Today is Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but reflect on how valuable my own mother has been in shaping the person I am today.

Growing old is fun and interesting in so many ways. One way is how the way you start seeing your parents changes. As you get older, you stop seeing them as parents, and start seeing them for the people they are, and the people they were.

You start to wonder what they were really like when you were only seeing the “parent” side of them. You start to wonder how they would fit into your own ecosystem of friends if they were your age right now and you new them as peers.

When you get to that perspective, you start painting the whole picture of who your parents are and how their parenting was only a part of who they are and what makes them special.

Growing up, my mom was all business, when it came to forming our attitudes toward responsibility and accountability. There were rules, and you followed them. It was pretty simple. And to enforce those rules, she always made one fact very clear: If you get arrested for something, don’t expect her to come bail you out, because she won’t.

It sounded harsh, at the time, but I can now see this is a very effective way of telling us to respect the rules and behave. My dad would often follow this up by throwing in the caveat, we will always be there to defend you, if you’re telling the truth. But if we find out you lied to us, you are absolutely on your own.

There weren’t many shades of grey with my mom. Things were pretty black and white. There’s right, and there’s wrong. It was pretty simple.

However, as we start talking as adults, you find out that she is far deeper and more nuanced than I ever noticed growing up as her child. While it’s easy to remember the discipline, knowing her now makes me spend so much more time on how much fun she is, and always was.

It’s funny, because the way your friends react to your parents tells you more about your parents than you realize at the time. Looking back, I can see why my friends always loved being around my parents.

My mom, in particular, was always so welcoming to everyone. She loved to laugh with them, and they all felt at ease with her. They all saw the stern side of her, but that just made her sense of humor that much more wonderful and amazing.

Now that I’m an adult, and I have adult conversations with my mom, and we talk about adult things, I see just how much more sensitive, thoughtful, and kind she always was. I now see just what she always wanted for me.

She was truly grooming me to be completely self sufficient in this world. She worked hard to equip me with the tools to identify and pursue my own definition of happiness, and when she seems me unhappy, it really devastates her.

I’m so lucky my mom is still alive, and I get this time of my life with her. I hope everyone has been as lucky as I.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.