Not until I had my own kids did I realize what a feat my parents pulled off in getting me and my six siblings around the dinner table. Every night all nine of us sat, laughed, bickered and questioned the hell out of our parents. Even though I have only three children, I saw early on that that beloved ritual was never going to make it into our daily lives—my kids’ schedules were just too packed and disparate. My work-around—my way for us to actually engage as a family—I discovered one day in bumper-to-bumper L.A. traffic. At the time, my kids were young enough not to complain about all the time spent in the car. As we inched toward some faraway baseball field, the three of them talked about their days, laughed, bickered—and invited me in on all of  it. I was transported back to my childhood dinner table. Thanks…

Whatever kind of mom you are—and whatever kind you had—we see you, and we’re celebrating. This is one of 11 essays in this series. She was the mom with seven kids who wore heels every day, didn’t believe in sneakers or blue jeans and always had her lipstick. She never joined the PTA, became a room parent or a Girl Scout leader. She hung out routinely with her girlfriends like a teenager. And cocktail hour was like Christmas morning for her—every Saturday night. My best friends called her a one-er, because there was no one else like her.  By the grace of God, as she would say, she navigated the mundane and the chaos of our lives. but a part of her clearly refused to lose the woman she was to the mother she’d become. She chose to bring us into her world more than she joined in ours, a…