Happy Mother’s Day! It’s officially the day to celebrate the crucial role that moms play in our lives.
It’s easy to overlook the many ways your mom has supported you – you’ve probably called her countless times during moments of uncertainty and self-doubt, and she was there to offer encouraging words and reassurance. We often don’t appreciate how much moms do for us until well into adulthood. Even small things – packing lunches for school, attending sports games – take significant time and sacrifice.
My mom grew up in a small town outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. One of four children, she met my dad in college and they got married shortly after graduation. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in child development and became a nursery school teacher.
My mom had no interest in climbing the corporate ladder – she had always wanted to be a mother. Even as a child, she took in the many cats, dogs, rabbits, raccoons and birds that happened to wander into the vicinity of her family’s home. She loved riding horses – her parents owned two, and she fed and cared for them with her brother’s help.
After unsuccessfully trying to conceive for several years, my mom discovered that she was infertile. The news was devastating. All of her friends and relatives were having children, and she worried that she’d never get to raise the family she’d always wanted.
After exploring numerous options, my parents decided to adopt children from South Korea. Over the next decade, they went through the arduous endeavor of bringing my three siblings and me to the U.S. They endured countless interviews and home visits from social workers. They worked through the exhausting naturalization and citizenship processes. Though it was frustrating at times, they knew that nothing worthwhile would ever be easy.
Difficulty always has a purpose. Today, my mom draws strength from her struggle with infertility to help women fighting the same battle. She has turned her pain into something positive. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when life goes awry. It’s harder to find meaning amidst our suffering.
I spoke to my mom frequently while living in New York City. Life was often disheartening and seemed impossible. A few years ago, I called her while walking over the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of an especially difficult work day. After hearing the discouragement in my voice, she gave me an unforgettable piece of advice:
“I remember when I found out that I couldn’t have children. I was so frustrated. I thought, ‘We aren’t bad people, we don’t deserve this.’ For years, I was angry about how unfair it was. We don’t know why it happened…but maybe it did just so I could tell you right now that things work out for good and God has a purpose for everything.”
We live in a world where kindness is often seen as weakness, but my mom’s strength lies in the way she loves – she never gives up on people, she never loses faith. She works tirelessly to improve the lives of those around her.
She taught me that life’s obstacles equip us to help others. You will inevitably cross paths with people facing trials you’ve already endured. Your encouragement and kindness could profoundly impact their lives, while showing you an entirely new perspective and appreciation for all that you’ve overcome.
This Mother’s Day, I encourage women to find female role models in their own lives – women who are doing miraculous things every day. Women who are changing the world with kindness, empathy, love and understanding, who use their pain and experience to alleviate the pain of others.
Women like my mom.
Happy Mother’s Day!
“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”– Abraham Lincoln