Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Sydney!

Some of my earliest memories of my mother start off when I was in elementary school. Every night I would leave her a note or a picture on my Magna-doodle and in the morning, magically, there would be a note back to me from her! She packed my lunch from kindergarten to senior year in high school and there was always an I love you written on my banana or napkin. A small reminder during the day of her love for me. Some days it was hard going off to school, I always wanted to be home where mom was and to spend the day with her. We'd make bread or cookies, read, go on walks, dress up..home was so safe and comfortable because of her. Maybe that's why I love being at home still. Or why I wanted to be a mother so badly myself.
Through my teenage years while other girls couldn't stand their overbearing mothers, she became my best friend. At night I'd come into her room where she'd be writing journals or letters and sprawl out across the end of their bed and talk with her. Sometimes I'd be after a date and we'd discuss the prospects of the particular young man. Many times I was searching out her wisdom and advice on what to do about something. Many times we'd be laughing or I'd be crying. I don't know whether she cared that her private time was interrupted by one of us but to me, those times were my lifeline during growing pains. So many times still, when I call her up, I feel like I'm sprawling out across her bed.."I need your advice on something.."
From my mother I've learned devotion, loyalty and service. Many people don't know this, but my mom has gotten up at 5am every school day morning from the time I started seminary ten years ago. For each one of us, she made sure we had a good breakfast, had everything we needed, and saw her waving to us from the porch as we drove (sometimes in the dark) into town for seminary and school.
From her I learned how to give, how to perform service for others. She made every important dress I ever wore through elementary Christmas and church dresses to my high school prom dress when I won prom queen title. I can still see her bending over a pattern, sewing a dress for us, or a quilt. How many seams she ripped out, how many hours she put into those projects for us.
She has a wonderful sense of humor. Sometimes we can't look at each other or else we'll burst out laughing. Many times I think to myself "Wait till I tell Mom...." She would leave $20 bills underneath towels and laundry left in the hallways for the lucky person who decided to pick up like she was always asking us to. After a day or two she'd reveal her hiding places and tease us "now if only you had just picked up after yourselves like I told you too!" My mom's money was safe, no one ever did get lucky enough to get one of those bills!
My mom held my hand as I learned to walk, as I plowed through school, whenever I cried, when I was sick, as we waited to hear back from colleges, when I left for college, as I got ready to walk through the door to get married, through labor and delivery, and now as I have my own daughter she walks with me, her hand in mine still. I remember one time our friend Denise told me "You're mother is the most beautiful person I know." My heart swelled with pride. Since that point when I was 16 or so, I've seen her through those glasses Denise showed me and it's true. My mother is the most beautiful person I know.
For 24 years now I have never, ever heard her speak ill of anyone else. Not one unkind thought or word about anyone behind their back has escaped her lips. Never has she complained about having no time, not enough sleep, 'if only' or any other such lamentation. When she says she won't tell anyone else, she's a vault. When she says she'll be somewhere, she will be. Her loyalty, integrity and unfailing faith in good things draws people in. So many times I've been in line at the grocery store with her only to see the cashier or someone else in line open up and start unloading their burdens on her. She is someone they can trust. She attracts the lonely and downhearted because they know she will comfort them. I'm just so grateful I was born to her and no one else. If everyone had a mother like her, the world would be beautiful and kind.

So here is to my best friend and the most beautiful person I know, Happy Birthday!


  1. Wow! Your mom is incredible. I'm sure a tribute like this makes all the time that it was so difficult to wake up at 5 am or bite her tongue or teach her children to follow through worth it to her! She did her job. And she did it top-notch. She raised an incredible person. Everyday I wish I had this relationship with my own mom and can only hope and pray I can with my daughter. I can't tell you how grateful I am that you share this and that I know your mom! Happy Birthday Sydney!

  2. That was beautiful Jenna. After reading this I can see where you get your goodness from. What an incredible mother and beautiful relationship you two have! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. :) :) :) what a wonderful wonderful way to say happy birthday. I couldn't agree more with everything that you said, Jenna. Reading it flashed me back to those same moments you described (with the lunchs, the early awakenings, and definitely the chats with us laying across the end of her bed). There's no way anybody could have put into words better the kind of mother and person she is. It was a great piece. And mom, when you read this, I second everything J has said. Happy birthday, mom!

  4. Happy Birthday Sydney! I loved this tribute. It sounds idealistic, but if you know Sydney, it's all so true! You are a beautiful woman who truly spreads beauty everywhere. I hope your day was special for you. Love, love, love to you!

  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUNT SYDNEY!!! I love you! Miss you! Kuhl sisters for the win. Hahaha.

  6. I am speechless and a little bit of blubbering is going on, here. Thank-you, Jenna, for such a tribute. I am so deeply touched by your words. And, thank-you, dear friends and family, for such support and sweet b-day wishes. Getting older is spectacular!!! xoxoxoxo

  7. Jenna, this is amazing. I am at my school right now ready to go teach my class, and fighting back tears. Thanks for reminding us all of the deep, eternal influence of a righteous mother, and especially of the wonderful influence Sydney has been in our lives. And on another note, you are an AMAZING writer. I wish I had you in my class.

  8. Jenna, Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to your Mother on her Birthday. It made me teary eyed and so thankful for a wonderful Daughter and wonderful Granddaughter. I remember when your Mother wrote a lovely note to me years ago. It lifted my spirit then and many times when life was a little difficult, I would read it again and feel my world was better. I love you both so much. All my love, Grandma.


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