You’re a Gift, Susan Doles

February 1 should be considered a national holiday.

“Why is this day so special, Kelly Doles?” You might ask…


I love to celebrate birthdays in general, but I especially love celebrating the birthdays of those who I love, so naturally my mom’s birthday is a big deal to me. Now, there is absolutely no way I could ever afford the deluxe tropical island that my mother deserves (we’re counting on Tommy to secure a future presidency and help us make that dream a reality…unfortunately we have to wait until he turns 35 and is legally able to run), so I had to opt for a plan B present: my words.

As a college student who is ballin’ on a budget and possesses a strong love for writing, I often turn to writing as my form of gift-giving. Sometimes I give cards, short stories, poems, or vignettes, but recently I have opted for blog tributes. Why? I have been blessed with an incredible circle of friends and family members, and I think it’s important to publicly highlight the unique qualities that makes these people so special to me, because in the rush of life, I think we sometimes miss out pausing to genuinely notice and appreciate others and the lessons we can learn from them.

So, without further ado, I present to you, the Top Four Reasons Susan Doles=GOALS.

1. Susan Doles has an appreciation for beauty:


My mom has this sixth sense for all that is lovely in the world, and she finds it in the most unlikely places. She’s the kind of person who will be shopping at Meijer and halt her grocery expedition to smell the different shampoos, and call us over to show us our favorite (even though she clearly won’t buy it unless it’s on sale). Susan Doles is a strong advocate for colorful sunsets, fragrant flowers, and sweet desserts; but she doesn’t stop at enjoying these for herself—she is always sure to point out life’s precious details to us.

Some of my first memories with my mom include her pointing out the stars on a clear winter night while in a driveway of a family friend, smelling her the colorful flowers in her garden, and eating handfuls of cookie dough together while making Christmas cookies.

Half of our family’s home videos take brief intermissions where the camera defects from the moment at hand (like Julie learning to walk) to show the pretty sunset or cute squirrel that caught her eye, complete with a narration of just how wonderful small rodents and firey skies truly are.

Even to this day, I can count on a regular stream of SnapChats indicating the sparkly snow she saw on her evening walk. It is my mom’s love for the small details of daily life that has taught me to see each day as a dazzling gift rather than a to-do list.

2. Susan Doles is imaginative:


One of my favorite things about my mom is just how she seamlessly infuses creativity into everything. When we were kids, she would find ways to turn everything into a game. As a kid, during the summer, a typical Monday lunch would turn into a game of restaurant, where my mom would take the “orders” of my siblings and my friends, wrapping juicy burgers in tinfoil and placing them in paper bags with french fries, and delivering them to our Little Tykes table on the deck.

A snow day would transform into an arctic adventure of climbing Mount Everest and sledding with snow dogs (AKA our puppy), ending the adventure with a cup of hot chocolate at the “lodge.”

My mom was never sitting on the edge of the pool worrying about her hair, but diving into the chlorinated blue waters with my siblings and me, playing the role of our pet dolphin in a game of mermaids. Tooth fairy visits were marked by trails of glitter sprinkled across our pillows, through the hallways, down the stairs, and to our garden, joined by tiny notes left in delicate cursive writing, signed by, “Trixie Greenleaf.”

My mom’s talent for making each day explode with magic has left me with a deep sense of wonder, joy, and memories when I reflect on my childhood, and it is my greatest hope that I can give my kids the same experience one day.

3. Susan Doles is tough:


Fiercely independent, incredibly confident, and way too smart for her own good, my mom is no pushover. The older I get, the more I appreciate this. My mom never tried to be the “cool mom.”

There were times when we butted heads over my curfew, argued about sleepovers I wasn’t allowed to attend, or complained about the “No TV until you’ve either read or exercised for half an hour rule,” but now I am so thankful for a mom who loved me enough to prioritize her role as my parent over her role as my friend. My mom cares about me more than she cares about me liking her, and I am just now realizing how much this has shaped my siblings and me.

4. Susan Doles is actually the best mom ever:


Yeah, yeah, it may be biased, but I’m pretty convinced that it’s true (I wouldn’t recommend that you try and argue with me on this one though)! In retrospect, there are so many valuable lessons my mom passed down to my siblings and me.

As a kid, whenever I fell (which is a lot, if you are familiar with my lifelong struggle as a clumsy human), my mom didn’t rushed to coddle me and make a big deal out of a scraped knee; she would calmly say, “You’re tough, Kelly, hop back up!” My mom taught me to be tough; she showed me how to handle pain and disappointments with poise instead of letting them keep me down or make me bitter.IMG_5802

IMG_8204My mom also taught her children that boys are allowed to be softhearted and creative, and girls are allowed to be self-sufficient; whenever a leaky sink popped up in the house, it was my mom who would reach for the tool box and do the repairs, and she was never bothered when my brothers tried on my dress-up clothes or wanted to have tea parties with stuffed animals.

My mom lived out all of the lessons she wanted to teach us; instead of telling my sister and me to date someone who will treat us right, my mom chose to marry someone who embodies the qualities we look for.IMG_8212

My mom never told my siblings and me not to drink; she just chose to never drink in front of us. My mom never told me not to wear makeup, but she just chooses not to wear it on a regular basis.

So cheers to Susan Doles, a woman worth celebrating—and while this post isn’t the tropical island she deserves, it it gives a little glimpse of the degree to which she deserves that island. Happy Birthday, Susan Doles! The world wouldn’t be the same without the sweet, sassy, sparkly footprints you leave each and every day.


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