My father died when I was 12, leaving my mom with a 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. She pulled herself together and provided for us financially, physically, and emotionally. She worked part-time at the Post Office and scheduled her work so that she could spend time with us and still make the last bus home at night (she didn't drive).
A year after my dad died, my blind grandmother moved in with us. Since my mom was an only child born of an only child, there was no family to help. Thankfully, she had the support of many good friends. The family was the most important thing to my mother - she put all of us first. She courageously and willingly sacrificed for our well-being. We had holes in the carpet, all our pots and pans were on the living room floor catching the rain when it fell, and our clothes were purchased at sales where she got 70% off. Yet, we never felt poor.
I would be a different person if my mother had done anything else. I would have struggled more than I already did (I was a shy, awkward teenager). I would have strayed into behaviors that would have permanently changed my life. Instead, I went to college, married a wonderful man, had a career that was perfect for me, and then I became a stay-at-home mom when I had kids. Mom was right there where I needed her to be. I only hope that she knew how much she was admired, respected, loved and cherished.
Women have more strength than they think they have. They have more support than they realize is around them. And they may not get the words of thanks that they so deserve and need until their kids are much older, but like a tree that is tended well, children will eventually grow and bloom in gratefulness, respect, and emulation of her values and behavior.