The holiday which just passed is a particularly meaningful time for the HR Doctor. I was the only child of a disabled mom who contracted polio as an infant. In fact, “way back then” — in 1912 — the disease was known as “Infantile Paralysis.” Mom was only able to walk with the aid of a full leg brace and a cane, crutches and later, a wheelchair. Her strength in overcoming the obstacles, physical and attitudinal which she encountered earlier in her life inspired my career in human resources, philanthropy and public service.
In fact, it was her effort to establish a tiny charity in Los Angeles in the 1950s, the Handicapped Placement Center, which got me involved in human resource issues in the first place. It also inspired my support for the Americans With Disabilities Act. It is to my mom, and the great many moms around whose silent strength and active advocacy for a better world that this article, originally written several years ago, is dedicated.
Now that many of us have spent Earth Day and Arbor Day in total awe of the power and beauty of Mother Nature in shaping our existence, it is time to focus on the celebration of a much more personal shaper of each of us — our very own mothers. All of us werebrought into the world by a mother. Reproductive sciences may be able to help with in-vitro-fertilization or in screening for genetic diseases, but somewhere along the line, a mom (not to mention a dad) was very heavily involved in the process!
Mothers are amazing creatures. We owe our lives to them and in most cases, the growth and development of our attitudes and behaviors. Though family structure has changed especially fast in recent decades, most single-parent households are headed by moms. Shamelessly reinterpreting a line from the anthem of the British Empire, Land of Hope & Glory, let us consider “How can we extoll thee, we who are born of thee?”
Our mothers, perhaps even more than our dads, introduce us into the world of relationships. They nurture us and support us as we cry tears of joy at a wedding or a graduation. They hug us and comfort us as we cry tears of grief and sadness when we experience something we regard as terrible. They may be the first person we think of when we need to talk to, Skype to, e-mail to, etc. a trusted someone for advice or help. We may even return home to live with them after we have “left home,” as about 20 percent of children between ages 25 and 34 do in our country. (In 1980, in case you are curious, that number was about 11 percent.) They may also later in their lives, live with us, as about 4 percent do.
We often take them for granted or whine incessantly at them as children when we can’t have our way. We may often push them to the brink of insanity with our stubbornness. Yet they are there for us. They change our diapers, sing our lullabies, wipe our noses and see to our needs for food, learning and security. They put up with our “terrible twos” even when that period of annoying behavior lasts well past a one-year period. We often do not appreciate all that they went through for us and how much our lives really represent an extension of their own hopes and dreams. That appreciation may not come until after they have passed away.
It is altogether fitting to create a holiday celebrating mothers, notwithstanding the urging of the greeting card companies. They fully deserve our applause and honor every day of the year!
Mom, for all that you have done for me, for all that you have done that I may never realize and in sincere apology for all the opportunities I missed to be more in your life than I was, I thank you and I award you my personal medal for bravery and service far above and beyond the call! I am what I am because of you.
How can I best extoll thee? I can honor you and the people and causes about which you cared. I can ensure that your life, with all its passion and caring, becomes ingrained in the mind of my own beautiful daughters and granddaughter. I can see that you live on through them and through me.
Rest well, Mother, in the knowledge that you are remembered as a woman of valor and as the shaper of the lives of others.Hero 1