In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to salute all the fabulous moms out there.  There is one in particular that I just have to gush over.  She absolutely hates recognition or being in the spotlight so she shall remain nameless (wink, wink).  

She was recently named Clay County’s Farm Mom of the Year.  When I heard this news, I could have burst with pride.  That feeling is no stranger to me when it comes to her.  I have been proud of her for as long as I can remember.  And it will come as no surprise that when we called her this morning at 6:30 am to congratulate her, she was already in the tractor seat, planting corn.  

This woman is not a farm wife.  She is a farmer.  She is the strongest woman I know and the person I most look up to.    

She loves her family fiercely.  She has a work ethic that won’t quit.  She is the most selfless person I know.  I would argue she is the best cook in Southern Illinois.  She is incredibly patient (why didn’t I get more of that from her???).  I honestly don’t remember a single time that she raised her voice at me.  She didn’t need to.  Just knowing that I had disappointed her was punishment enough.     Probably her greatest accomplishment yet is that she is the most loving “Grammy” to her five granddaughters.

I have so many incredible memories with her so far and, God willing, can’t wait to make many more.  Here are just a few that stick out in my mind.  

When I was a young girl, she would tuck me in at night and ask about my day.  I remember her constantly telling me that I was beautiful, smart and could do anything I set my mind to.  Make no mistake, this was the most powerful thing she ever did for me.  She gave me confidence.  She believed in me, truly believed in me.  Just imagine if every kid had that kind of encouragement and confidence instilled in them.  That would be pretty amazing.

I can remember sitting in 3rd and 4th grade at Xenia Grade School . . . the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms were on the west side of the building which faces main street.  In the fall, I had a hard time concentrating on my studies because I knew I would be seeing her drive past in the semi and grain trailer, making numerous trips to the elevator and back.  She would often honk which made me swell with pride and I’m guessing annoyed my teachers a little.

My best childhood memories have nothing to do with presents, trips or anything money can buy.  They are from farming with my family.  My favorite times of the year were during the spring or fall when we were working in the fields.  On the weekends when we were all home and able to help, my mom would make lunch and we would go have a picnic on the tailgate of the pickup under a shade tree wherever we were working.  This was quality family time at it’s finest.  We would catch up with each other and discuss the plan for the rest of the day, get our bellies full and get back to work.  

I spent countless hours riding with her in the cab of our semi or Steiger tractor, sitting on a milk crate that she made a buddy seat out of.  This was her happy place.  To this day, anytime you pull into a field where she is working, you can bet she will be honking her horn with a huge smile on her face.  

There is probably not a time that I needed her more than when I became a mom for the first time.  She dropped everything and made the trip to Iowa to be with us and help me out for our first couple of weeks as a family of three when I had no clue what in the world I was doing.  I will cherish that time for the rest of my life.  

Now that I am a Mom to three beautiful little girls, I honestly still can’t figure out how she did it all.  I now understand the challenges of wearing many hats – wife, mom, career woman, friend, farmer – and I’m so grateful I have a veteran to seek advice from on how to keep it all moving in a positive direction.  I cannot think of a single event in my childhood and early adulthood that she wasn’t there for.  Ball games, band concerts, school field trips, she was there for it all.  Each time I got my heart broken, she was there to pick up the pieces and assure me that, “Someday you will meet Mr. Right and you will just know.”  As usual, she was right.  

She has been my rock through successes and failures.  If my girls are half as proud of me someday as I am of her, I will consider that to be doing alright.  

Thank you for showing me what a strong, kind, smart and fearless woman looks like.  

Happy Mother’s Day.