and honestly I didn’t fully appreciate what my mom did for me when I was young.

After working 12 hours, she would pick Ellie and I up from our babysitter, or nanny, at 8 p.m. and we would go home.

The next morning she would repeat the whole process. Ellie and I always went back to sleep. We were able to at 6:30 a.m. because school didn’t start until 9 a.m.

I can’t remember very many times when she let the stress or a bad day at work show.

Whenever she picked us up, we were always overjoyed to see her, and I know that if she could have quit her job and stayed with us all the time, she would have.

But among the many things my mother taught us, one I have realized is that because she wasn’t always there, she taught us to rely on each other and ourselves.

She helped us become strong. And not by telling us directly. She led by example and showed us how to be independent.

She showed us you can be happy without a spouse, and that true happiness comes in the form of giving something back.

She showed me that being a single mom is hard, but adopting is doable and it’s OK to be a little unorthodox.

The best thing my mom gave my sister and I is an example, because she is the best example of unrecognized service and unconditional love.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Early Years.”