The women who had a role in shaping the people we are today all offer their strength. It can be strength of character by instilling important values and life lessons. It might be strength of will, sacrificing their own needs to provide for their families and people they love. It is often the strength of perseverance, of not letting life’s obstacles stop them or us in reaching for the things that are important — or of lending us their strength when they might not have any to give.

It takes a village to raise a child, but today is a special day we set aside to honor our mothers. But we do not just mean those who gave us life, though we should surely celebrate them. We hope everyone recognizes those who gave of themselves and left a lasting impression on the person they are today.

Those women look different than the stereotypes of 60 years ago, as more and more children grow up in non-traditional homes. They might be raised by a grandmother, a sister, a stepmother, a foster mother or an aunt — or even a combination. But whether they have the title “biological mother” or not, we all have strong women in our lives who took on that role and supported us, helped us in troubled times, stood up for us when we needed protection and gave us hard truths when we needed tough love.

We should not take what our mothers gave us for granted. That means appreciating what many think or as “traditional mom duties” like changing diapers, helping with homework or doing laundry. But it also means understanding their sacrifices, whether that is putting their own hopes and goals on hold or working two jobs to pay the bills.

And at the end of the day, the reward for the time, energy and emotional investment is seeing their children become adults. The best of mothers hope the values they passed along and the path they put their children on was the right one. It can be a thankless task at times, one that can offer its own doubts and uncertainties. So, on Mother’s Day, the least we can do is make sure those women in our lives who struggled and fought to be there for us know how much they’re appreciated. A hug, a card, a phone call or some flowers is never going to be enough, but it can still say a lot.  

Take a moment today to thank all the women who helped shape you, mother, grandmother, aunt or sister.

To all the moms out there, we hope you know how important you are.

Happy Mother’s Day.