This post is dedicated as a special tribute to moms all around who have shown me how to be sweet while stern, strong while vulnerable, capable in tough times and ultimately have shown me that you can do some pretty kick ass things all while rocking a husband, children and some pets.
To Ma: You are the epitome of a super woman. To raising three kids, while being a homeowner to two houses and working many jobs to get ahead and putting your three children in a bilingual school in Honduras, you did it all with such grace and strength. You are my role model, the woman who I hope to be, the woman who raised me and shared stories with me whenever I asked. How did I get so lucky to be your daughter and have you as a Mom? When we came to the States, you didn’t give up and become a housewife. You struggled during classes but you learned English while getting your Masters and eventually landing a decent paying job. Now, you are in the Netherlands and even from thousands of miles away, you still manage to teach me the importance things: that it’s never too late to start over, you are as old as you feel and it’s never too late to call your Mom as she has all the answers.
To my second Mom and Nanny:You took me into your home and loved me as one of your own. For the first time, I had a second family and I had a grandmom who was proud of my accomplishments. I grew up without grandparents but not anymore. I feel like family and I love coming by the house because I am so comfortable with all of you. Thank you for always being proud of me and for bringing up such an extraordinary daughter. Brittany turned out spectacular and accomplished. It is I who is lucky to call her my best friend. She has qualities from both of you and I love that she is a part of both of you. I wouldn’t be who I am without her so thank you both for raising such a strong woman and for taking me under your wings, your fierce momma bird wings.
To my sis, Laura: You are the peanut butter to my jelly, to my dance partner, my partner in crime and I need you like Spongebob needs Patrick. You are responsible for bringing me one of my greatest gifts and that gift is my nephew, Nate. I cried when you told me I was going to be an Auntie because I was so happy for you. And now, I just found out that you are going to be blessing me with another gift; a niece or nephew. You have supported me and been there in sickness and in health. You are my oldest and closest friend and I am so lucky to call you my sister. We might not have always been close but you were the person I looked up to growing up. And when you failed and failed big, you warned me and pushed me to make a different life for myself. I wouldn’t be in Africa if you hadn’t shown me I could stand on my own two capable happy feet.
To my sis-in-law, Emily: You came into our life to show us how to open up to other people and families without judgments. You gave me the gift of my niece, Dylan Toby and you taught me that it’s never too late to start a family. You also pushed me to make a conscious choice when I applied to Peace Corps and had a decision to make on what was most important to me: health or Africa. I wouldn’t be in Ethiopia and have changed student’s lives without your wisdom. I wouldn’t have felt so capable of being a teacher who works on health projects without your support. Most importantly, you are also responsible for being the light in my brother’s life. He is the man today because of you. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.
To Imme: My Ethiopian Mom who I cannot actually have a continuous conversation with but nonetheless, I love our small ways to find joy and laughter in our conversations. Thank you for taking care of me when I am down and thank you for watching out for me. You are one of the reasons that has made my service in Chiri spectacular and wonderful. Your children are so well-behaved and I think that’s in huge part to you. Coming home, I know I will be greeted with a big hug, a “selam nish” (how are you?), and a nice plate of injera with food. I grow incredibly sad when I think of having to say bye to you and my family in August and even so, when I can see you starting to tear up when you see me. You are a wonderful woman and I am privileged to be a part of your family.
To Momma Donna: You are the one responsible for bringing up an extraordinary man. A man who is so kind, generous and sweet to me. So in part, I have you to thank for that. He is who he is because he was loved by you. You are so hardworking and you taught Eddie to never give up. So, I just realized there are no photos of the two of us and I hope to fix that someday but I hope this picture helps to embody how grateful I am for you. After all, I have a weakness for your son.
I have such high regards for mothers who protect their loved ones, teach them right from wrong, teach their children to go after their dreams and show me all the big and small ways that make a great mom. So thank you for being you. I hope to embody the great mom you have all taught me to be. Keep rocking on.