My mom, Maya, is an amazing woman.
A writer herself, she taught me to love words and language. She published her first of three books when she was 50 years old -- and that same year, she learned how to swim because it was the only thing in the world she was afraid of and she no longer wanted to be afraid of anything.
She sacrificed so much for me, sending me away across the ocean with all their meager savings so that I could attend college here, knowing that I would probably never come back to live on the same continent. Because of our broken immigration system, I was never able to bring my parents to America and so we live now on separate continents.
I know she has missed being close by as my son grew up, and she’s missed being here for my best and worst times. And yet, what she has taught me from far away is what so many mothers across America teach their children: what it means to love, sacrifice and provide.
My mom is so proud that I’ve taken the opportunity given to me and turned it into a lifelong commitment to help others achieve opportunity and justice. Central to that is ensuring dignity and respect for women, including for mothers all over our country.
Today, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s that moment to honor our mothers, the ones who made it possible for us to be where we are, who held our dreams as their dreams and fought to have their children have a better life than they did. Often, that meant struggle, long hours, and heavy responsibilities.
Today, as a mom myself, I know the decks are stacked against too many women who simply aren’t earning what they deserve, are paying too much in childcare, and are fighting back politicians who want to take away our right to plan our own families.
Even though women provide a disproportionate share of caregiving for children and elderly parents, half of all lower-income workers lack paid leave of any kind. Today, in 2016, women still earn only 77 cents on a man’s dollar—and if you’re Latina or African-American, it’s significantly worse. And the majority of low-wage workers in America are women, many of whom are trying to raise kids on far too little.
At a time when only one in five members of Congress are women, it’s no wonder that workplace policies haven’t kept up with the times.
If you send me to Congress, I promise I’ll be standing up for moms. I’ll bring my own personal experience, my track record of bringing women together to demand more, and my legislative experience of ensuring gender equity in every arena so that we pass policies that honor women’s contributions to our economy and our society.
This Mother’s Day, I’m going to call my mother and tell her what her sacrifice has made possible. I’ll tell her about the moms I’m fighting for all over the 7th district.
The Walmart worker who greets customers with a smile while worrying about an ailing elderly father who is home alone because she is not provided any paid leave.
The teacher who sees sick children in her classroom every day because the parents can’t take time off to bring them to a doctor.
The recent college graduate who is shocked – shocked – to learn that her male coworker’s paycheck is larger than her own for no other reason than gender.
The women who depend on Planned Parenthood for vital health services and worry they may be defunded by a male-dominated Republican majority in Congress.
The undocumented housecleaner who wants nothing more for her child than my mother wanted for me, and shakes with fear when she hears raw racism being spewed by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his allies of hate.
This Mother’s Day – thank your mom, then join us in this fight so that all moms – all women – get the support and equal treatment they deserve and need to live up to their potential.
That was my mom’s gift to me. And I am so grateful.
For my mom. For all the moms.
Happy Mother’s Day!