What Mother’s Day can mean

My mother made possible so much of my life. She ensured I was prepared for all that I wanted to do – or had to do – as a child. My mom had the strength to lead in our family even when we did not listen or talk in ways that were, let’s say, filled with the appropriate perspective.

In the communities we serve – the low-income communities and the very low-income communities – mothers have to be even stronger than what my mother had to be. More than 80% of the families we meet each day are led by single mothers. These moms are often struggling to stay in or furnish a home, to find food and clothing. These mothers are stressed; they share how they are teetering on being completely overwhelmed. These moms can be as different from one another as moms in other neighborhoods, but they do share the fact that they are severely under-prepared for a life of independence. They feel the pain of dependence and of living without what comes naturally for so many other moms and families.

Some (in fact, many) became mothers before they were finished being kids. They got pregnant in environments where pregnancy was not unusual for 14- and 15-year olds. Before that, as young children, these mothers started far behind other young girls.

Of course, once they become moms, these women often bring out a “grit” that most of us never have to summon from inside. They have to find incredible strength inside. They also feel pain many of us never feel. They live day-to-day stressed about where their kids are or what to do once their kid either gets shot, shoots, or does something that will steal their lives or their potential.

These mothers are our mothers. To honor this day, we must commit to their lives.

And if we commit to our fellow human beings – if we commit to helping them rise out of poverty and we go after it with all of our love and compassion – we can change their day-to-day lives, and perhaps bring more hope for what the futures can be for their children.

On Mother’s Day, let’s widen our view of who our mothers are, and let’s commit with more force than ever before to the woman on the corner asking for money or to the woman trying to raise a family in a war-zone of a neighborhood. Let’s commit to finding other means for them to support their families and commit to helping them change the neighborhoods in which they find themselves.

That is how we can show our love for the mothers of the world. That is how we can make Mother’s Day even more special.

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