Meera: It’s made me much better at multi-tasking. Although sometimes I worry that I’m too good at it and I’m doing too many things at the same time – not putting enough attention on any one thing. I feel like I’m doing a lot of things off the side of my desk. Which is good and bad!

And the other thing is, that being a mom has given me a lot more sympathy towards other moms that I’m working with.

I understand if people don’t get back to me right away for example – I get it.

Cynthia: I’ve been a mom for so long now! I remember when I was at Meera’s stage, multitasking all the time. I found that now I really enjoy doing one thing at a time. I got so into multi-tasking at one point that I almost couldn’t do anything unless I was doing ten things at once.

Now because I don’t have kids at home any more I’m finding it really great to be able to focus on one thing at a time.

I also have a lot of empathy for people who have working families. I know what that’s like.

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring lady bosses?

Meera: Mom and I were talking about this question before the interview and kind of laughing about it.

Because if we can do it, I think literally anyone can.

My mom made all of our clothing growing up, so she already had the skills. But she had zero start up capital. She had an idea of what she wanted to do, but she had no money to do it. So she got very clear about her vision that she wanted for the business early on. She had to!

So I think anyone can do it, but you need to have a very clear vision of what you want. There’s going to be so many things that could potentially sidetrack you.

Cynthia: I agree. Having a very clear vision, and maybe, don’t quit your day job until you have to. At one point you’re going to be so crazy busy that you can afford to let that job go. But at the start you’ll need some way of funding your vision.

For me, it took a long time to come to the “Why.” I’m not talking about superficial things. I mean really - Why do this as opposed to anything else? Knowing that early on is important.


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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

Pregnancy has taught me so much—about myself, my body and my marriage.

It has proven that I can handle much more than I've ever given myself credit for—mentally, physically and emotionally.

It has shown me that I am brave. The thought of getting a human out of your body in any way, shape or form can be...well, terrifying. But it must be done. And I did it. Twice.

It helped me discover how strong and capable my body is. What our bodies do to accommodate these little humans growing inside of us is totally wild and impressive—to say the least.

It deepened my love for my husband, the father of my children, in unimaginable ways. (I guess creating a baby together can do that to you.)

Pregnancy has given me two of the most precious gifts of my life.

And I'll deliver one more this fall.

My daughters are my heart and my world. They are these wonderful, awe-inspiring, creative, strong, intelligent humans. I don't know how we did it, my husband and I, but we made some good ones. And I thank my lucky stars every single day for these children.

Pregnancy and I have had our ups and downs, but (luckily) mostly ups.

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I've experienced pregnancy by surprise (twice!) and I've experienced it in a planned, scheduled manner (once!). Both are exciting and nerve-wracking. Seeing those two little pink lines or the word 'pregnant' appear (because, let's be honest, I've taken about 5,729 different types of pregnancy tests at this point) is a mind-blowing experience.

Pregnancy has given me migraines, exhaustion, nausea, gestational diabetes and backaches. It's shown me that I can survive without spicy crunchy tuna rolls and red wine for 40 weeks. And that I can still sleep (...kinda) without my favorite stomach-sleeping-position.

But oh! What wonderful, miraculous experiences pregnancy has also given me.

Sure—there are challenges with pregnancy. 100%. Some women experience extreme nausea throughout their entire pregnancy, some women have to go on bed rest, some women have preeclampsia, some women have bleeding scares, all pregnant women watch their bodies grow and change, and handle it in different ways—there are lots of ups and downs.

Pregnancy isn't for the weak.

But even with the challenges and the 'rules'—there has been nothing like experiencing the miracle of creating and growing another human inside my body.

It will never, ever cease to amaze me.

Feeling those first kicks is absolute magic. ✨

Celebrating the first sign of your baby bump is so, so exciting.

Wearing those first few maternity outfits is...interesting.

Talking about potential names is wild and let's be honest—also challenging. I mean...agreeing on a name is really hard!

Hearing your baby's heartbeat for the first time just about makes yours explode.

Seeing your future son or daughter at each sonogram is truly humbling.

Prepping the nursery and nesting is satisfying. ✔️

Letting go of fears and getting ready to welcome your baby into the world is e v e r y t h i n g.

And knowing when your family is complete is...a bit...confusing.

My husband and I have talked about this baby being our last. That once she is here, our family will be complete. It feels right to us. But it also feels final. It feels like I am 100% ready for this to be my last pregnancy. But it also feels crazy thinking about never being pregnant again.

I've been feeling so many big emotions accepting that this really could be it for me. It's strange, but I have this unexplainable feeling in my heart that three is the right amount of children for our family.

I am sad and happy and relieved and confused and excited and scared—all in one jumbled mix of emotions. (WARNING: Motherhood involves ALL the feels.)

I'm trying to appreciate every moment of this pregnancy all while mourning the inevitable closing of this chapter in my life.

These feelings are hard to process, but I know I will be at peace with it soon. I'm looking toward my future with my heart wide open, ready to welcome our third baby into our family and focus on what I do have, not what I may never have again.

One year ago, a video brought parents around the world to tears on World Down Syndrome Day. It's been viewed almost 5.5 million times since then, and the message behind it is still gaining momentum today. The Carpool Karaoke style video was produced by a parent-led Down Syndrome awareness organization called Wouldn't Change a Thing as a way to show people that families dealing with Down syndrome are just families like any family raising children.

In the video 50 moms from the UK and their 4-year-old kids sing along to 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perri (aka the Twilight theme). It's a song about love, and it couldn't be a more perfect soundtrack for this group of mamas, who use a simplified form of sign language, Makaton, to amplify their message in the video.

Regardless, the 50 moms were a little shocked (but happy) to see their video go as viral as it did. "We definitely wanted everyone to see it," one of the mothers, Rebecca Carless told the BBC. "The idea is, we are just normal mums, we love our kids, they love us, and they are just like other 4-year-olds, we wouldn't change them."


This year, Wouldn't Change a Thing created another musical number to raise awareness about the lives of kids with Down syndrome.

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This one is set to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" and shows the kids just being kids and having fun. It has already racked up nearly 40,000 views as of this writing.

These kids are clearly so very loved, and the parents behind these videos want the world to know it every day, but especially on World Down Syndrome Day.

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Many families travel for vacations and family events, especially in the summer months. Taking trips with children has many variables to consider, but one that many parents worry about is their little one's nap schedule while on vacation.

You certainly don't want to resort to staying home and give up all of those potential memories to be made. Instead, devise a plan ahead of time and then be open to going with the flow once you arrive at your destination. You can always get back on track when you get home.

Here are a few questions to consider before leaving for vacation:

Does your child sleep well in the car?

If they do, then you should plan your travel time so they can nap for part of the car, train or plane ride. Or, some families decide to travel late at night so their child sleeps for the majority of the trip. However, if your child does not usually sleep well in the car then don't fool yourself into thinking this trip will be different. In that case, travel right after they wake up, dress them comfortably, and plan to keep them entertained if they won't sleep.

Can you break your journey into segments with stops along the way?

The longer your child is in that car seat, the more likely they are to become upset and struggle to fall asleep when you need them to. Planning a few breaks can give them the exercise and exploring they need to be able to nap later. If you are traveling on an airplane or a train, you can plan to use the aisles for walks occasionally.

When they have trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar place

Once again, preparation is so important when it comes to getting your child to nap in an unfamiliar place. You will not be able to use the exact routines that work for you at home, but try to follow much of your usual routine to create a similar sleep environment for your child.

If your little one sleeps in a crib at home, bring along a portable folding crib.

You can even let your child sleep in that portable crib at home ahead of time so that it becomes familiar. Pack your child's usual blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, white noise, lullaby music, and night lights.

If your little one sleeps with you, create a safe sleeping place for your child in the new location.

Check out the room where you will be sleeping and rearrange as needed. Check to see if you can push the bed against the wall or replace heavy bedding to make things safer. (Always move things back the way that they were before you leave.) If you are staying at a hotel, many are understanding and accommodating. And they may even help with these type of arrangements.

Daily cues are another important factor when it comes to daily naps, and these are the things that often change while on vacation.

Try to serve meals of familiar foods at regular times, expose your child to normal daylight in the morning and dimly lit activities at night, avoid the pre-bed wrestling matches or ice cream treats. All of these small things can help keep nap-time and bedtime more regular and restful.

If you are traveling out of your time zone, you will need to be patient and aware of this transition.

It is a good idea to switch to the new time zone once you arrive at your destination because powerful biological cues also shift, such as the timing of meals & naps. Make sure that your child stays well-fed and well-hydrated and avoid letting them nap longer than they typically do. Don't over-schedule your first few days if at all possible.

It's important to be flexible! If your child naps well in a stroller or on a beach blanket, then let that happen. When away from home, always do what works best for everyone.

No matter what you do, it will take a few days to adjust to a new rhythm so it is important to be sensitive and flexible with these changes.

Originally posted on Elizabeth Pantley.

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My sweet child,

You wake up every morning with the same struggles as us all. Sometimes you're grumpy, sometimes you're just too tired to be happy, but you're always kind. That's just how you are. Even when you're sick, you're more worried about how others are feeling than yourself.

You see, you're tired in the morning because even though you were exhausted the night before, you stayed up talking to yourself about things and going over conversations in your head for the next day at school. I know because I hear you.

You told me you think about a lot of stuff before you fall asleep. You worry about others constantly, including what impression you'll make on others. You want to make sure that you'll say and do the right things, so no one gets upset with you. Because when someone is upset—especially with you—it hurts you deeply.

It stinks, baby, I know it stinks. It is so tiring to be so concerned with others and their feelings that you forget your own.

You're an old soul. You're caring and nurturing. You once gave weeds you had picked to a stranger outside of Walmart because "they looked sad," even though two minutes earlier you were having a meltdown. You quickly forgot that you were also upset because that man's sad face hurt you worse than melting down over a toy.

You let your cousins get the first pick of the prizes at Grandma's. You'd rather be last and get something you didn't want than to hurt someone's feelings. Because if they were sad, that would make you sadder.

I see you, sweet child.

In the front yard picking up shiny rocks from the driveway. They're for me, because you can tell I had a rough day. Your TV show can wait right now, you just want to make me feel better.

I feel you, sweet child.

When you see me laying on the couch and you cover me up and kiss my forehead. I'm not really asleep, you know—I'm watching you, studying you, listening to you—because it's the most beautiful thing I've ever encountered. Beautiful, yet dangerous in a way.

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Dangerous because I know what happens when a heart is too pure. When you care about the feelings of others more than your own. When you can read the emotions of others and feel them too. And I want you to know—although you should be loved and cared for because of your heart, not everyone has the same heart as you.

Not everyone is as loving and kind as you. Not everyone will give you the same love that you give them. Not everyone will appreciate you, and I never want you to be taken advantage of.

I wish I could protect you from anything bad, ever in the world—but the truth is, I can't. All I can do is show you that your deep empathy is a gift that can change the world. And you shouldn't be ashamed of it.

Recently, when I picked you up from school you told me a girl was saying ugly things to you, you said you just ignored her and you were okay, but I could tell you were sad about it. And that's okay.

I explained to you that everything and everyone doesn't deserve your energy (something that you taught me unknowingly), and if she is being unkind then it's because she doesn't feel very good about herself. You understood. You said maybe you can do something to make her feel better.

And that kills me.

It kills me because I'm helpless. I can't go everywhere with you and make sure no one is mean to you. I can't promise that you'll never be hurt or heartbroken. I can't save you from the world's coldness. But that kills me even more because you save me. Every day.

And I want to thank you for that. Thank you for saving me from… well, everything.

From depression. From anxiety. From my own mind attacking me. I get overwhelmed and you can tell. You know when I'm having an episode and I need a long tight hug. You can sense when something happened at work, so you make sure to tell me I'm "the best mom a girl could ever have." I want you to know that you're the reason I am here. You're the reason I keep pushing.

Your nurturing gives me what I need to cope and heal and move forward in life.

So… thank you, sweet girl.

For having a heart as pure as gold. For loving others and showing your empathy and kindness no matter what. For reading emotions and body language like a book. For always being there for me and others. For teaching me to be kind and see the beauty in all things. For showing me that I can get through this wild thing called life, as long as I have you.

I love you always,

Mom

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