You wouldn't know it now, but my retired high-school teacher mom started out as a skinny kid in El Paso, Texas who learned English when she was in elementary school.
She was the first kid in her family to finish high school and go to college. She set a great example for her four daughters by being active in the community. My mom not only was our local PTA President, she also coached softball and attended college part-time, graduating when I was in sixth-grade, then went on to become a high school teacher.
I know every kid thinks his or her mom is great. But here are some things I remember about my mom that makes her great in my eyes: She always told my sisters and I that we could be anything we wanted to be in life. She let me go to Japan as an exchange student when I was 16 and also put me on a plane to the Bay Area when I earned a scholarship to UC Berkeley at the age of 17½, even though she had never been to either place and must have been a nervous wreck to do it.
She once pulled over her car when she saw two boys beating up on someone smaller and made them stop. She stayed up around-the-clock when my youngest sister was born premature and had seizures until she was two years old. She made food for the homeless and delivered it on Christmas Eve when she visited me at college. And even though she had two little toddlers, she made sure to come to my high school cross-country banquet to see me get my first Varsity letter.
In the years since I've grown up, I've come to appreciate my mom more. She's the one who gave me away at my wedding and never questioned my decision not to change my maiden name. She's been a hands-on and fun grandma and has given me confidence and support as a working mom. She's also made sure I've retained some of my Mexican-American heritage and helps me make homemade tamales when she comes to visit me in New Jersey.
Though she'll be in California this Mother's Day, I want her to know I'm thinking of her and feel pretty lucky to call her my own.
Submitted by Elizabeth Moore, Regional Editor of Essex County Patch