Recently, I had the honor of being a judge for the Miss Teen pageant in Minneapolis. It was a two-day event. Contestants participated in interviews, modeled casual wear and formal gowns. As I judged, I looked for personality, poise, confidence, and authenticity. A full day was set aside for interviews. I had a list of questions I would ask, from thought-provoking to light-hearted. One of the questions I asked was “Who is someone you admire?” Nine out of ten gave the same answer: their mother.

From interview to interview, I could see the pattern and I began to expect their answer. After giving their response, they’d continue on to tell me why their mother was so special. Several told of sacrifices, while others told of friendship. A couple told me of the tireless strength their mother had as a single mom. It hit me that none of them had shared extraordinary things. No, they were admiring their mothers for the ordinary, for following through.

I smiled to myself and thought, “Wow, if only the moms could hear these responses.”

My own kids have grown up so fast; two are married adults and one is now in junior high. Although it didn’t seem fast when I was changing diapers or carpooling them all over town, time has flown! In those seasons, however, time moved at a snail’s pace. No matter the season, there have been days I have given it my all and it just didn’t seem like enough. Sometimes I wish I could add two more hours to the day or reverse time and have a re-do.

Listening to these young women, I felt the urge to write to you:

Moms, don’t give up.

Don’t think your kids haven’t noticed your sacrifices, they have. Don’t think your caring doesn’t matter, it does. Your kids are watching you and though you may not hear the “thank yous” often, they love you.