Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mothers' Day, Dear Mme. Secretary!

All of the past week, as Hillary Rodham Clinton wound up yet another whirlwind tour of Asia,  my thoughts of her were centered on Mothers' Day.   Your first Mothers' Day without your mom is a tough one.  After that they all are, but that first one is especially raw and rough.  It is that worst Mothers' Day that all your life you have known is coming.  If your mom was always your biggest champion and wisest advisor (mine was), you feel her absence on that day even as you rejoice that you were lucky enough to have had such a loyal (if biased)  mom as your cheerleader.  So it did not surprise me when, in closing out her official appearances for the week,  as she accepted yet another award at the New York Women’s Foundation Breakfast early Thursday morning, Mme. Secretary celebrated the woman who was her mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham.

"Even though we are living in a world of virtual reality, nothing substitutes for personal relationships. Nothing can replace that caring from one person passed on to another and another and another.
I learned this lesson very early from my mother, and since we are approaching Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking about her a lot, since I lost her last November. And I was always struck at how despite a life that was much more difficult than anything I’ve ever experienced – abandonment and abuse and just really unfortunate kinds of early experiences – my mother had a resilience and a commitment to her family that she worked hard on every single day. And I often wondered – how did that happen? How could it be that you would be abandoned by your young parents and given responsibility at the age of eight to get on a train in Chicago with your six-year-old sister and take her all by yourselves to California to live with your paternal grandparents? How do you emerge from that emotional turmoil, that vacuum that still today too many children are placed into?
And when I got old enough to understand I remember asking my mother – how did you do this? How did you really survive without being paralyzed or embittered, being able to find from somewhere within the love that you shared and gave to others? And I’ll never forget what she said. She said at critical points in my life somebody showed me kindness; somebody gave me help. (Applause.)
Sometimes it would seem so small, but it would mean so much – the teacher in elementary school who would notice that she never had money to buy milk, who every day would buy two cartons of milk and then say to my mother, “Dorothy, I can’t drink this other carton of milk. Would you like it?” Or the woman who gave her a job in her house when my mother was 13 or 14 because she had to leave her grandparents’ home, and so she went to work as a full-time babysitter. But the deal was that if she got the children up and ready to go to school, then she could still go to high school, and so that’s what she did. And then the woman of this house where she lived would notice that she had only one blouse that she had to wash every day. All of a sudden, the woman would say, “Dorothy, I can’t fit into this blouse anymore and I’d hate to throw it away. Would you like it?”
Now, we think of those things as the kind of just personal connection and kindnesses that we take for granted. And in a time back in the 1920s when there weren’t a lot of formal organizations doing this kind of work, that’s what really mattered. Well, certainly today we still are primarily dependent upon individuals and institutions that are conveying the same level of kindness and caring."
We know that our Hillary learned well the lessons Dorothy taught her, and I have never let a Mothers' Day go by on this blog that I have not expressed thankfulness that this self-effacing woman gave us such a well-nurtured daughter whom so many of us see as the best, brightest, most capable of contemporary leaders.  This one shall be no different.  Thank you so very much, Mrs. Rodham.  I miss you as I miss my own mom.
We also know that our Hillary is an outstanding mom herself.  Like her friend and mentor Jackie Kennedy Onassis, she raised a special daughter whom she managed to protect from the glare of the spotlight even as she allowed her a natural space to bloom and excel.

I love this picture for the look on Chelsea's face and for Hillary's hand on her heart where it so often travels when she speaks of her daughter.

This year, Forbes has named our hard-working, very effective Secretary of State the Number One Power Mom.  Yes, despite all the miles she flies and summits, interviews, town halls,  and ministerials she attends, she still considers being a mom her number one job and the most demanding one she has ever held.

World's 20 Most Powerful Moms

Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff
With Mother’s Day around the corner, ForbesWoman analyzed the annual list of the world’s 100 most powerful women—based on money controlled, decision-making power and multiple measures of influence—and teased out the moms who are at the top of their game. From spheres of government, business, entertainment and philanthropy, these 20 moms rule the roost–and the world.
This year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mom of daughter Chelsea, ranks No. 1. With one of the biggest jobs in the world, Clinton is still a mother first. Two years ago as Chelsea planned to walk down the aisle, Clinton used email to stay abreast of wedding preparations, review photos and offer support. Global diplomacy and duties as a mother-of-the-bride were both “serious, important and stressful” jobs, she said at the time.
Read more >>>>
So this weekend, I once again thank God that Dorothy Rodham raised this awesome daughter, this leader, role model and tireless warrior for women, children, and girls.   I wish that daughter and mom a happy, if  bittersweet Mothers' Day, a long, healthy life, and anything her heart desires for her future.

Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms here!