Portrait of girl hugging mom and grandmother making family pictu

Even though Mother's Day has passed, take the time this week to appreciate all the women of influence in your life.

Thirty-four years ago, May 12 was Mother’s Day, just like it was last week.

I spent the day in a hospital delivery room contemplating the joys that motherhood would bring. Just kidding. I did not think for one second about the joys of motherhood. All I could do was breathe, push, breathe, cry, push, cry.

Our first child was trying to avoid joining our family. I can imagine her thinking, “This really hurts. Why has Mom been trying to push me out of this comfortable space for the last two hours. Doesn’t she know it’s nice in here?!” (Yes, without any anesthetic, the pushing phase was two hours before our daughter was born.)

At about 6 p.m., after 15 hours of labor, our daughter finally joined us. She was a week early and we were a little unprepared. (Ha ha. I say a little unprepared, but each new baby helped me realize there is really no way to prepare for the life-changing event of having a new baby, whether it was my first child or my fifth.) My sweet husband rushed out to buy some roses because I was now a mother with no Mother’s Day gift! That was my very first Mother’s Day. I can’t say I’ve had another quite like it.

Mother’s Day is always a day we celebrate our mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, teachers; women who have had any influence on us, really. Recently, I had my students write a thank you note to a teacher; any teacher they chose. It was entertaining and joyous to read the specific things that have influenced these high school students’ lives. This is what I hope we all do today or sometime during the next week or two. Here is a short list for me.

To my mom, who is still my best friend; someone who will go shopping and buy clothes without trying them on, just hoping they will fit. (We can take them back next time we go shopping if they don’t fit.)

To my mother-in-law, who raised a fine son to become my husband, and patiently sat back to let us figure out our marriage ourselves.

To my oldest daughter, who is also my best friend. She’s lived now half of her life away from my home, but we still talk every day. She’s doing such a fine job of raising her own family. (And it’s true. One of the main reasons you have children is so you will eventually have grandchildren.)

To my daughters in law who are taking such great care of our sons and raising wonderful children of their own. And still including me in much of their lives.

To our youngest daughter, also another best friend, who puts up with me checking in with her almost daily. What an amazing, competent woman she has become; a leader in all of her endeavors.

To our granddaughters, who bring so much fun and joy without the responsibility of parenting. (I can talk about grandsons another time.)

To our daughter who lives only in our hearts now, after leaving this life almost five years ago in a terrible accident. I still think about her daily. I think she is a bigger influence to me now than she was before. When I think about her, I think about her virtues of always seeing the best in people and being willing to do almost anything for anyone. My thoughts are often about how I can be more like her.

It’s been a busy couple of days of celebration. I haven’t taken the time to thank these women yet. But I can still do it before Father’s Day. I hope we can all find it in our hearts to appreciate a woman of influence in our lives this next week. Yes, Mother’s Day has come and gone; but these women deserve a little praise or a little thanks or a little chocolate any day of the year.

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Jennifer Sant is a Utah high school teacher, energy wellness coach mother of five and currently grandmother of nine. Contact her at jennifersant801@gmail.com.