Today is the birthday of Esther Joy (Maret) Goetz. Throughout her years she has had many names; daughter, sister, friend, niece, wife, mom, aunt, confidant, anti-TV mother (a hilarious headline in our local newspaper), “Dolly Mama” (on her blog) and one of my best friends. One of my favorite things about my mom is her deep wisdom built through a life of intensely loving others and committing to grow herself. One of the little mantras my mom likes to remind me of often is that aside from my striving and actions I am a gift to others. Today, on her birthday, I want to sing from the rooftops what a gift she is to me.
You were my gift when you embraced your rounding belly, swelling with my tiny figure just months into your new marriage. You were the gift because you taught me love.
You were my gift when I would pad into your room in the middle of the night to be consoled during a nightmare. You were the gift because you taught me comfort.
You were my gift when you created enduring memories and traditions, including annual pumpkin picking, tree cutting and stockings. You were the gift because you taught me to make memories.
You were my gift as you helped to find cures for my overactive three year old bladder and my preteen-teen migraines. You were the gift because you taught me what it was like to have someone fight for me.
You were the gift as you shuttled me around from piano to soccer to field hockey, art classes, lacrosse, bassoon (for goodness sake!) because you wanted me to love what I loved. You were the gift because you taught me to be myself.
You were the gift when you let the whole neighborhood into our home after school and on snow days and weekends. You were the gift because you taught me to value people.
You were my gift as you both coached and cheered for me from the sidelines. You were the gift because you taught me to be a part of a team.
You were my gift as you filled our evenings with dinners around the kitchen table; room for good food, “I’m sorrys,” laughter, and stories. You were my gift because you taught me family.
You were my gift as we budgeted my money while also helping to support me through my first car, college and even daycare. You were my gift because you taught me gratitude.
You were my gift as you taught me tools to manage my mental health; counseling, relaxation and chamomile tea. You were my gift because you taught me the beauty of vulnerability.
You were my gift as you hugged me in the kitchen the night before I left for college, both holding me close and letting me spread my wings in the same instant. You were my gift as you taught me the importance of making room for grief.
You were my gift as you planned my “teacher shower,” organized my first classroom, and talked with me everyday for four years on my hour and a half commute. You were my gift because you taught me service.
You were my gift when you welcomed Cody into our family and fiercely loved him as your own. You were my gift because you taught me inclusion.
You were my gift when you consoled me over the phone, crouched down on the floor of my closet confused about my unexpected pregnancy while also celebrating the beauty of the new unfurling life in my womb. You were my gift as you taught me that it’s okay to feel the both/and.
You continue to be my gift each and every time I see Broden excitedly run for his Meemaw. You are my gift because you are his gift.
You are my gift because of the fierceness with which you love. You are deeply devoted to people, growth and hope and I have never met someone else with the capacity to invest in so many so well.
You are my gift because you are my mom, one of my closest friends, and quite simply one of the most incredible people I know.
What do you give to the person who gave you quite literally everything in the gift of life, except to remind you that YOU are the gift.
I love you! Happy birthday!