Yesterday was March 26th, which means that 46 years ago, there was a tiny newborn baby girl lying in a hospital. That little girl was born with a heart defect and given little chance to survive. The doctors claimed that even if she did survive as a baby, the chances of her having kids later in life would near impossible. If either of those scenarios from 46 years ago had played out in the way they were supposed to, I wouldn’t be writing this today.

Never tell my mom the odds.

She survived multiple open heart surgeries as a child. She made it through childhood and high school despite having that physical ailment which prevented her from doing many athletic things. She was married at 18 and had her first child three years later: a perfect, spotless son with uncanny intelligence and dashing good… okay fine it was me. Defying the odds one time, even twice, might satisfy most people, but apparently not my mother. She had not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight, but NINE children. Sound crazy? Absolutely, for sure, no doubt crazy as can be. And my mom did it with a surgically repaired heart.

If that isn’t enough to impress you, I’ve got plenty more. Her children are ages 24, 23, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, and 6 and last year was the first year that she did not homeschool any of them. That’s right, the two oldest, my sister and I, were homeschooled through high school; the third oldest was homeschooled until mid high school, and everyone else was homeschooled until last year when they finally went to the school down the street. Sound like that’s a terrible plan? Yeah it does, but I graduated summa cum laude from my university while my sister is currently getting her masters in psychology. I would say my mom is 2/2 so far, and she still has seven more to find out about.

I also need to explain the hard times too. My family was homeless for a year back in 2010, my mom, dad, and seven children. We stayed at many different houses and even at a homeless shelter for a few months before we found something permanent. She has been a single mom since my dad left at the end of 2012. She was a stay at home mom for 18 years before she finally returned to work. Since then, she has worked multiple jobs. She has worked in retail, banking, and grocery. She went to school for web design for a little while. She currently is a manager at a Party City, which is one of the few time when she has worked a single job at a time; most of the time, she has taken on two or three jobs to help pay for bills.

Don’t get me wrong, she has received a lot of help. Church friends have been beyond gracious. Food Stamps has been essential. Random people have dropped in from time to time to provide some of the biggest blessings of all, such as a new place to stay. She has not been fighting this battle alone.

But with every gift she is given, she gives right back. One of her current missions is talking with the homeless on the streets of Chicago, learning their story, listening what they need, then gathering money to help buy that stuff. She understands the gifts she has been given and wants to give whatever gifts she has to others. The impossibility of her story has caused her to dedicate her life to helping as many people as possible.

I can’t count the number of young people who have been offered shelter in our home for a time because they had no other place to go. She “adopts” them as her children and watches out for them as they go through difficult times. We all call her Mommerz.

46 years ago, a newborn baby girl with a heart condition was lying asleep in hospital bed. 46 years later, the world is a better place because of it.

Happy birthday Mommerz <3