It’s that time of year again when we celebrate motherhood and the incredible women who have come before us.

But it’s not just mothers we celebrate, it’s all women everywhere. Women who have made a difference in the life of another because of their kindness, their wisdom, their encouragement, and their love. defines motherhood as “the qualities or spirit of a mother,” or “having or relating to an inherent worthiness, justness, or goodness that is obvious or unarguable.”

By this definition, women everywhere are perfect examples of motherhood.

In other words, you don’t have to be a mother to mother someone else.

So many women fit this definition, including my own mother.

I love my mom.

She’s a fighter in her own right. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania on a small farm. They grew everything, canned everything, and ate everything they grew and canned. Her mother had a sixth-grade education and her father worked in the coal mines and at a local brewery.

My mom saw a library for the first time in tenth grade. That was a turning point for her. She knew she wanted a higher education and had the grit to make it happen. She worked for a local family taking care of their kids so that she could save up enough money to go to college. She worked her butt off and was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh in 1957.

My mom worked three jobs while in college. She was admitted to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 1965. There were one hundred and twenty people in her medical school class. One hundred and fifteen of them were men. She was one of five women. As a child, I never considered boundaries in my decision-making because my mother had broken every ceiling.

My mother has been the greatest example of motherhood to me.

But motherhood isn’t just about mothers. It’s about the characteristics that define so many women everywhere.

As I’ve thought about the above definition of motherhood, I’d like to share five characteristics that have made a difference in my life.

Motherhood is living life side by side with someone else.

Living life side by side with my children has taught me valuable lessons about myself, humanity, and the world.

But I’ve also learned lessons that have strengthened and shaped my life living life side by side with my friends, my spouse, my sister, and my colleagues.

I have learned to love deeper, work harder, and forgive more.

I have also learned to be grateful, to see the positive side of things, and to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I have learned that strength comes in numbers, and we are meant to help one another on our journey through life. That’s where some of our greatest joys come from.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes walking with someone else is incredibly difficult. But even in the hard, I have walked with some of the greatest humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and growing with.

Regardless of whether or not you are a mother, everyone can walk side by side with someone else.

Motherhood is finding joy in seeing others grow into themselves.

As a mother, there is nothing I love more than seeing my children grow into good humans. It has been incredibly fulfilling to see them reach for their goals and to step out in the world with courage and confidence.

But you don’t have to be a mother to help people grow into their best selves. There are so many people out there who are looking for what you have to offer.

Motherhood is about sharing what you know to help someone else learn and grow. Whether you do that as a mentor, a coach, a counselor, or a friend, helping people become their best selves is the epitome of motherhood.

Motherhood is sharing stories and connecting with others.

As a mother, I love sharing stories with my children. I share the stories of how they were born and their adoption stories. I share stories about what they were like as young children like when Ari saw a light switch for the first time, or how Noah cried on the plane. Sometimes I even like sharing embarrassing stories so we can look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of it together.

I also love sharing stories about my Jewish heritage to help my children learn the importance of being the good for the world. It’s about connection and about feeling a sense of responsibility to be the best for the world.

But you don’t have to be a mother to share your stories and connect with others. We all have a story to tell that can teach lessons and create connections for those around us.

Your story and the experience you have gained throughout your life can provide others with the motivation and inspiration they need to go out there and make their own stories happen.

Motherhood is loving others even when it’s hard.

You know that old saying, “You have a face only a mother can love?” While I’m not a fan of the saying, there is some truth that a mother’s love can see past appearances and hits people squarely in the heart.

I know that as a mother, there is nothing my child can do that would negate my love for them. My love is simply there—no matter what.

But you don’t have to be a mother to love people. Love is something we all have to give. And if we learned to love a little better, imagine all the good that we could do.

This world needs more people who are willing to love and care for those who are needy and lost.

I just spent some time on the border of a war zone and the love I felt for those people was indescribable. I wanted to help them, and I wanted to ease their suffering.  

Loving others is looking past the barriers, shooting straight for the heart, and seeing the goodness that comes from within.

Motherhood is making a difference in the world.

One of my favorite things about motherhood is knowing that my efforts are making a difference in the world. For over two decades, I have watched my children learn and grow. I have kissed their wounds and comforted their tears. I have championed their accomplishments and encouraged their dreams.

And now, as my children leave home and forge their own paths, they are good humans trying their best to be the good for the world. Although they are each their own unique person, I know that my motherhood has been a big part of their journey.

No matter who you are, you have the ability to touch a life. And that life will then go out and touch another life, and another, and another. And it goes on and on and on.

It’s leaving a legacy that you would be proud of and shepherding others on a path that will lead them to the greatest version of themselves.

Motherhood isn’t just about mothers. It’s about leaving the world with goodness that is obvious and unarguably good.

Motherhood is about being the good for the world and teaching others how to be the good too.

It’s about living, loving, sharing, and giving—that’s where life’s greatest joy is found.

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