Those of you who have been following this blog for sometime, or know me personally, know that I have an unique story. My Grandma (whom I called Mommy) raised me until she passed away just before I entered high school. I then moved in with my aunt and uncle. I feel so blessed to have been influenced by two very different and strong women, not to mention my beautiful mother-in-law. Each one of these women is strong, each beautiful, each kind, each loving, and each SO very different. Mommy. I remember her smell. Not at all like the cigarettes she smoked or the coffee she drank. It's a smell I could never describe. I remember her hands. They were so soft, yet wrinkled, and fingers so slender with long beautiful nails. I remember the way they felt wrapped around mine. I remember admiring her mother's ring, the one piece of jewelry she wore every day. I remember her long, dark hair that she often wore in a braid to the side. I remember the way it felt to cuddle up with her at night and listen to endless stories about when I was younger, the way she scrunched her nose when she laughed, how happy she was when she had her kids around, and how sad her eyes were when she thought she was losing everyone. I remember my last birthday with her. She was in the hospital, but made sure to give me the last $5 food stamp she had. She passed away shortly after. Her last days tear me apart inside because I can't have them back. I can only remember the sadness I felt from her and the fact that I was too busy being a teenager to sit and linger in the last moments with her. This woman who had taught me so much. She had a hard hard life. One that movies are made of. She worked hard. Loved fiercely. Forgave often. Had faith that could move mountains. Had a spirit that could warm any soul. Along with all of that, she had grit and humor. She was kind and soft, but tough. She taught me to love. She taught me to forgive to the point that some could view it as a fault. She taught me about God's unconditional love. She told me every day that I was special and that He had big plans for me. She taught me to fight for the ones we love. She taught me that everything in life happens for a reason. She taught me to have a generous heart, even when you don't have it to give. She taught me to be kind and to always think about how it would feel to be in someone else's shoes. She gave me the gift of confidence that I was meant for something great. She gave me my heart. She taught me to be still with God. She taught me to be still with art. She made ceramics. I remember watching her paint and even letting me help. Her work was beautiful. This woman gave me my heart.
Erica. She is strong. She is funny. She has a huge heart that seems to always have room for another person. She has a strong moral compass that she always follows. She has a laugh that will fill a room and the smile to go with it. She, like Mommy, loves fiercely. She will protect those she loves to the end of this Earth and will stop at nothing. If you tell her she can't do something, she will do it. If you say she's not strong enough, she'll go through hell to show you she is. She got the not so enjoyable honor of taking in a teenage girl when she was only 25. One she had only spent a limited time with. One who was so different than anything she knew. Our families were completely different. Our life experiences were completely different. We struggled. We didn't see eye to eye. I knew absolutely nothing. She had to teach me so much. God knew exactly what we needed even if we didn't. We grew and learned together. She taught me to care about the way I present myself. She taught me to work hard even when I didn't want to. She taught me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. She taught me to stand up for what I believe in, always. She taught me to be a strong, independent woman. She taught me to have fun and be sociable, to not sit back and let life pass me by. She taught me that no one is better than me, but I am no better than anyone else. She taught me to not let anyone take advantage of the person I am. She taught me about what it looks like to love someone like she loves my uncle. It may be the purest and most real love I've seen. She gave me strength and independence. Most of all, she taught me how to get through the hardest struggle I've endured. She was there for me when I learned my dream of being a momma may never come true. I know she felt the same pain I did. I know her heart broke for me as her daughter and because she had been through the same thing. She struggled as I did for so long until she was blessed with the miracles that are Myca and Macy. Thank you Erica for giving me my strength and independence. Thank you for changing my life.
Peggy. She will undoubtably be surprised to be on this list. All that she has done for me. All that she has taught me. All the support she has given me. She is one of my Mothers. I love to watch Peggy in a room during a big family get together. She walks through swiftly, knows what needs to be done, does it, smiles, laughs, plays with all the nieces and nephews little ones, points to the spot where this goes and that goes, makes sure everyone's taken care of, all seemingly effortless. Peggy is graceful and strong. She always knows exactly what everyone needs. She never questioned if we would be parents. She knew we, all of us, would do whatever needed to be done to make it happen. She's one of the most thoughtful people I know. I remember the tears she shed on our wedding day, the day we told her we were pregnant, and the day Steff was born. Our joys are hers and our sorrows are hers. She takes the time to say how much it means to her that Bret and I have each other. She told me a long time ago that she would do anything for her kids and that now included me. She welcomed me into the family as if I had always been there. She has taught me to have the answers even when you don't. She has taught me to be strong for those we love...always. She taught me how to always remember what we love about a person even when it's not easy. Maybe even the patience it takes to love and raise a strong willed Baierlein man. She continues to teach me how to live with grace and dignity. She has taught me that you go through any length necessary to protect and be there for your children and friends. She has treated me like a daughter from the beginning. I am constantly amazed by the love she shows our family.
I can't believe how lucky I am to have had the guidance and love of these three women. I don't know who I would be without the constant love and strength of these three women. I would not be the person or the mother I am today without them always. They have all three taught me what it means to be a momma. That means more to me than any gift I have ever been given. I leave this in tears and overwhelming gratitude and one of my favorite pictures of Steff and I by the so talented Kelly Beach.
A huge thank you to all the moms that have supported me and helped me along the way. Each of you have had a little part in my journey to motherhood. Thank to all the moms who continue to support one another. And to all the future moms who are still struggling to have your dream, you are never far from my heart. You are already an amazing mom and already fighting for your child. There's nothing more true than that love which you already hold.
Peace and SO much love,