I won't pretend that my childhood was perfect because we certainly weren't in competition with the Leave it to Beaver household. However, there was always food on the table, a perfectly good roof over our heads and bundles of clothes to wear, even if some of them were hand-me-downs. We all went to a private Catholic school until we were ready (wanted to) transfer to the public school. We grew up in a very small town, but it was safe and there were always after-school activities to keep us occupied. In the summer, there were two local parks, a swimming pool and occasional trips to amusement parks.
As a six person family, we didn't go out to eat much or go on vacations, but they also weren't things that I thought about or really longed to do. We would often have cookouts in our backyard during the summer months. There were many neighborhood kids that became our playmates, or in the case of Missy M., our enemies. Ok, she was just my enemy, but my dad always backed me up on that one.
Through all of this, my mom was always there for us. She made sure we ate something before we left for school, packed our lunches and had a good meal waiting for us when we returned home. My mom only worked part time until I was in third grade, but the house was always clean and she made sure that we did all of our chores so we could get our allowance.
During my teenage years, I was the only child left living at home and I'd be crazy if I told you that I got along with my parents during this tumultuous time. We screamed at each other, we made each other cry, we spend days not even talking to each other. But, in the end, I always knew that my parents loved me.
My mom helped me fill out my college applications. She gave me rides to and from my boyfriend's house. She made sure that I had a nice prom dress. She paid for me to get my hair cut. She came and picked me up from school when I was sick. She convinced my dad to let me get my driver's license (finally!).
After I went away to college, my mom always made sure that my loan applications were filled out on time. She made sure that I always had money on my meal card. When I came home for a weekend, she always washed my clothes for me and cooked me some tasty meals.
Even today, my mom knows not to call me right after my football team loses. She knows just went to send me something in the mail that makes me smile. She comes to my apartment and cleans my kitchen and even puts up with my cats.
I don't ever want to take my mom for granted again, but I know that I will. I know that I'll go home some weekend and forget to make the bed when I leave and that I won't hear a peep about it. I know that she'll continue to send me the perfect birthday card and comfort me when I'm sad. I know that I'll always be in her thoughts and I know that she'll love me forever.