My mother is retiring today after more than 30 years busting her butt, mostly as a single parent, to make sure my sisters and I had everything we needed. It might not have been everything that we wanted, but she accommodated where she could.

My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I remember exactly where I was sitting when my parents called a “family meeting” to announce their divorce. My sisters were 10 and 16 at the time, and I remember how mad and upset they both were. I didn’t fully understand what was going on. All I knew is that I had been called away from my friends outside to be told my dad was moving out. I simply asked if I could back outside and play. For my mother, it was the beginning of raising three girls on her own.

It wasn’t until I became a parent when I fully understood the sacrifices parents make for their children. The older my daughter gets, the more I appreciate the things my mother did for me. When I was growing up, I didn’t fully appreciate them or understand why she did the things she did and I’m sure my daughter is having those very same thoughts now. I’ve had to work two job before in order to pay the bills. I’ve had to sacrifice time with friends. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m sure my mother felt the same way about my sisters and I.

When I was in the middle of a divorce, I looked to my mother for support. I kept telling myself that if I could remain as strong as my mother did, I would be just fine. The independence that she has created for herself, to some, might be sad, lonely and depressing, but for her, it was just the opposite. That’s how I knew that everything was going to be ok, and that I would be ok.

My mother is an inspiration to me. Growing up, I didn’t always like her, but I always loved her, and the older I get, the more I recognized just how similar I am to her. So mom, thank you for everything you did for me, because I know I caused most of the grey hairs on your head, so CONGRATULATIONS on your retirement. You DESERVE it!