Matt Beard—Tracey Mattingly Agency

It seems like just yesterday, Emma, that you made me a mom—an experience so life changing, I can’t remember life before I was a mom. So transformative, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recognize my pre-parent thoughts or dreams or aspirations or priorities. Who was I before you emerged from my womb and entered my world? I probably wouldn’t know that (very young) woman if I tripped over her.

Becoming a mom was, at once, exhilarating and terrifying. I was oh-so-ready, and oh-so-unprepared. Holding you tentatively for the first time, breathing in your sweetness, marveling at your perfect ten of fingers and toes, staring into your eyes, still puffy from hours of fighting your way through the tight confines of my birth canal, I was overwhelmed first by how tiny and helpless you were—then, by how vast the responsibility was that had just been handed to me.

Two years and a few months later, Wyatt, you doubled my responsibility (which fortunately, I shared equally with the world’s most nurturing man, your dad). And there were a few hits, a few misses, and even a few really, really near-misses over the years. There were many ups, some downs (age 13 comes to mind for you, Emma, and 16 almost did us in with you, Wyatt), but ultimately, it turns out, we managed to raise two fully awesome humans. Caring, compassionate, head on straight, hearts in just the right spot, funny, fabulous, and grown in a blink of an eye—and best of all, already providing us with parenting’s grand prize, our first grandson. Talk about as good as it gets: the baby who made me a mom has herself become a mom.

So technically, my day-to-day days of being a mom—you know, the breastfeeding, the diaper changing, the lunch box filling, the kissing-and-making-it-better, the bedtime cuddling, the homework policing—are over. Not sure I aced it, but I got through it— and I loved it, and I miss it.

But the responsibility continues. Because if, as I always say, motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood, then we are responsible not only for the children we’re handed at birth (or at adoption, or surrogacy), but for all the world’s children.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: we moms share a bond that ties us together in the face of differences that many are convinced should divide us. No matter what our socioeconomic, religious, racial, cultural profile, no matter where on this beautiful but troubled planet we live, every mom among us (like every dad) wants what’s best for her baby.

I’ve met (and hugged) a lot of moms, in a lot of very different places, and what’s best is clearly relative. To South Sudanese moms in PoC camps and to Syrian moms in refugee camps, it means keeping their babies safe—protected in nations torn apart by war, unrelenting violence, displacement, disease, hunger. To military moms with partners serving in war zones, it means hoping that daddy will come home safely from deployments—and in time for first cuddles or first steps. To many moms across our own country, it means struggling to buy diapers, choosing between medicine for their children or meals for themselves, working too hard for too little and coming up too short—doing the best they can under circumstances that make my own days of motherhood a cake walk.

Having children made me a mom—and ultimately, a grandmom, for which I am immensely grateful. But it also made me acutely aware of how counting my own many blessings isn’t enough. The world’s children are our shared responsibility—and our collective future depends on their collective health, happiness, security, and wellbeing.

This Mother’s Day, let’s start making moms and babies the priority they should be, but far too often, aren’t. Let’s fund maternal child health programs proven to lower maternal and infant mortality and food programs that feed expectant moms and their little ones, ensure that water supplies are safe in every community, provide access to contraception so women can safely space pregnancies, join the rest of the world in supporting new parents through paid family leave, fair pay and a living wage, policies that make breastfeeding the easy choice, and quality childcare and universal pre-K—nurturing our nurturers so they can better nurture our future.

Let’s take our responsibility seriously—and let’s help every mom give her baby the best.

With big hugs,
Heidi (aka mom)

Murkoff is the author of the best-selling book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, now in its fifth edition

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