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imagesFirst, and most important, I love you guys. Of course I have great memories and lots of pictures of the days you were born; preschool, high school, and college graduations; birthdays; vacations; dance and music recitals; sports; proms; and all the milestones of the growing-up years. I have attempted to fill photo albums with your lives. Honestly, they are pretty tacky. That’s no surprise since we all know scrapbooking is not one of my strong suits. More recently, I’ve started making slide shows of my digital shots, although it is slow and laborious for me. No, it’s not the technology. It might surprise you that I actually have that somewhat under control. My problem is that I keep hampering my progress to savor the memories and, subsequently, hunting for a tissue.

Although we have succeeded in capturing the major moments of your lives, I hold even dearer the remarkable times that Hallmark hasn’t yet dedicated to a card campaign. I think of you, Bill, asking me where you should go to college…when you were two. “Honey, let’s get you to preschool first!” But, that was the theme of your life – always ready for the next chapter before I got past the table of contents. And, Christie, with your gentle approach to life and recognizing the need to live and let live you taught me to slow down and recognize the beauty in a situation. Two children with opposite, yet equally amazing, approaches to life.

You see, neither of you came with an owner’s manual. It’s probably a good thing! It would have scared the tar out of me to read ahead about what to do for chicken pox, ear infections, visits to the principal’s office, adolescent drivers, broken hearts and all of the crazy twists life sent your way. It was far better to experience each day for what it was and worry about the ‘stuff’ when and if something occurred.

The lack of instructions also meant I wasn’t prepared for the last bedtime story. When did that happen? I don’t even remember what book it was. When was the last time I held your hand to keep you safe in the parking lot? When did I stop sewing cute little dresses or spend the afternoon outside while you played in the sandbox and on the fort? When did you stop arguing over Happy Meals at McDonald’s or the special toy at Burger King? Or when was the last time you crawled in my lap for hugs and snuggles while we watched TV? In the thick of your growing up, some events passed right on by, unnoticed until I looked back and realized you both became adults…compassionate, honest, independent, responsible citizens…all that I could have hoped for. Yet, I am afraid I blinked several times too many, allowing you to shoot into the next stage before I knew what was really happening.

I remember shopping one day and hearing the store’s pianist playing “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof.

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

Yes, you guessed it. I had to leave the mall before I made a scene.

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to say thank-you to you, my beautiful children. You have challenged me, stretched me, honored me, and loved me – even when I didn’t fully understand that you were the only ones who couldn’t do something that everyone else’s mothers let them do. You gave me the opportunity to discover how to function with very little sleep; to hear playful activities over the hum of the shower; how to stock my car with hand wipes, spot cleaner, kleenex, napkins, trash bags, snacks and 100 other items you may need on any given outing; and to organize schedules so everyone got to where they needed to be on time – which is no easy feat for someone who has never respected the clock.

More importantly, you taught me to care about someone’s life and well being more than my own and to love unconditionally. And, for that, I cannot tell you how thankful I am.

You see, children are indeed a gift from God. I don’t care if they are your own, nieces and nephews or the kids next door. Children challenge us to think creatively and to question why things are done the way they are. They help us to see frogs and flowers and mud puddles. They remind us that the world is a beautiful and amazing place for us to touch, taste, smell, hear and see God’s presence threaded throughout all that is. I love, even today, experiencing life through your eyes. You challenge me to rethink old notions and thoughts; to hike on muddy, rocky paths…both in reality and metaphorically; and to embrace all that life has to offer. I am deeply grateful for that, too.

So, on this day, thank-you for the flowers and the dinner. Thank you for the phone calls and the “I love you’s”. But, most of all, thank you for the memories and the assurance that we will continue to navigate this crazy thing called “life” together.