Empathy was one of the earliest lessons I remember my mom teaching me. “How would you feel if someone did that to you” or “What do you think someone in their shoes would do?”
I can say with 100% percent certainty that without that crucial lesson from an early age I wouldn’t be the person who I am today. My mom taught me the gift of empathy and I’m forever grateful. It’s lead me down a path of activism and knowledge, compassion and a drive to do better. Always thinking how my actions affected other people for better or for worse.
I’m very lucky to have the mom that I have. I know that some people today have bitter or bittersweet memories of their own mother – including my mom. My grand mom wasn’t the most loving towards my mom, and my grand mom definitely lacked any ability to be empathetic towards my mom, or really anybody else.
My mom could have very easily reflected what she experience (or didn’t experience) from her childhood onto her children. It actually would have made a lot of sense. Luckily, however, it made her determined to instill in her children the importance of thinking of others. Of trying to think like others and trying to understand how they would feel.
My brother teaches math in under-served communities, my sister is focusing on bullying prevention in doctoral work, and I created my own non-profit organization. Yes we could have done all of these things without the kind of mom that we had, but her emphasis on trying to understand others, even if they didn’t think or look like us, was quintessential.
My mom has given many great gifts over the years, but the most important has been the ability to see the world outside of myself and drive to try to make things better than I found it.
Happy Mother’s day Mom, I wouldn’t be where I am without you.