Dearingest, darlingest, Momsie:
(but not Popsicle cause I didn’t think about this 3 weeks ago for your birthday – maybe next year!)
Happy Birthday! How does it feel to be 29 yet again? (you know, that’s already weird since your oldest kid is 34, but how weird is it gonna be to be 29 when I, your youngest, is older than that in just over 4 years?)
As you know, I am a loser and have not gotten you a birthday present yet. I will get you one soon, I promise! But until then, I have decided to write you a letter to express to you my love and gratitude.
Mom, you really are the perfect mother for me. Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when He sent me to you and Dad. You might have questioned His reasons when I was born and you found out I was a girl, instead of a boy like you really wanted. (I still remember hearing for the first time about this while we were in England and Dad read to me from his journal of when I was born. I can’t believe you told the doctors to put me back if I was a girl! But I forgive you, cause we both know I am way cooler than any boy ever could have been!) I like to think that I was sent to you for your benefit, but I definitely know I was for my own benefit. I have learned so much from you and I am forever grateful that you are mine.
Thank you for often reminding me of how much fun we had together when I was little. I don’t remember most of that time, but there are pictures and stories that remind me. I love that while you were cooking, you let me sit at your feet playing with the pots and pans. I remember being so excited when you would clear out that one cabinet so I could take a flashlight, a snack, and coloring stuff inside it and play while you did what you needed to in the kitchen. I was so sad when I grew too big to play in there. (And even more sad that cabinet no longer exists! Though I do love the new kitchen). I love that when I was in Joy School, you were one of the teachers, too. I remember the lesson we had at our house where we learned to tie our shoes. I got all the shoes out of the laundry room and put them in the living room. I wanted to know how to tie my shoes before everyone else got there, so you showed me how a few times on one of Dad’s work shoes and I sat there for what seemed forever practicing and practicing. I don’t know if I did learn before my friends got there, but I like to think that I did. I remember eating tuna fish sandwiches and cheetos for lunch ALL the time, while drinking from my little green cup. I remember once, after watching Barney, pulling up a stool next to you in the kitchen and singing the “I love you, you love me” theme song. I was so excited to sing it to you because I felt that so strongly. I remember wanting so badly to get on the bus with Sarah and Michael to go to school and being so sad that I wasn’t old enough. But you were always there to give me a big hug and play with me so I could enjoy being home too. I loved going to the Family History Center with you and playing while you helped other people find records of their ancestors. (Although I did NOT like the time that I stapled my finger… OUCH!) I remember being so excited in the first few years of school when you would come help out at the computer lab – I was so proud of you and proud to be your daughter! I still am.
Thank you for being my friend when I was a teenager. Not in the way that some mothers would rather be the friend than the parent. You were the parent. You had rules and expectations for me and you made sure that I followed them. But you also showed me so much love that even when I got mad at you for small things, or you got mad at me for bigger things, I knew you loved me and I couldn’t stay mad for long. I felt so bad for some of my friends who didn’t have good relationships with their moms. I couldn’t imagine what that would have been like. I always knew that I could count on you and you would be there for whatever I needed. Even though I had bad self-esteem and thought that no one liked me or wanted to my friend, you showed me that I was fun to be with, that I was funny, that I had worth as a person. You wanted to spend time with me and talk with me. You listened to my ideas and encouraged me in the things I wanted to do. I loved when I was in basketball and we would stay up way too late watching the BYU Women’s Basketball games, even though I had to wake up in the morning for seminary. You encouraged me and told me that I could play for BYU if I wanted. I ended up quitting basketball for band, but you showed me that you would always be supportive of my dreams. I remember sitting in the library and talking for hours and hours about anything and everything. While most teenagers wanted to be out with friend (and though I sometimes did too), I wanted to be home, talking with you. I am so grateful that you made home a place I wanted to be, where I felt safe and loved. I remember telling people that you were my best friend (along with some other people, of course). And Mom, I don’t say it enough anymore, but you still are one of my best friends.
Thank you for teaching me about the Gospel, and how to love the Gospel. I never doubted your faith in Christ or in His restored Gospel. I saw how much it meant to you and it made an impression on me. You showed me how I can fulfill my callings in the church. I may not make handouts for my lessons or spend so much time each month visiting teaching so many sisters, assigned and unassigned, like you so faithfully do, but I have learned to accept the call to serve others and put my heart into it. I love the many Gospel centered talks we have had – in Yellowstone, at home, driving to Bay City, going to and from the Temple, on the phone. Growing up, it was so important to me to have someone who I could talk about the Gospel with so I could understand my own beliefs and how they fit into the Gospel. You were that someone. I always knew that I could talk to you about the Gospel and my own spiritual experiences and that you would not only listen, but get excited about it all with me. You still are that someone – just a few weeks ago I shared my new method of scripture study with you because I knew you would encourage me and get excited about it with me. Part of me wanted to yell it from the rooftops because of how much it was helping me, but really, the only person I truly wanted to share it with, was you. My love of the Gospel started with you. You showed me how to recognize the Spirit, how to get the Spirit when I needed it, and how to evaluate myself when I wasn’t feeling it so I could change and get the Spirit back. You taught me that Christ comes first. You never forced me to go to early-morning Seminary, but you encouraged me to go and pointed out to me how it was helping me, and I always went. You encouraged me to study the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and to pay attention to General Conference. You taught me about how our standards are not there to punish us or keep us from having fun, but to protect us and bring us joy. You showed me, through example, that the only way to be truly happy is through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you SO much for always encouraging me to go on a mission. I couldn’t count the times that you let me know how important your mission was to you and how much you wanted me to be able to have that experience. Even when I said I just wanted to get married, you said that I should wait because I would learn so many valuable things on my mission that I would need as a wife and mother. Though I’m not either of those, I know that it is true. I will be a much better wife and mother someday than I ever would have been if I had not gone on a mission. You never pushed the idea on me, just constantly reminded me what a wonderful experience it would be. If you hadn’t talked about it so much from the time I was young, I honestly don’t know if I would have gone. I didn’t do it for you, but in part, I did it because of you. You let me know how important it was to you, and I wanted that for myself. And because of you (and the Gospel, of course), I was able to touch many lives and help many people make steps to come unto Christ. I became better because of my mission, and so did many people that I influenced. Thank you for that.
Thank you for being supportive of my life now. You never questioned my desire to be a marriage and family therapist. You only supported me and encouraged me. When I doubt myself, you remind me that I can do this. You point out my God-given strengths and remind me of how they will help me to help others. You let me ramble on and on about what I’m learning, even though it’s probably sometimes boring. You encourage me to better myself in every area of my life, not just in my schooling. You lovingly remind me of the things I need to improve on. No matter what, I always know that you have my best interest at heart.
Thank you for not being perfect. This letter so far may sound like our life is easy and we never have any problems. But we do. Our family life is hard. There are times when all of us, I’m sure, want to scream because of our family is kinda crazy! We have a lot of struggles of all different kinds. We all get mad at each other, tease too much, waste precious time together doing things that don’t matter. We aren’t perfect. But we try. We try to make the best of the situations we are put in. No matter what happens between us, we know that we love each other and we would do anything for each other. We learned that from you, Mom. We aren’t perfect, but we don’t have to be. We get mad, but we forgive and love. No matter what happens, our family is going to make it. We are going to struggle, fight, cry, make mistakes, but we are in this life together. And we are going to make it. We are going to be re-united with ALL our family members. We are going to be together forever, now and in the eternities. And Mom, with the help of Dad, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, it’s because of you.
I love you, Mom! Happy Birthday!!!
Rach (your little punkin)