To my mother:

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Hi Mom. I know you'll read this because occasionally you leave me comments that make me giggle and smile for the rest of the day. I smile because I know you've just spent a significant part of the day choosing your words carefully, trying not to embarrass your daughter on the Internet, and are probably still wondering if the words you picked were the rights ones (they always are, Mom).

So, if you'll allow, I'd like to take today to present you with a carefully picked selection of words to thank you, Betty, for a few things.

Growing up, you told me a few things that have stuck with me: "Boredom is a choice, never the circumstances."  To this day, I carry a book or have games on my phone with me where ever I go, though I do claim to be "bored" every once in a while.

You also always told me that I'm smart. In fact, I think I heard that growing up more than "pretty" or "cute." That was the thing I could pride myself on, more than any other, and you made sure I knew it, every day. Even when my grades were dropping, even when I had problems in school, you were always reminding me, "Dianna, you're smart. We believe you can do this."

I know I wasn't an easy child to raise. But you never gave up on me. I always knew that I was loved, and that I was capable of so much more than what I was doing. This wasn't the inflated self-esteem push of the 90s - you weren't afraid to be critical - but this was you genuinely believing in me. And because you believed in me, I believed in myself.

You also taught me to question and to listen.

We both know I take after your husband a lot more than you. We even have the same nose and smile. But your model of quietly listening, thinking deeply before you speak, and genuinely discussing something rather than simply trying to be right is something I wish I had more of. When I fail to listen well (which is often, let's face it, pretty often), I think of how patient you've been with me - acting as my sounding board while I worked things out, listening as I cried on the phone when my boyfriend broke up with me, celebrating with me as I completed graduate school, and offering realistic advice when I had a problem. You are always there with an open mind, heart, and ear.

And we don't have the same sense of humor, but you give those things I like a try - you even liked that bit of Doctor Who I made you watch! And your sense of humor is sweet, quiet, and understated. When I manage to get an audible laugh from you, I know I've succeeded in doing something great.

But, most of all, Mom, you've taught me how to be a strong, independent woman. You never let anyone put you down because you're a woman. You never let anyone put your daughter down for the same reason. You modeled, for me, what it means to live life being who you are, not who people think you should be. And I love that about you.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.