“There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a great one.”

Jill Churchill

Growing up, I found that there were a lot of moments where my friends and I would talk about our Moms, and their superpowers. It was something we’d giggle about at sleepovers, during recess, etc, but we never really understood the depth of these ‘powers.’ While even at a young age, we recognized some truth to it, the concept was difficult to grasp in its entirety. For example, how could they always tell when we were lying to them? How did they know how we were feeling even when we didn’t express it to them with words? As we grew older, that feeling that our Moms are superheroes didn’t reduce. In fact, it only grew stronger. However, what we did start to realize together is that we would never completely know the secret until the day comes when we each have children of our own.

While I still can’t fully comprehend my Mom’s seemingly spot on intuition, I have learned to appreciate the lessons she’s taught me; not by preaching but rather, by example. There are a lot of wonderful things about my Mom; many which I initially took for granted. Years after my Mom graduated from the University of Georgia with her undergraduate degree though, is when I finally got a glimpse into who she is, and what she has offered the world (especially me) in terms of life lessons.

When my Mom was a student at UGA, she not only had her course load to worry about, but she was a full-time mother to two young children, a dutiful wife, and at times, an employee. Along with all of those daily responsibilities, she never complained as my father’s career moved us to three different states, and six different homes in those eight years. Instead, she vowed to herself that she would complete her degree in eight years, and regardless of what life storm came her way, she weathered it with immense grace, and gratitude.

Watching her develop a sense of self, and seeing her unleash her potential during those eight years served as a constant reminder to me while growing up that absolutely anything is possible with the right attitude, and work ethic. Even now, seeing her go through life with a smile on her face, regardless of what’s actually going on continues to inspire me to chase any dream that crosses my mind without worrying about how it’ll work out. The strength she possesses has me in awe of the woman I took for granted for so many years of my childhood, but no more. Here are the top three lessons I’ve learned from her during her grueling eight year journey that stick with me till this day:

  • Giving up is a choice, and so is sticking with it.

It’s easy to sit back and wait for life to happen to you, but it’s difficult to be an active participant in your life, especially when it isn’t going how you anticipated. My Mom has always had high hopes and dreams, and she desired to accomplish them even if it meant adjusting how they would ultimately play out. As a little girl growing up, she never pictured herself getting married and having children before being able to have her bachelor’s degree in hand, but the fact that the picture in her mind didn’t happen exactly like she thought it would didn’t stop her from pursuing her end goals. She made the choice to stick with her dreams. Each night when she got significantly less sleep than her classmates because of her crying children, she made the choice again to keep going. When she had to miss events because of studying, she actively made the choice to keep going. Every time she chose her dream, got her closer and closer to it until she achieved it. She never had to lecture me or my brother about the importance of making the choice never to give up, because we never saw her give up. In twenty three years, I have never seen my Mom give up on a dream or a passion of hers. I have only witnessed her putting in the blood, sweat, and tears required to make it her reality and that lesson alone showed me that she embodies a champion’s spirit.

  • Take the advice that is helpful, and respectfully ignore the advice that isn’t.

Since my Mom was in her mid to late twenties when she started college, there were people who didn’t understand why she was undertaking such a challenging feat, especially when she didn’t have to. Loved ones often broke down at the sight of her struggling trying to balance so many responsibilities that all shared the top priority. Some saw her dedication to multiple aspects of her life as stubbornness, and others just didn’t see the need to put herself through so much turmoil on a day to day basis.

While she had unlimited support from my father, she herself had an unmitigated desire to graduate and be a role model to her children. That desire is something she never forgot, and how she continues to live her life today. Even though our culture often over-emphasizes the importance of respecting and listening to elders, my Mom never let anyone dictate her life, even if she respected them with her whole heart. Observing that showed me that we all need to respect ourselves, and our hopes and dreams enough to take advice that will help us on our journeys, and to leave the advice that doesn’t.

  • Self-respect, and self-confidence is a game changer.

Sometimes we don’t recognize that creating goals and working towards them can really help us look at ourselves in a different light. My Mom always had certain skills and abilities that made her special, coupled with just a naturally high intelligence, but she didn’t see herself that way for a long time. It required her setting goals, achieving them, and setting new goals for her to find her spark. Now that she has, I know it won’t be going away anytime soon. Watching her find this self-love, respect, and confidence was exactly what I needed to try and live a life without regrets.

Growing up with my Mom by my side, but also simultaneously observing her grow into an individual more than a mother and a wife was a life-altering experience. It helped me see my Mom as the hero she is. So, today, on Mother’s Day hug your Mom if you can, because I’d do anything to hug mine. Look her in the eye and thank her, because she may have made multiple sacrifices over the years you know nothing about. Moms are the silent superheroes that are hardly thanked or appreciated like they should be, but they continue to guide us, protect us, and unconditionally love us anyway.

I know mine does. Thank you, Mom. Your dedication, heart, and sheer will to be the best version of yourself possible doesn’t go unnoticed.