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Bookmark received from my eight-year-old son on Mother’s Day 1993, Brazil

[Translation: I love you a lot – You are the best mother I’ve ever had – I adore you a lot a lot – I will never forget you mother]

We live in challenging times, a period of economic and social upheaval. As mothers, we are oftentimes required to make extreme sacrifices for our children, whether they are our own offspring, grandchildren or adopted.

Today, on Mother’s Day, let us remember mothers who have lost their jobs and homes and struggle to provide for their children.

Let us remember mothers who have put their lives on hold to save a son or daughter trapped in alcohol or drug addiction.

Let us remember mothers who also care for their aging mother or mother-in-law.

Let us remember mothers who have lost a son or daughter and continue to mourn their untimely passing.

Let us remember mothers who have cancer or other life-threatening disease and fear for the future of their young children.

Let us remember mothers trapped in violent and abusive relationships.

Let us remember mothers mistreated, neglected or killed by their own offspring or the children they raised.

With motherhood comes great responsibility. During my years in Brazil when I raised my two sons alone, I recall a Mother’s Day that I lamented the burden of motherhood. I could think of nothing to celebrate. But there came a time when I realized that my sons were my greatest treasure; that being a mother made me more joyful, more caring, more compassionate, and more connected with others.

If the burden of motherhood weighs heavily upon you at this moment in your life, know that it provides you with an opportunity to develop your true greatness. Forced to raise my sons alone, I found my inner strength and courage, my capacity to overcome each obstacle along the way, and to triumph.

Just for today, celebrate the fragile joy of motherhood.