Mothers. We all have one or had one. Just the word warms our hearts and brings a flood of images and memories of our moms. For me when I think of my mom, I think of her huge smile , contagious laugh and the midwestern warmth she shared with every person she encountered. She was gracious and kind and her life was all about who was in it and who was in front of her. My mom was joyful.
I have been without her now for 15 Mother’s Days. It is just so crazy to think she was only 60 when her life ended so abruptly, a decade from where I am now. Yet, her legacy to me is the reminder of how precious life is, how you never know when your time will come and to live each day with joy and purpose.
She died as she lived, having fun with friends she loved and cherished. Even in the moments before her death, she was living fully with those she was with. It is this gift and reminder that I hold dear, as I celebrate her and Mother’s Day.
Wishing each of you and your mother’s the gifts of joy, presence, and cherished moments with those you love this Sunday.
This upcoming weekend we will celebrate our moms for Mother’s Day. Last week, I had an incredible conversation with two inspiring mothers, who have taken their journey into motherhood and transformed the lives of hundreds of young mothers in the foster care system. These amazing women founded Alliance of Moms, a non-profit organization whose mission is to break the inter-generational cycle of babies born to teens in foster care.
Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Jules Leyser were both pregnant in 2012, along with three other girlfriends (Danika Charity, Emily Lynch and Kelly Zajfen) all at the same time. For some it was their first child, for others their second or third but the girlfriends all experienced a profound change in becoming mothers. Together they were determined to use that shift in each of them to help other mothers, the most at risk, those in the foster care system.
Yasmine:I was pregnant with my son, having a child makes your heart burst wide open and makes you see everything every differently.I wanted a part of motherhood to be looking out for all children, not just our own. From my previous work withThe Alliance for Children’s Rights,I knew we needed to explore more volunteer opportunities for children’s rights.
Jules: My mother grew up in foster care and was a teen parent at 17. I understood the need to break the cycle, 66% of babies born into foster care become teen moms. I also understood that my child had won a lottery that he didn’t even knew he entered, just by luck. We needed to help support all mothers.
Tell us about when you knew, your work had made a difference?
Yasmine: In July 2014, five of us began exploring this idea of creating an auxiliary group to support The Alliance for Children’s Rights but more than that we wanted a mother to mother, community to community event. Six weeks later, we had our first program, Raising Baby, inviting 70 youth in foster care and their children for a day of fun, educational parenting workshops. We were determined to be there for these moms, when so many have let them down.
While we set out to serve these young women in foster care, our members were also impacted by serving. The women we serve have changed all of our lives for the better because regardless of your circumstances, we all walk away stronger knowing that we all struggle as mothers.
What fuels you to keep doing this work?
Jules: Having a hands on relationship with our pregnant girls and seeing them on an upward trajectory. Knowing that these young mothers are now talking and singing to their unborn children, or reading to their children at bedtime, creating family rituals, and using the little things that we teach them, which have a big impact on their children.
These young parents are motivated to change their lives and their children’s’ and more than that, it is seeing people being kind.
Yasmine: My dream would be to create something sustainable and scalable that we could take outside of Los Angeles and to other communities of mothers across the country. We know and see the value of creating community and a village for mothers.
Jules: My dream would also be to see our program expand to other places and perhaps to help all teen moms. The real dream would be to have the public start seeing these young moms in a different way…with humanity and empathy.
As Yasmine and Jules both said, “We are all different and yet we are all the same. We all want the best for our children, we all get overwhelmed, stressed, worried that we are not doing the right thing. We are all learning about ourselves and our children as we struggle to do our best.”
Over 600 members, hundreds of families and young mothers served and countless lives forever changed by a group of mothers who know what it is to share the love, create an alliance and to inspire us all.
The day after tomorrow is Mother’s Day and many of us are scrambling for last-minute gift ideas. This year I may just have a creative solution that will touch Mom’s heart and be a gift that she remembers.
I wish I could say this amazing idea was mine but it is not. It started back in 2011 when four women, Eva Hausman, Kim Athan, Trish Hazelwood, and Stephanie Norton were inspired after reading the book “Half the Sky” to make their world better. The book chronicled the oppression of women and girls, and how communities were changed when women were empowered.
Shortly after the group learned that over $18 billion dollars is spent annually on Mother’s Day. The combination of the book’s influence and Mother’s Day inspired the women to look at Mother’s Day, as an opportunity to create the Mother’s Day Movement. They began to research small to mid-sized charities, in the fields of education, health care and areas helping women. Each Mother’s Day the women choose a new singular charity/program for the year that would effect positive change for women around the world.
Since 2011, the Mother’s Day Movement donors have raised more than $300,000 to help women and children, dramatically improving the lives of women in the fields of women’s health, education, infant and maternal mortality and clean water. This year’s focus to help stop the slave trade of women and young girls around the globe.
Theses mother’s hope, is to shift the priorities of giving for Mother’s Day. If just a small portion of Mother’s Day gifts went to this year’s program, it would make an enormous impact for women across the globe. So when you go to buy those flowers, perfume or chocolates think about doing something different this year. Consider a gift that would help another mother and make your mom proud.
This weekend we will all celebrate Mother’s Day in some way, either being celebrated or celebrating our mothers. However, the sad reality is that thousands of children will be separated from their mothers because they are in prison. It is estimated that 856,000 children in California have a parent in jail or 9% of the state’s children. These children are victims of their parent’s bad choices and yet still crave the connection with their mothers and fathers.
Fifteen years ago, Sr. Suzanne Stephan and Sr. Suzanne Jabro decided they could make a small step towards helping these children by coordinating a bus that would take 17 children to see their mothers in prison on Mother’s Day. The event was created to bring a much-needed connection for both mother and child and was named Get On The Bus.
Each child is given a travel bag, a photo with his or her parent, and meals for the day. For the emotional trip home, the children are given a teddy bear with a letter from their parent along with post-event counseling.
This weekend, Get on The Bus will serve over 1200 children, take 47 buses to reuniting mothers and children. It will be a Mother’s Day to remember for all.
“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.”
Marion C. Garretty
Where do we learn to do or dream the impossible? Is it nature or nurture? For me, it was nurture….and that is translation for mother. My mom told each of us that we could become anything we wanted and we believed her. So, this weekend as I celebrate 10 years of Spiritual Care and Mothers Day. I only have one person to thank and that is my mom. She believed in me from the beginning and taught me that anything is possible.
I miss her everyday but her lasting legacy is a gift that touches thousands of mothers and children each year.
Tomorrow night is proof that she was right….but I guess all mothers are.
“Mom, when thoughts of you are in our hearts, we are never far from home.”
This weekend is Mother’s Day and its my 10th Mother’s Day without my mom. While it gets easier each year, it is still a bitter-sweet day for me. Our mothers are our life anchors, they root us in ways we never imagine until the roots are pulled up and we must find new roots within ourselves.
This is the sweet part of Mother’s Day, being a mother. The attention is nice, as is the luxury of sleeping in, but more than that is the pride in looking at my sons and the amazing men they are becoming. A day to revel in the decades of work, love, lunches and laundry. This is a day we celebrate love. The love I still have for my mother and the amazing love I receive from being one.
Whichever side of this day you fall, I hope that you are celebrating the love we all share in being a family. There is no greater love than that.
and for those of us without our mothers this Mother’s Day, this one is for you.
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
Thank you to all the moms who showed us how to give and how to care for people other than ourselves. To my angel mom, thank you for showing me by example that Charity Matters. Wishing all of you mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.