To all the moms, mothers, moddies, ninis, nibis, zazas, godmothers, and parents—happy Mother’s Day. We know that being a key figure in a child’s life can be beautifully frustrating. Full of love, joy, and more than a few early mornings. Nobody hands out a guide on how to be the best parent you can be—you’ve got to figure it out for yourself. Figure out how your family works. What the child in your life needs and how you can be there for them. This Mother’s Day we want to say thank you. For leading the way. For being the rock at the center of it all.

This Mother’s Day we’re letting three Tomboy moms do the talking. Below they’re sharing the stories of how their families formed, what they’ve learned from the children in their lives, and how they deal with the tough choices.

Angela Hucles on values

Angelica and her child

When I think about the values I want to instill in my child about a thousand and three things just flashed in my mind. If I'm just thinking about one of the most important values that I hope to instill, it would be self-worth. As a mother it's so very easy to see how precious my son is and how incredible he is. I hope he's always able to hold onto that feeling that he's worthy of anything and everything that comes his way and that he wants. I think as adults we too often forget this about ourselves, that each of us hold a special place and value in this world.

Lori Gatto on building a family

Lori and her two daughters

Never in a million years would I dream of finding my children over 5,000 miles away. I became a mom for the first time in Kazakhstan where I adopted biological sisters that were 1 and 3 at the time. It's been ten years and I can't imagine any other way of becoming a mom or being paired with any other children. Regardless of our DNA differences, we are bonded through so much more.

Growing up in Seattle, my children are exposed to a lot of diversity from race and gender to varying abilities. It makes me so proud to see them instinctually view and value people for who they are on the inside, free of discrimination.

Fran Cassata on resilience

Fran with her son Ryan Cassata

One of the most powerful lessons being a parent has taught me is that the power of unconditional love is the strongest force in the universe. With that love, my lust for life is amplified beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

While pregnant with Ryan my health was failing. I was hospitalized often acquiring myself a “frequent flyer” status in the perinatal unit at Stony Brook University Hospital. Leaving my 2 1/2 year old son home with his dad every few weeks was tough. A doctor suggested I consider terminating the pregnancy because there was a very strong chance I, along with my unborn, would not survive. He prompted me to think of the 2 1/2 year old at home growing up without a mother.

I thought about both my unborn child and my oldest child. My lust for life strengthened and I decided to fight with a vengeance. Ryan was born December 13, 1993 and I had another son in 1996. When the universe seems to be against you, NEVER give up hope. Be relentless with your search for the light at the end of the tunnel even when it seems impossible to find. Always reach for the stars and continue to shine!

Tell us, are you a Tomboy mom? Do you have a mother or parent that you’re particularly proud of this Mother’s Day? As always, we want to hear your story.