Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

For Mother's Day, Erika reflects on the multitude of meanings a three-letter word can have: Mom

Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I’d like to offer a moment of thanks and celebration for my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, my sister-in-law, my cousins and aunts and friends and co-workers and neighbors—Happy Mother’s Day to you all, and may you be surrounded by those you love this weekend.

The two reasons that I’m called mom, my daughter Marlowe and my son Dylan, continually remind me that that word, Mom, is oh-so much more than a word.

It’s the “Mom” that gently dances down the stairs each morning, coming from the still-sleepy lips of Dylan who will be predictably sitting at the top waiting for me.

It’s the “MOM!!” that assaults my ears when one, or both, of them feels that some great injustice has been done to them by the other.

It’s the “Moooommmmm!” that run towards me and grabs my heart, always accompanied by the tears of a fresh injury or a fright, and that needs the cuddling that somehow only my body does best.

It’s the “Mom” that gives me important updates about their day and the softer “Mom” that follows an “I love you…”

It’s the “Mommy!!” that cries out from their bedrooms in the middle of the night after a nightmare.

It’s the “Mom-uh” that can barely tolerate being uttered, coming from Marlowe when she gives me a glimpse of what the teenage years will hold.

Yes, “Mom” is a plea, a request, a direction, a command.  “Mom” is a warm blanket ready to engulf you in comfort and safety, and “Mom” is a bucket of cold water in your face.  “Mom” is a map to the universe; “Mom” is everything.

I am utterly humbled to have this job, and so grateful for the chance every day to receive the “Mom!” and the “Mom-uh” and the “Mommy!” and the “Mooommm”s. I am still stunned that they are talking about ME, honestly. Because even now, when I hear “mom” I still first look to my own mother, my first and still steadfast beacon.

So, Mother’s Day is fine, but it’s more a reminder that to be a mother, every day, to Marlowe and Dylan—well, that is the gift.  And to have a mother and a mother-in-law that are so active and positive in our lives and the lives of our children, yes, that too is the gift. And I’m extra mindful of that because of the many ways that a holiday like this can open up wounds of grief and regret and heartache in so many.

May we all remember to love fiercely that which is available to us in our lives when it is available to us.

Happy Mother’s Day.


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.