Happy Birthday, Mom: Thank You for Being You

Since beginning my writing journey, I’ve wanted to write about two important people in my life – my parents. Today is my mom’s birthday, so what better time to tell you about this special woman. Mom, thank you for being you – this post is for you!


Last evening my family had my parents over for a birthday dinner for Mom. We served homemade lasagna, breadsticks, and spinach salad followed by ice cream with warm peanut butter cookies for dessert. Great conversation ensued, games were played, and laughter was common throughout the night. The kids had Grandma and Grandpa sit through five different Coyote Peterson (wildlife educator) episodes, which spurred conversation about different insects, and lots of cringing as we watched Mr. Peterson purposely get stung – one insect after another. The bullet ant stingΒ (the most potent sting in the insect kingdom) was the final episode we watched, and let’s just say we hope we never experience that sting.

Our night encompassed much of what makes Mom so special – laughter, fun, homemade food, outdoor adventures, learning, and a love of family.

Growing up, I had a wonderful childhood, and Mom was very involved. She coached my soccer team for years, joined my school’s PTA, volunteered to chaperone my field trips, lead my Girl Scout troops, volunteered as an artist-in-residence (through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts) where she would teach art lessons to classes in my school – my favorite part of elementary school, and she volunteered during many of our youth church activities. I remember being excited to have Mom with me – wherever I was. All of these activities were very special, but one of the most meaningful and memorable acts was her choice to stay home with us when we were little.

Mom went to college at the University of Minnesota and got a nursing job right out of college. She took an extended leave once I was born so that she could stay home and raise me, and later, my two younger brothers. Once my brothers and I were in school, Mom chose to go back to nursing, but only part-time.

My parents worked it out so either my mother or father was home for us at all times. I remember home-cooked meals in the evenings (Mom’s wild rice soup was my favorite),

and warm after-school snacks – oatmeal muffins were the best. Mom made all of our Halloween costumes, often dressing up along with us.

One of my favorite memories is Mom playing the piano at Christmas while we sang songs by her side. What Child Is This has always been her favorite Christmas song.

Our summers were filled with swimming at the many beaches on White Bear Lake, trips to the library, weekends at the family cabin, and the occasional camping trip.

As I grew, Mom was not just my mom anymore, she transitioned into a friend. We picked up the habit of taking one or two long, brisk walks every day. To this day, we still take walks together when we visit each other. These walks are, and always have been, filled with deep conversation, catching up on the day’s events, and our way of staying healthy – physically and mentally.

While I was in high school, we started enjoying girl’s weekends when the boys were away hunting or fishing. Whether we were hiking the North Shore of Lake Superior,

visiting my grandparents in Texas,

gazing over the Fourviere district in Lyon, France,

exploring the canyons in New Mexico,

snowshoeing in seven feet of snow in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,

or horseback riding in the Absaroka mountains in Montana,

special memories were made and our relationship grew stronger. Some weekends we chose to stay home where shopping, dinner out, a game of Canasta, and popcorn and a movie on the couch were just what we needed. “Now and Then” was always our go-to movie. I can’t wait until my own daughter is a little older so my mom and I can introduce her to this classic film.

Image result for Now and Then movie

Marrying my high-school sweetheart was best described as bittersweet. I was more than excited to marry my love, but I was sad and a little nervous to move out of my parent’s house for good. A sure sign of a wonderful childhood, right? Both of my parents walked me down the aisle, and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. The emotions I felt when I saw my future-husband waiting for me at the end of the aisle, and the love and support I felt from my parents as they linked their arms with mine, was overwhelming. I was celebrating and mourning the changes that were taking place – all at once.

Life did change, but the relationship with my mother continued to grow and get stronger. My mother now works alongside of me as I run a small gardening business. Throughout the growing months, we spend hours each week working in gardens, talking, and creating together. On the days that we don’t see each other, we talk on the phone – sometimes twice per day.Β  When we are not working, my family still spends many summer weekends with my parents at the family cabin where games, fishing, swimming, long walks in the woods, and roasting marshmallows fill our time.

Four years ago, my parents bought the family farm, which changed all of our lives. After retirement, my mother became engrossed in researching her family history. During this time, she discovered that one of the homesteads still existed. Long story, short (you can read the full story here) – my parents ended up moving onto the farm, starting a tree farm, and are still unearthing family secrets as they explore their new home. This has been something my mom has loved and cherished. Consequently, this is what ultimately guided me back to writing – a long time passion of mine. I needed to tell their story. I needed to tell my family’s story.

My mom and I now share the passion of the family farm, the passion of our history, and a passion for telling our stories. We spend a lot of time on the phone, combing through pictures, and getting our stories straight. When my family and I visit the farm, we never tire of walking through the museums my parents have created in the barn and granary.

Trips to the farm also involve taking walks through the nature trails, hunting for agates in the farm fields, and delicious homemade treats waiting for us in the house.

As an adult, I now see the qualities that make my mom so special.

  • Her love for the outdoors has taught me many important lessons, and has brought me on many unforgettable adventures.
  • Honesty and trust have always been important to my mother, and she has always lived her life this way. Our relationship will always be strong because of this.
  • My mom is my confidant. I can talk to her about anything and know she will always support me.
  • Hard work and determination with a little creativity is a work ethic my mother has always modeled. After reading my great-grandfather’s memoirs, I now know that the women in our family have always been hard workers.
  • Mom has always cared for others, and is always thinking of others, but she takes care of herself too. As a mother, I now understand why taking care of yourself is so important.
  • Mom leads a Christian life, which I believe, she believes, and the family before us believed to be a great model to live by – a life lived by faith.
  • Mom has always been a great teacher.
  • My mom, along with my dad, modeled a healthy marriage full of love, honesty, trust, and respect. There is hardly a better gift that parents can pass on to their children.

  • My mother taught me at a young age, the importance of having a pet in the house, and how to be respectful and responsible so our furry friends are happy and healthy.

The way Mom has lived and continues to live her life has taught me and many others so many important life lessons. Now that I have two children of my own, I aspire to lead my life much like my mother has. I want to pass on the important lessons, the love, the strong relationships she shared with me – to my own children. When I asked my children what makes Grandma special today, they replied:

  • “Grandma is nice.”
  • “I love when she brings Gushers to work to share with us.”
  • “I love when Grandma goes on walks with us.”
  • “She always has fun projects for us to do.”
  • “Grandma always plays with us.”
  • My daughter said she appreciates Grandma’s desserts when we visit my parents.
  • My son said he loves when Grandma swings on the hammock and goes fishing with him at the cabin.

  • My daughter mentioned that she loved the fun butterfly presentation that Grandma put on down in Texas when she was volunteering in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

  • My son said he liked the Easter lesson that Grandma taught him during the egg hunt last Easter where among all of the eggs filled with candy and coins, one egg contained a nail (signifying Jesus’ crucifixion), one egg contained a rock (signifying Jesus’ tomb), and one egg was empty (signifying Jesus’ resurrection).

Mom has always been a great mother, and now she is an equally wonderful grandmother.

Drinking a Pepsi on the pontoon in memory of Great-Grandma.

So, Mom, thank you for being you! Thank you for being a wonderful mom, grandma, and best friend. Thank you for the wonderful life you have given us, the excellent lessons you have taught us, and the exciting adventures you have brought us on. We look forward to making more memories, going on more exciting adventures, and learning more from you – and right along with you. We look forward to many more weekends at the cabin, agate hunts at the farm, and meeting up on road trips as the years go by. I look forward to working with you, talking on the phone with you, researching our family history with you, telling our stories together, and living out our passions together. I love you, Mom, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!







37 Replies to “Happy Birthday, Mom: Thank You for Being You”

  1. Nice tribute to a wonderful gal! Well said, and she sure looks like Connie.

    1. Thanks so much, Carol! I think Mom and Grandma have always looked a lot alike too. πŸ™‚

  2. A really lovely tribute post here. Hope she had a lovely birthday πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so very much, Rachael! πŸ™‚

  3. What a lovely tribute to a fantastic mom! She seems like a truly inspirational woman, putting first things first and paying attention to the little things, like truly listening, that we sometimes take for granted. The story of walking down the aisle with both of your parents, knowing life would change, but walking forward with courage is testament to the results of your mom’s (and dad’s) teaching. It’s not, they say, the absence of fear, but the ability to move forward inspire of it. I enjoyed reading about your mom and her influence on you. Happy Birthday (a few days late)!

    1. Thanks so much, Angela! I’ll be sure to pass on the birthday message to my mom. And, I love your take on fear and the ability to move forward in spite of it. You are absolutely right about this. I remember being afraid to do speeches in school, or presentations up in front of my classes. They told me to prepare as much as I can and do the best that I can – and that’s as much as I could do. Nothing to be worried about. I still take this advice to heart and think about it when I’m stressing. It calms me nerves every single time. πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Angela!

  4. Your Mom is special. The words you have written are often only spoken after our loved ones are gone. You have chosen to express these things for her to hear and for the rest of us to affirm. I don’t know why we are so sparing in our words of appreciation for those we love. Thanks for your example.

    1. Steve, thank you so very much for your kind and thoughtful comment. Your words were special as they gave me goosebumps to read them. Thanks again, and I hope all is well with you. Hope you and the rest of your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Lucky, lucky you! Thanks for sharing so many family memories.

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind words! And, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about my little family. πŸ™‚


    1. Whoops apologies for the capital letters!! Not sure how that happened. Gremlins again ☺

      1. No worries! They are still very easy to read. πŸ˜‰

    2. Thank you, Suzanne! Yes, it’s always a little tricky when posting about family, so I try to be respectful, but honest too. And, yes! Our furry friends are still important to us all. They accompany us whenever we visit each other. Nothing better than having playful pups entertaining us. πŸ™‚

  7. Such a beautiful post. Your mum sounds like one awesome lady and she hat have loved this post! Loved the reference to now and then such a CLASSIC film. Wishing your mum a very happy birthday

    1. I’m so happy to find another fan of the movie, Now and Then! It’s been quite a few years since we’ve watched it now, but we still talk about it often. We can’t wait until my daughter is a bit older to start watching it with her. Thank you for your kind compliments and your warm wishes. I will pass them on to my mother.

  8. What an amazing gift you’ve made for your mum.

    1. Thank you, Daphne, for your kind words. I think she sees it as a gift already. πŸ™‚

  9. What an incredible tribute, Erin! This brought tears to my eyes! Your mom seems like an incredible woman. I love parents that make it a point to be involved in their children’s lives. I think it is so important! The Easter lesson that she taught is one that I will have to remember when I have kids. It is so hard to incorporate the true meaning of Easter when everyone is focused on egg hunts, candy, and the Easter bunny, but what a wonderful way to show it! Wow! Also, the way you described your feelings walking down the aisle at your wedding was absolutely beautiful. This is truly a fantastic post! And a giant HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your wonderful mom! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind words, McKenna! And, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement about parents who take time to be in the children’s lives. It really does set the stage for a great start to life. πŸ™‚ I will be sure to pass on your well-wishes to my mother. Thanks so much! xx

  10. What a fantastic insight into your wonderful life and a fitting tribute to your amazing mum. Great post. Mum’s are so precious and should be treasured. Happy birthday to your lovely mum xx

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, Shelley! I will be sure to pass on your well-wishes to my mother.

  11. Wow Erin, you are truly lucky and blessed to have such a wonderful mother and family. Your mum is a real special person indeed and your kids are so blessed to have such a great grandma around them. Happy Birthday to her. X

    1. Thank you so very much, Lorelle! I feel very fortunate to have the family that I do, and yes, now my kids are lucky to have an awesome grandmother. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment. I will pass on your well-wishes to my mother. xx

  12. Your mam seems like a wonderful lady. What a fabulous post to honour her birthday. I bet she’s super proud of you. I think it’s lovely to take the time to honour the special people in our lives. I wrote a similar kind of post for my mam’s recent birthday https://rachaelstray.blog/2017/10/01/some-heroes-wear-capes-others-are-step-parents/

    1. Thanks so much, Rachael! And, yes! I agree that it’s important to let people know how we feel, how we see them – even if it’s hard for them to believe. πŸ™‚ I look forward to reading your post!

  13. This is a beautiful piece x I am hearing it for other mums xx

    1. Thanks so much, Orla! xx

  14. She’s such an inspiring woman. What a wonderful tribute.

    1. Thanks so much, April! And, I concur. πŸ™‚

  15. Happy birthday Erin’s mom. πŸ˜€ Lovely tribute.

    1. Thank you so very much! Ha! I will be sure to pass on your well-wishes. πŸ™‚

  16. Happy Birthday to your Mom! Although, after reading this tribute, I’d have to say that she’s already got that covered.

    What strikes me most here Erin are all the time and experiences you’ve shared together. It’s obvious that she is a wonderful mother, and has raised a talented and loving daughter. Love it!

    1. Gabe, thank you very much for all of your kind comments. You are right, until I wrote this piece, I hadn’t realized how much time we do spend together. Good thing we like each other. πŸ˜‰

  17. I loved reading this, and so enjoyed admiring the pics of you and your mom. She’s like a Swedish Florence Henderson (!) Seriously, she’s one of those lucky women who looks better and better with each and every year — and it looks like she’s passed this lovely trait on to you. Merry Christmas — and happy belated birthday to your mom.

    1. You have impeccable timing, as I am sitting here with my mother as she plays games with my two children. Her response: Wow! You made her day and she is still smiling. Thank YOU, and Merry Christmas to you, my fellow Swedish sister. πŸ™‚

      1. Tell her ‘aw shucks’ — and thanks! xoxoxo

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