Dear Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful mothers out there! Today, I am dedicating this entry to my own fantastic mother.

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Dear Mom,

What to say to the person who gave me life and shaped me into the person I am today? I’m not sure I could fit it all in a letter, but on this Mother’s Day when I cannot be with you in person I’m going to try.

From the beginning, we liked to have fun together. You were never one of those moms who took things too seriously. Of course you set appropriate boundaries for my behavior, but you also knew how to kick back and have fun. I know I inherited my humor and general mischievousness in large part from you.

Yes, those were good times. I can tell in looking back at old pictures and videos that we were all very happy together.

Look at how young and beautiful we all are!

…And then things took a turn for the worse.

Ha ha! Just kidding Jen! But really, having a new baby sister was a big change for me and you were patient with me as I adjusted, which couldn’t have always been easy. I mean I know I was a perfect angel and all, but even angels have their off days…

This basically sums up our entire relationship

As I got older, you continued to stay very involved in my life despite working a full time job. You were the president of the PTO (among other positions), and put together several beautiful yearbooks that I still treasure today. I also loved it when you volunteered as a “Room Parent.” To this day, I remember the wonderful holiday parties you put together for the class which included many delicious treats and fun party games. I’m not sure I ever told you how much I appreciated you being involved at my school, but I really did. Now that I am a busy adult, I think back on all of the activities you were involved in and marvel at how you managed to do it all.

In addition to working full-time AND being very involved at school, you (and dad) also made a conscious effort to ensure that Jen I had the opportunity to try our hand at many different activities. These included (but are definitely not limited to):

Theater

Me as a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz

Dance

Oh-me-gee…the early 90’s…

Sports

Yes, I do mostly love this picture because of my sister Jen’s outfit

and a very short cheerleading career…

Jen–I’m sorry to “out” your former cheerleading career on the internet like this…

You always encouraged us to dream big, and gave us the tools we needed to succeed. You’re confidence and semi-fearlessness in the face of the unknown has always awed me a little bit. Anytime I had an idea or an ambition you never told me it was too big or impossible to achieve. Your mantra was always “let THEM tell me no,” and that mindset gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my dreams.

One instance in particular comes to mind. When I was 9, we visited Great-Grandma Belle in Alabama. That trip changed my life in ways I don’t think any of us could have ever predicted at the time. Of course we had a nice visit with Grandma, and a few nice days on the beach:

Gulf Shores, AL

Also included on the trip was a visit to Marshall Space Flight Center.

I still can’t believe you let me wear those shorts

I remember the trip vividly. I was awed by the how large the rockets were, and fascinated by the idea of human space flight. I asked Dad how I could someday work at a place like this, and he told me I’d have to major in engineering. And that’s what I did.

Over 10 years later, I was a junior in electrical engineering and still (somewhat fruitlessly) pursuing my dream of working for NASA. I had applied to several of NASA’s co-op and internship programs, but had not heard anything back. I had a contact at one NASA center through my university’s Career and Employment Services office, but even that river had suddenly gone dry. One day, frustrated at my lack of progress, I called you from a bench outside of a lecture hall. I told you I’d had it, and that I was giving up hope. You paused, and started typing away at your computer. Eventually you said that you had found a phone number for my contact and that you were going to call just to see what would happen. I remember thinking you were crazy (i.e. can she even DO that?!?!), and telling you to not worry about it because the situation was hopeless. Nonetheless, you hung up with me and called the number. When you called me back, you told me that my contact was on vacation which could explain why I hadn’t heard anything for awhile. You encouraged me to not give up, and to try sending one last email.

Thankfully, I did send that email. It turned out my application had been misplaced, and once they realized it I promptly had a phone interview. Amazingly enough, I got the job and accomplished the goal I had worked toward for so many years. My time at NASA was everything I ever hoped for and more, and it’s all thanks to you mom. Without your support and your pluck, I would have given up and not been able to live my dream. I am so grateful that you were there believing in me and my dream even when I had lost faith. I don’t think I will ever be able to thank you enough for that.

Mom, I think you’re an amazing person, and I’m very glad to be your daughter.

Christmas 2008

I love you,

Heather