When I was a little girl, I dreamed of all the possibilities I could achieve once I was older. Unlike my other friends, who seemed to know what job they wanted from the early days of elementary school, I was the one who yearly changed her occupation. In grade school, I wanted to be a zookeeper, a teacher, clothing designer, a doctor, but most of all; be a famous singer, actress and author.

I didn’t ever want to be just one occupation!

In middle school, I hoped I could be a restaurant owner, and the owner of an animal rescue. In high school, I explored the ideas of being a marine biologist, a chef or a humane animal educator for the SPCA. Then I “slowed down” when I reached college. My dreaming mind again shifted, considering the options of being a counselor, an interior designer, a nutritionist, an event planner or even a nurse.

Little did I realize that there was an occupation, although unpaid, that included all of these positions and more. It doesn’t require a college degree, but it requires infinite patience and love.

I have become a famous singer each time I hold a crying child and croon out a song that soothes the soul. I’m not followed around by paparazzi, but I’m more than fine with that if I can bring a little musical joy into a child’s heart.

I am a zookeeper and an animal rescue owner with each rescue animal I welcome into my home. My husband rolls his eyes at how many dogs we have. I don’t make a profit from our small menagerie, but when I am snuggled on the couch with warm furry things curled up at my feet, I forget about that part.

I am an award-winning actress every time I keep a calm face with my children when I am threatening to spill over with anger. I can give a smile to them even when my heart is breaking because there’s another bill we haven’t paid and the third baby is on her way.

On those late nights with my oldest (who cries when she has to even look at the numbers on her math homework), I am the one to dry her tears and then shed my own over algebra I have long forgotten. I am her teacher on those nights.

In my home, I design outfits, arrange décor, brainstorm weekend outings for the family to enjoy, plan meals that are healthy and appealing to the picky eaters, and counsel children through hard days at school and sibling rivalries at home. In these respects, I am also a fashion stylist, an interior designer, an event planner, a nutritionist and a counselor.

I stay up late looking up the symptoms of my sick child and administering cures, learning the foundations of nursing. I love animals so much, I teach my children to respect them, and we trek to the pond on warm evenings to poke around at the algae and water bugs. I am a nurse, a humane animal educator and a marine biologist. I am a restaurant owner, serving five different meals at once for each of the family members with special diets and picky taste buds.

I am — a mother.

True mothers aren’t recognized as often as they should be. They do so much to fulfill the needs of their families, they deal with so much (including sibling drama) on a daily basis, and they aren’t paid for any of what they do inside their homes. This is a tribute to all of them.

You are the glue of our society, mothers. You are why families survive. You are why children grow up to love as you did. Thank you for your service. Thank you to those who continue to love and be so many different things. You are the true heroes and deserve to be recognized.

I am not a mother — yet; but I speak for each of you, the beautiful, brave, women. I speak for your varied voices that take care of your families in a world where it is increasingly easier to try not to care. The mothers who genuinely love their families make the hugest difference in the world. As an adult, I can look back on all my mother did and be honored by her many sacrifices. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only — and that is to support the ultimate career. ”

Shout out to the ultimate career.