How Moms Can Change
Susie Michelle Cortright
was the strangest time to have the blues.
I was preparing to graduate summa cum
laude from a prestigious university. Once
a week, a favorite professor would meet
me in the hallway outside my classroom
with a clipboard of ideas for the things
I could do and achieve in my life. But
the more success I achieved, the less
I cared, and it took me a while to realize
why: everything I did was all about me.
depression amplified my self-centeredness.
I worried incessantly about when I was
going to feel better. How was I going
to make myself feel right again?
for reasons I really can't explain, I
started visiting a bunch of ladies in
a nursing home. I read Edgar Allen Poe
to Dorothy and USA Today to Beth. Edie
loved me to do her fingernails in sunset
red, and Pauline just wanted me to listen
to her talk about her great-grandchildren
who lived far, far away.
I sat listening to their stories, painting
their fingernails, and playing some very
long checkers games, I began to see myself
through their eyes. To these women, I
was a person with value just because I
was sitting there. As demanding as my
days were in those final months of college,
the only thing that really mattered to
anyone was that I showed up at the Candlelight
Lodge at 3:00 p.m. And so I did.
that I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom,
I sometimes feel - perhaps like many of
you - that I don't have anything left
to give at the end of the day. But people
who live their life in service to others
just seem to have that extra "oomph"
of energy when they need it, as though
their work is so important that their
spirit won't allow them to tire so soon.
They have the energy they need to be the
people they need to be.
Who better to change the world than a mother,
with her instinctive capacity for compassion,
empathy, and unconditional love? Here are
a few ways - large and small - that we moms
can make a difference in our world.
Focus on Motherhood
No one knows about living a life of service
quite like a mother. We know that the best
way to nurture ourselves is to nurture other
people. Each day, we dedicate ourselves to
enhancing the future generation. It is not
only our legacy, but also our responsibility.
you frame each chore as something you
do out of love for your family, suddenly
even plunging your hands in soapy dishwater,
slicing the carrots for tonight's stew,
and changing the baby's diaper take on
new meaning. Let us remind one another
that, each day, we all make a contribution
by performing at our personal best.
Online Resources for Making a Difference
Use the Internet to research the issues
you are interested in. Virtually every cause
has a host of websites, information, and specific
calls to action published online. Visit http://www.makeadifferenceday.com
for ideas of projects that match your specific
skills and style of giving.
If you're prone to the holiday blues, helping
someone in need is an effective way to ward
off depression. In fact, RealAge.com reports
that people who volunteer show improvement
in areas such as "life satisfaction,
well-being, and overall health." That's
because, RealAge.com speculates, volunteers
also experience more meaningfulness and social
interaction in their lives.
the isolation many stay-at-home moms experience
from time to time, this social interaction
component is not to be overlooked. You
can meet people your own age by volunteering,
or get a group of friends united in a
cause and spend a guilt-free afternoon
away from the house.
the holiday season, opportunities abound.
Just look in your local paper. Or check
the Internet for ideas and volunteer opportunities.
Voice Your Opinions
Be politically pro-active by writing to your
elected officials and staying up-to-date on
the issues that matter to you.
In the United States, log on to http://www.house.gov
for representative names, contact information,
and bill numbers. In Canada, log on to http://www.canada.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.html
for MP names and contact information.
We women tend to divide our donations among
a number of causes. This year, consider giving
to one or two causes that mean a lot to you,
or combine your contributions with those of
your friends so you can make a real difference.
You can also start your own fundraising drive,
or give holiday gifts by donating in your
friend or relative's name. For ideas and more
tips on effective giving, visit the Women's
we share the wealth, we model a sense
of selflessness to our children. Encourage
them to follow-through by asking that
they give away toys they no longer use,
set aside a portion of their allowance
for needy children, or share their time
by visiting a retirement center or convalescent
home along with you.
Confident parents make wonderful mentors.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters is a national
program in the United States and Canada that
pairs children from single-parent homes with
adult mentors. Similar programs may exist
specific to your area, as well.
children doesn't have to mean joining
an organized effort. Perhaps you know
a child who just needs a little extra
time and attention. And, if you're a stay-at-home
mom, you can simply make sure your home
is the kids' hangout. Then get to know
their friends on a personal level.
Make a personal contribution
Everyone has a special skill that can make
a difference in the world. What's yours? Be
enterprising. Brainstorm ways you can help
others. If you can teach, volunteer to share
your knowledge at your local free university
or at one of the many online education portals.
(For links, see Brain Food ala Carte: A Guide
to the Web's Best Education Portals). If you
can write, pen persuasive letters to the editor
or tutor a child in the skill. Do you know
anyone who doesn't have a place to go for
the holidays? Take them in this year.
around you. What do people in your community
need? If you're ready to make a big commitment,
the world needs foster parents, adoptive
parents, and people willing to speak out
on behalf of mothers and children.
world needs a mother's caring, compassion,
and strength. Let us show the world what
a difference we can make.
Michelle Cortright is the author of
More Energy for Moms and the founder of
a website devoted to helping moms find
peace of mind. She is a writer and full-time
mom whose passion is helping women celebrate
and embrace their role as mothers, while
helping them get in touch with the best
resources for stress-relief.