Mike's mother, Carmen

Raising five children, my mom was notorious for pulling the proverbial "all-nighter." Only hers involved packing lunches, ironing uniforms and playing Santa, the Easter Bunny or many other illusive childhood gift givers. As an active son, I had loads of extracurricular activities that required more commitment from my mom than myself. On this Mother's Day, I'd like to thank her for her enthusiasm and dedication to my life, as well as my three sisters and brother. My mother's untiring efforts made us strive to find that one thing that would make us happy in life. In the end, our happiness was closer than we all imagined—it was being with her.

Mike Perrone; Chicago, Illinois
Jennifer Pines and her mother-in-law, Barb

Shortly before I turned 14, I lost my mother to cancer. I grew up yearning for a mother, friend, confidant. I watched my friends go shopping with their moms. I watched them learn about female life from their moms. I watched the relationship between the two grow and blossom into wonderful friendships. I was jealous. I was angry. I was sad. I was lonely.

Flash forward 20 years and I now reap the benefits of a wonderful "mother." My mother-in-law is a god send to me. She has filled such a big gap in my life. She loves me. She treats me like her own. We shop together. We travel together. We have lunch. We talk. We cook. We have our regular "spa days," and so much more.

For years, my mother-in-law lived in another state, yet we somehow were able to strengthen our bond. We were perfect for one another. I needed a mom and she needed a daughter. All the things I longed for, she longed for, too. We have a relationship that stands apart from all the rest. We are not blood. We are in-laws, yet we are in sync.

Jennifer Pines; Dunwoody, Georgia
Areecia's mother

My mom has instilled in me the meaning of being a "strong woman." She has single-handedly managed to raise five kids in the projects, and not once have we ever felt that we were in any way poor. In her most trying times she remained, when we, her kids, didn't act right—she sustained. And when she didn't know where our next meal was coming from, she didn't complain.

She has shown me what it is to know God, and through her I have seen the impact of what having such a wondrous friend can do. My mother has taught me that prayer is one of the most precious gifts that you could ever offer. I can truly say that my mother is my friend, my confidant, and although I'm grown, she continues to be my teacher. With all of my heart, I love my "mamma"!

Areecia White; Oberlin, Pennsylvania
Robyn, her sister, Patti, and her mom

My mom is one of the most unbelievable people a person can meet. She is and always has been a true role model. As a mother she has always taught us to respect ourselves and appreciate what we have. My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2005 and is outliving all the odds. She continues each day to live life to its fullest. She truly exemplifies the saying, "She has cancer, but cancer does not have her." As a mom, she has always gone above and beyond the call of duty for her three children. She is a fantastic mother, wife, friend, grandmother, sister and daughter.

She sat by me last May when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and we did our chemotherapy side by side. She was my rock and has showed me the way to have a positive attitude in life. I think that my mother has an amazing outlook on life—enjoy, be there for one another, love each other and most importantly be yourself. She has always taught us to be who and what we want to be. …

I am fortunate to have her as my mother and my friend. She is a truly outstanding person…my mom = magnificent mom!

Robyn Wolfe; Marlboro, New Jersey
Valentina and her mother, Judi

My mom is, in my opinion, the greatest mom in the world. Her name is Judi. She is caring, generous, brilliant and witty. I grew up in an orphanage in a little town outside of Moscow, Russia. My mom had adopted me when I was three months shy of my seventh birthday. The flight from Russia to America was very long, but also exciting, yet somewhat unknown. She was waiting for me at the airport with presents and a pink teddy bear in her arms. I recognized her from the pictures [and letters] she sent months before, describing what my life would be like once arriving in America. The smile on her face stretched from ear to ear, and there was no denying it was love at first sight.

August 10th will mark our 13th anniversary for how long we have been together. I have learned so much from my mother and am so thankful to her for exposing me to everything I know today. The connection we share is strong [and] it feels as if I was never adopted. I really feel like this is my one and only mother.

Valentina McMahon; Tucson, Arizona
Jennifer Fontana and her mother

What I tell you about my mother is not earth-shattering or never before heard. Mother's are very special people and there are so many out there worthy of mention, but I realized something about my mother—she defines her title to the truest and best definition it can have.

She gives without expecting anything in return. Even my ex-husband would say, "She would give you the shirt off her back in 30-degree weather and convince you she wasn't cold." She puts her family's needs before her own. The only thing that she would ever ask of us is that we do the same for our own children.

She's humble about her people skills, but she could sell an igloo to an Eskimo. She's vivacious, unafraid and will make damn sure that no one gets stepped on. … When it comes to honesty, she will drive 20 minutes back to a store, the next day, when she realized they gave her too much money, only to find out that they wouldn't take it back for fear of disturbing their daily records. This in turn would send her right to the confessional. …

Life is so much brighter with her around. With 46 years of marriage, three children and seven grandchildren, she has given her best and has lived her best life.

Jennifer Fontana; Cooper City, Florida
Leah and her grandmother, Mayjel

My grandmother is my mother. My parents were killed by a drunk driver when I was 4 years old. My grandmother took three kids in that didn't have a mother or a father. She was a mother and a grandmother. She taught me to be strong and that God's ways are not our ways but he had a plan for me and my brother and sister. What makes her so special is she had five children of her own. Then after all them were out of the house, she took us in. At ages 4, 6 and 8. We all had medical problems from the car wreck that killed our parents. [She] would take us to all our doctor's appointments and never complain. … She is getting older now and I just want to say that I love you moma-mamaw!

Leah Hopper; Jacks Creek, Tennessee
Marlene's mother, LaVonne

My mother is a force of nature…goofy and adorably honest. From "put your legs up above your heart" to "squeeze a little lemon in your eye," I never know what she's going to say or where exactly she's moved the couch. Fourteen years ago, a dog followed my mom home. Mandy can barely walk, but she still lights up when she sees my mom. That's exactly how I feel, too. No matter what's going on, when I hear my mom say, "Hello?" in her quirky way, everything feels better.

After I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I moved in with her. She drove me to my appointments and listened to me cry, as I tried to make sense of what was happening to my body. We made meals together. We mowed the lawn. We went to movies and started to talk. She let me swear and sometimes she swore, too. But more than that, she heard me out. We saw each other for our strengths and loved each other more for our vulnerabilities. With her support, I grew stronger and followed my dreams. I moved to Chicago far from my mom. We talk every day, but I miss seeing her face. The next time she visits, she'll bring me a gift. After rummaging through her purse, she'll pull out her middle finger and say, "Take that!" She'll laugh at her own joke as if she's never done it before…and I will, too.

Marlene Kelly; Chicago, Illinois