An Ode To Mothers (and Especially My Own!)

Mother’s Day offers a moment to honor all forms of motherhood we’ve experienced and an opportunity for us to embrace the type of parent we strive to become.

The spirit of Mother’s Day is centered around honoring and celebrating mothers and mother figures worldwide. It’s a day to acknowledge the immense contributions, sacrifices, and love that mothers provide to their children and families. The celebration often involves giving cards, flowers, and gifts, along with spending quality time together to express gratitude and appreciation—basically, it’s the one day moms get to cash in on all those “I’ll clean my room later” promises! It’s also a day for reflecting on the superhero-like importance of motherhood and the role mothers play in shaping individuals and the world around us. The day can evoke a mix of emotions, celebrating positive relationships while also being sensitive to those for whom the day may bring different feelings due to varied personal experiences with motherhood.

I was fortunate to grow up with a loving mother who taught me so much about becoming an independent and well-rounded person.

Though not everyone has a great relationship with their mom, there is still an opportunity here. The shift in generations is where we can stop and choose which parts of our upbringing we want to carry forward into the next generation, and the parts that we want to leave behind. Regardless of their involvement in our lives, our mothers shaped us in ways we can’t even fathom. So today’s post is an ode to all mothers, and especially my own.

Memories of my Mom

Growing up, some of my favorite memories are during holidays. Each Christmas, we’d sit at the kitchen island and watch her bake a ton of different holiday cookies – it was a favorite tradition and something my sisters and I looked forward to every year.

My mom worked as a school secretary at my elementary school and was something of a local celebrity—everyone knew and adored her. The only downside of her working at the school was that I couldn’t get in trouble!

We grew up in Tigard, Oregon and at some point, my parents decided to put in a pool in our backyard – did I mention we lived in Oregon where it rains a lot?  Needless to say, summers were a blast at our house – kids were always welcome over for pool parties in our backyard in the short timeframe we had sun 🙂  Her love for animals was infectious, a passion that she nurtured in me from a young age.

Despite our modest means, my mom worked hard so that we never felt like we went without, crafting a childhood rich with love and care. She’s carried that love over with her grandkids.

Mom’s Influence and Life Lessons

Though she had a difficult upbringing, my mom didn’t talk about it much. I understood very early on that she was doing everything she could to make a better life for us than she had.

Because of her struggle, she emphasized the importance of savings, getting a college education, and having a career and independence.

She advocated hard for me to go to college and was supportive of me when I wanted to study abroad heading into my senior year – this was before cell phones so it was a much bigger deal to support that back then.

Trip to Mt. Hood:  Pictured here are my mom (Esther), my older sister (Dawn) and younger sister (Darcie). I clearly don’t look that thrilled to be in the cold snow!


These lessons taught me so much about the importance of stepping into myself as a person and making my own way in the world. They are lessons I try to teach my own kids. I hope there is a sense of peace for my mom in knowing that her dedication to us resulted in healing certain generational scars.

I’m fortunate both of my parents are healthy and living independently in Arizona. “Nana” as the kids call my mom has become quite the super texter and keeps up to date on all the activities.  She still refers to herself as “Mama Hen” and wants to know what’s going on with her chicks.

So a big thank you, Mom, for being my unwavering cheerleader and for playing such a big role in shaping me into the person I am today. To all the incredible mothers out there, tirelessly doing their best, your strength and love do not go unnoticed.

Happy Mother’s Day.
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Danielle Cullivan

Career Insight Studio

Danielle Cullivan is a seasoned leader in tech with over 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. She is also the creator of Career Insight Studio, a career and lifestyle blog dedicated to providing insights and new perspectives for working women. Danielle lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and high-school-aged son, and visits her college-age daughter as often as possible! 

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