It's International Woman's Day and there are so many women we should thank for paving the way for all of us.  Today I am honoring my own mother and her sacrifice.


Angel here and if she was alive today she would shutter at the attention because she'd tell you she was just doing her job.  She took being a mother to the ninth degree of seriousness.  It was like she was born knowing how to care for others and not just her own.  Not only did she raise her own children but her grandchildren and any other child that was brought into her presence.  She was a natural nurturer.  Somehow when you were with her no matter how many other things she had going on she always made you feel like you were her only focus.  She was magical.  She was everything you would dream a mother should be and more.


My parents divorced when I was just eight but my dad was long checked out of their marriage and our lives before that.  My momma never missed a beat and if she did none of us knew it.  She worked three jobs so that I could have and be and do.  As a kid, I never understood why momma always wore t-shirts and never really dressed up. I would see other moms show up to school in nice clothes and cars and didn't understand why we didn't have that too.  It wasn't until I was older that I realized she spent all her money to make sure I had the best of everything.  She would shop for her clothes at garage sales or wear the same thing year after year.  She never complained instead she always managed to make things happen.  After my parents divorced my momma never dated again and I still to this day recall someone asking her why and her exact words "I have lived my life, now I want to make sure my Angel gets to live hers."  I was her life as her friends have told me.  I was her world.  I didn't quite understand why until I had children of my own.


I watched my momma work tirelessly day after day.  She always took the time to teach me about life.  She would stop and answer my questions and explain why certain things were important.  She taught me about the respect of others and how we must always be kind.  The most important and honorable thing she taught me was to love others.  She would tell me "Angel when you're with someone make them feel like the most special person during the time they are with you because you never know what they battle."  She was a pro at this and when she passed away in 2008 every single person who hugged my neck at her funeral said "your mom was my very best friend" that told me she practiced what she preached and it made me want to be a better human being.

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She has been gone 14 years this July and not a day goes by I don't think of her.  Growing up she told me two things:  get your education because no one can take that away from you and when you can turn around and help others the way people have helped us you do that.  I strive daily to honor her memory in all that I do as a mother and person in this world.  I am grateful for the times in life when I look in the mirror and I catch a glimpse of her face.  I smile knowing my children have a piece of her, the most special piece, her heart.  I see it in each of them and it gives me great pride knowing her blood runs through their veins.

So, today on International Women's Day I honor my beautiful and courageous mother, Jean Stephanie Ballard, for her great love and sacrifice to make me the woman I am growing into daily.


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