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A Message for my Mother

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sean+MomOn this Mother’s Day, I want to share a few things I learned from my mom, Sarah.

My mother didn’t have an easy upbringing. Both of her parents were Holocaust survivors who fled from Europe after losing most of their family. They didn’t have a lot, but they built a new life. My mother learned how to speak English by watching cartoons on television. My grandfather found a job as a tailor and my grandmother as a hairdresser.

My mother worked to put herself through college and then medical school. My parents had three kids by their mid-20s, so my mother was an early pioneer in the work-life balance of being a professional woman – in a field of mostly men – while also taking care of three children.

Like many mothers, she sacrificed a lot so that we could have as many opportunities as possible. She made sure that we went to a good public school. No matter how busy she was, she would help me with my homework when she got home from work, and she pushed us to go to great colleges. By investing in us, she taught me what it means to build a better life for one’s family, one generation at a time.

She also taught me what it means to care for others. She’s worked as a family physician in a rural community for more than two decades and has touched countless lives. And I’ve seen how she’s cared for our own family. My grandmother became severely disabled after a surgery to remove a brain tumor, and for six months she came to live with us. I watched as my mother fed my grandmother and woke up each night to bring her to the bathroom. She taught me that charity begins at home.

My mother also inspired my love of running. She ran every morning before work with our dog Kay. As I got older, she encouraged me to join her, and I eventually became an avid runner. I ran my first marathon with her to celebrate her 50th birthday.

My mother wasn’t very political, but she taught me from a young age about our shared responsibility and the collective obligation that we have to take care of one another. That’s shaped who I am today.

On this Mother’s Day, I’m grateful for my own mother and for all the mothers out there who are leading by example everyday.

From my family to yours, happy Mother’s Day!