Happy Mother’s Day! ~ In Honor of Mothers Everywhere
By: Cynthia Cavendish-Carey
This past Sunday marked my 26th Mother’s Day. My son and I are very close, so it was not really a surprise that he would do it up right. He made reservations for a classy brunch followed by a tour of Clayton, Henry Clay Frick’s mansion. He thought of everything: the card, the flowers, time for a quick nap (he knows how much I like my Sunday afternoon naps). The day had me thinking about when he was young … and the kind of man he’s become.
Later that day, we all gathered at my own mother’s house for a family cookout. Three generations of mothers and children. Flowers everywhere to hand out to each mom with children ranging from one to twenty-six. As I watched, the dynamics of these women (and their men) with our young ones, it clicked that mothers (and fathers) are the very first leaders we know and perhaps the most important in our lives.
Parents love, teach, guide, correct … every possible human interaction occurs from day one. My niece (I call her “Squeak”) is just over a year old and is fascinated by rocks. In fact, she likes to eat them and managed to get one in her mouth that I had to pry free with my brother’s help. I’m not sure she got the leadership lesson we tried to impart, but I’m confident that someday she will. Later, my nine-year-old nephew had to be coaxed into sharing his scooter with my two-year old nephew. This same nine-year-old nephew carried the two-year-old out of the woods in the backyard when he was followed, protecting him from harm. And, my fifteen-year-old nephew demonstrated his creativity as he jumped out of his bedroom window when all three of his uncles were chasing him in order to deliver birthday punches. “One or fifteen” was his choice; and, of course, he know that “one” would be far more painful. This was tremendously valuable male interaction (and leadership) that my nephew rarely gets to experience since my sister is a single parent. (Conversely, when I asked him “one or fifteen?” he was pleasantly surprised when it was hugs that I was proffering rather than a fist.) My brother’s step-daughters kept a very close eye on his grandchildren and interacted with them in ways that made me very proud of them.
Observing these every day, inconsequential moments made me realize that sometimes the most meaningful leadership happens in ordinary circumstances and in very small ways. As a society, we’re accustomed to leaders being bigger than life: presidents, CEOs, project leaders, directors, politicians. Certainly, these people are leaders and we need them to be. But, what I observed this Mother’s Day is that we are all of us leaders – from the very old … to the very young.
So, this Mother’s Day, I’m honoring the first leaders any of us ever know and inviting you to also pay tribute to all the leadership lessons your mother, grandmother, aunt, or any female has given you in all things great and small.