She and my dad started their family young. But that didn’t stop my mom from pursing happiness, a career, and a strong family. She worked tirelessly (while raising 3 young kids) to get her associates degree in nursing and then started her career. Later in her career, realizing she couldn’t move up into management without a bachelor’s degree, she went back to school. She was the first in our immediate family to get a bachelor’s—a year before I did.
She continued to grow personally and professionally. I watched her evolve into a confident, accomplished, working mother. She realized many of her dreams, continued her education even further (the first in our family to get an MBA), and gave back to society. All this she did with determination, ambition, and compassion.
I say again—my mom is amazing. I’ve learned so much from her. While it’s impossible to list all the things I’ve learned from her, I tried to pick my 10 favorites.
Mom, thank you for teaching me that:
- Unconditional love is the most amazing thing in the universe. I’ve made some poor decisions in my life. There were times I wasn’t living up to my potential. No matter what I did or said however, I knew you were going to be there. Forever. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving me unconditionally.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Whether it was sitting around listening to my younger brother Eric’s jokes or sitting with your group of hilarious friends, you taught me that you can always find a reason to laugh. No matter how dark your day is or what your going through, laughter can lift your mood and start to heal your soul.
- If you want others to respect you, respect yourself first. This is a lesson that I learned later in life by watching you. As you evolved and gained confidence in yourself, I also saw your self-respect increase significantly. I saw how that changed not only how much you accomplished, but how others around you treated you. Self-respect is a powerful force, and I’m so grateful for learning this lesson from you.
- Sometimes you have to make your own mistakes. I didn’t fully understand this lesson until I become a mother and a boss. It’s so easy to step in and “fix” things—but that can do more damage than good. Thank you for knowing the times to step in, and the times to sit back and let me learn through doing.
- I should strive to be better tomorrow than I am today. You never stop improving. You grow, learn and evolve every day. That not only makes you better each day—but it’s one of the (many, many) things that make you interesting! Each morning, when I wake up, I think of this lesson you’ve taught me and ask myself how I will live it.
- Education is a key differentiator. Starting a family so young, it’s safe to say that money and opportunity seemed scarce. But you didn’t accept that. You knew that education was the way to a better life for us. And, no matter how hard it was or how much sleep you sacrificed, you found a way to continue school. As a result, you now live a comfortable life, have a successful career, give back to the nursing community through professional organizations (and are still considering more education!). I remembered all of this as I went through graduate school with my two young girls—an experience that changed my life. Thank you for teaching me the power of education.
- The world is a beautiful mosaic of people—appreciate that beauty without judgement. I never heard you talk about or judge others for what they looked like, where they came from, or what their abilities were. I first realized how powerful of a lesson that was when I changed to a less diverse high school and saw how cruel people could treat others if they were different. Now, in my current job, my mission is to teach an entire company the lesson that you taught me as a kid. I just took that lesson for granted. You were ahead of the times Mom!
- Forgiveness is more powerful and impactful than anger and revenge. There are many times in your life when, had you been a lesser person, you could have chosen a path of anger and revenge. But you didn’t. You always took the high road—even when others wanted you to be angry. You showed me that forgiveness is the faster route to happiness. While this isn’t always the easy path, it is the more powerful and impactful one. Thank you!
- Giving to others is more gratifying than receiving. You constantly give to others. Your career as a nurse, role as a grandmother, and leadership in the nursing community are just some of the areas where I see you give and give. While I remember smiles on your face when you received and opened gifts, I remember bigger smiles on your face when you watched people receive the gift of time, service, or presents that you had given them.
- We are part of a bigger story. We are not a world of one. Whether it’s the bigger story of our family and the generations that brought us to where we are today, our role as a leader in our family, community and workplace, or the broader story of our world as a whole, you’ve reminded me to think beyond myself.
There aren’t words to capture my appreciation for all you have given and taught me. Thank you Mom for being you. You’re amazing and I love you. I hope that I am able to pass these same lessons onto my daughters.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and to all the other mothers out there!