By Sean C. Molloy
“We need a man in this office. If we get one more dose of estrogen in here, I‘m gonna lose my mind.”
Those words – from the well-seasoned professional who runs the influential Women’s Conference -- were music to my ears. She was looking to hire a man at the Conference headquarters. And that was my “in” to snag an interview for a job.
She wasn’t looking to procure a cure-all “Mary Poppins” or Man Friday for an executive’s office. These down-to-earth women just needed an administrative assistant -- someone to change the water cooler in the office or wrap the occasional gift basket, fabulously.
Nervously I prepared for my interview, out of my carpetbag of tricks, I pulled the crispest pink Brooks Brothers shirt (thanks Dad!), the most ill-fitting dark denim jeans I could squeeze into, and asked my numerous hair stylist friends for suggestions on my current coif. (If I could have afforded it, there would have been teeth bleaching, tanning and even liposuction.)
Armed with my resume of network television assistant endeavors and my snappy personality, I ventured into waters untested by such a bird of so many varied feathers as I thought I was. I hadn’t a clue that the job that I needed and wanted, but was never on my “vision board,” would change my life…and add a few more colors to my proud, feathered frock!
Over a year later, one Women’s Conference under my belt and one approaching very quickly, one Best Buddies Ride down, one Alzheimer’s walk finished, countless hours worked and volunteered with the WE Programs and a year of treasured memories and friendships forged in so many ways, I realize…
Well, ladies and gentlemen…right here at the center of The Women’s Conference community. I thank the good Lord everyday for my life: problems aside or behind me, for my mother, my sisters, my aunts, my nieces, my girlfriends, my extraordinary colleagues, and, of course, this hugely life-changing experience.
P.S.- I cannot wait to see the fall collections on every one of you ladies!
Sean C. Molloy was born and raised in LA, he has a BFA in Cinema from Southern Methodist University and worked for years in network television before finding himself at the center of it all as an Administrative Assistant at the Women's Conference. He enjoys long walks on the beach with his puppy Clancy.
Maria Shriver on the profound power of motherhood and her own experience of being both a mother and a daughter.
We invited you to share your own personal stories about motherhood -- what your mom means to you or what it means to be a mom. The winners receive --
We've chosen the 3 winning comments. They are --
I’ve never felt as powerful as a mother as when I was 8 months pregnant sitting outside of the drug-testing lab with my teenage daughter. I had suspected something was going on with her and was adamant about finding out exactly what. As she screamed at me in the car about how much she hated me, I heard a voice come out of me that said… “Fine. Hate me. You'll hate me when you are 20, you'll hate me when you are 30, and you may hate me for the rest of your life. But, at least you will have a life from which to hate me. I am your mother. I am not your friend. And if you are doing drugs, I’m going to find out and deal with it.”
Our story has a drug-free happy ending and now 2 years later, my daughter is off to college and we are starting to evolve the mom/daughter relationship into a friendship. I love and value the current relationship I have with her, however, I know that if I hadn’t been a mother first to her, we would never be on this path to friendship.
I Love all the wonderful stories of 'Mommie and me,' by people who had warm milk by their bedsides and a fairytale told to them until their eye's were sealed with a loving kiss from Mom. At one time i couldn't stand to hear them. Mothers day was such a difficult time. It use to be, "Bah Hum-bug", on mothers day.
Mothers Day has always been a day of feeling guilty for giving Mom cards that didn't bare an ounce of truth of who we were. If i hadn't had such a great relationship with my own son, the yearly greiving over the relationship i never had with my Mom and achingly longed for, would have been unbearable. Yet as i go and grow through life i become more understanding of Mom's hurt and pain of never being loved by her own Mom. The suicide of my Dad, the loss of my oldest son, didn't help either one of us at all. But, when i tell you how much strength, courage, and love has risen in the midst of this family. Once i decided this generational abusive behavior would stop with me, It did. I was a single parent and my son who is now in law enforcement with a beautiful family. I was determined he would know without a doubt, he is loved. Now, i'm very passionate about leading others to a place of a 'Loving Reality'. I Love my Mom very much and now i know, she couldn't give what she never had.
Have a blessed Mother's Day and know, Love never fails.
I and even more so my sisters are now my mother's mother. As my mother of 8 children in 10 years having just celebrated her 89th birthday is suffering from the early stages of alzheimers disease and her daughters have stepped up to care for her as she spent many years caring for us. I think how ironic this care is as we bath our mother in the same blue cast iron tub she use to bath us....was her hair as she use to wash ours, dress her as she use to dress us and feed her as she to feed us. But the one thing she still does for herself is to apply her make-up. Growing up I will always remember how mom taught us how to use make-up and to never leave the house without lipstick....needless to say my sisters and I always look fabulous when we leave our homes.
Care for our parents comes full cycle. Many questions why we would do this instead of just putting mom in a 'home', but the choice my sisters and I have made is to care for mom as long as possible even as we care for our own families and self. Mom made room for us as we grew and now we are making room for mom. Happy Mothers Day..mom!
Explore the rest of the inspiring motherhood comments below:
In 2003, one of the better places to die of AIDS in Cambodia was in a hospice on the edge of Phnom Penh with an open-air porch and a view of the rice fields. Run by the Maryknoll Missionaries, its 13 beds were always full. It was that year that I approached the photojournalist James Nachtwey to help us inform the world about the suffering exacted by tuberculosis and AIDS and the need for solutions. If people could see with their own eyes the decimated young people, or the infected babies who knew nothing but fever and pain in their short months on earth, perhaps the humanitarian agenda just might be shifted.
In one of the first beds at the hospice, we found a young widow with a shaved head staring at a snapshot of her baby girl, and waiting to die. She was emaciated with very advanced AIDS. Moments before, she had signed the papers to give up her small daughter for adoption—she had no other options.
There were also terrible places to die of AIDS in Cambodia. A priest had taken me to a ward that was a last stop for destitute TB and AIDS patients. With few doctors and nurses and even fewer medical supplies, it was like a dumping ground for the infected poor where mothers and fathers, wives and children had only their touch to lessen the suffering of those they loved.
In one of the rooms of the ward, we found Chia Samouen. From Battambang in the west of the country, he had cleared landmines for a living. At 32, he had survived the minefields but not the visits to prostitutes he made two or three times a month. Samouen was typical of men who leave their village for work in the cities and become infected with HIV and then infect their wives. The husband typically dies first, leaving the wife and a new baby HIV positive. In fact, the majority of new AIDS infections in the world occur in monogamous women and in newborn children whose only crime was to share a heartbeat with their mother.
In addition to HIV infection, Samouen’s lungs were riddled with tuberculosis. And when TB partners with HIV, it becomes the perfect ‘match made in hell’. TB has in fact, been the cause of death in nearly half of the 30 million AIDS deaths that have so far occurred globally, even though TB has been curable with a six to eight month course of therapy since the early 1970s.
Samouen was writhing in pain and holding his belly due to a bleeding ulcer. The pinks of his eyes were stark white indicating that his hemoglobin was extremely low, probably from bleeding. He was unable to drink or eat. His wife had spent all of their money, selling even their small plot of land, to bring him to the hospital, and there was no money left to buy morphine or intravenous fluids.
With a seven-year-old daughter playing quietly in the corner of the room, his wife said she had decided not to abandon him. She would care for him until the end. We brought drugs and went to donate blood but he was too far down one road and the end came a few days later after massive internal bleeding.
Shortly after that visit, the Cambodian Health Committee, the local Cambodian non-governmental organization I co-founded, set out to transform that ward to a place of life and hope. And in the seven years since, over a thousand patients have received AIDS medications and many more have been cured of their TB. It is the major site for an international clinical trial that will determine the optimal approach to treating TB and AIDS and knowledge from this former ‘dying field’ will set global standards.
In the world today there are at least 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS including 2 million children and only 10% of these people have access to drugs. The World Health Organization estimates that there are at least a half million new drug resistant TB cases annually—with less than 50,000 on therapy. Many in fact think the global number of drug resistant TB cases could be in the millions.
That poor people are condemned to die because of a lack of access to life-saving drugs and care for AIDS and TB is the most basic affront to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
Engaging that unique human ability to share the pain of another begins the process of repair. It leads to solutions. As the great Hasidic master Nachman of Bratslav wrote in 1810 before his death from TB at the age of 38, “the whole world is a very narrow bridge…the most important thing is to have no fear at all.”
Anne Goldfeld, a native Californian, is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the co-founder of the Cambodian Health Committee (also known as the Global Health Committee www.globalhealthcommittee.org). Parts of this piece were excerpted from an installation photo/word piece created with James Nachtwey for the photo exhibit ‘Struggle for Life’ presented in Paris, Bangkok, and Berlin.
What’s the biggest risk you ever took, and did it pay off?
Here at The Women’s Conference, we have been incredibly moved and inspired by the responses from our community. We’ve heard from women across generations and around the world who have risked so much and – for the most part - have gained even more. They’ve risked everything -- from walking away from successful careers to pursuing their dreams to leaving relationships and marriages – some abusive; from going into debt to start their own businesses to giving up the comforts of their lives to help others. The courage, resourcefulness and big-heartedness of The Women’s Conference community amaze us.
Below is The Great April Giveaway winning response, as well as the three honorable mentions. These women’s commitment to giving back and to staying true to who they are reminds us that it’s time to believe in ourselves – such that we take those risks that we might otherwise shy away from.
Cherie Davis, 50:
After finally getting my college degree at 36 (the first in my family), I sold everything I could and left a very successful career to backpack around the world at age 36. I went alone, with a one way ticket to Chile, a pack and boots. My purpose would be to help in communities where I could, teach about the environment, work in wildlife sanctuaries and getting to know more about the people that we share this planet with. My focus was especially on the women and I stayed with women in over 33 countries. It meant so much to me for them to share their world with me and to know that I brought something that enriched their lives in one way or another. I often stayed with the poor and helped by providing a little of what money that I had or helping in their fields. I tried to be the best ambassador that I could be for Americans and an example of what women can do. It took 4 years and I returned with my 45 pound pack at the age of 40 years old. I was then sleeping at friends homes, homeless, unemployed and had to start my life over at 40. It was a big risk. My career took more than 6 years to get back on track. It was one of the best thing I had ever done and it served to broaden the horizons of the children that followed me on their maps, friends and family members. My contributions were one family at a time. Women can do anything.....I am proof. Worth it.......I now work in my communities to be a better citizen of our world. I run a green business and know that we all have a bigger role to play outside of ourselves.
In August 05 as I watched Hurricane Katrina decimate New Orleans I hopped on my motorcycle and rode to Louisiana. I had 135 dollars in my pocket, a computer and a full tank of gas. I borrowed a cell phone from a friend. I arrived in New Orleans 4 days later and stayed there for two months rescuing animals, sleeping on top of my motorcycle and helping where ever I was needed. I didn't have a plan but I knew that one American with strong arms and a degree of optimism to spread could lead people who were tired and lost.
It worked, I saved animal lives, I helped heal hearts, I made friends who I will have for a life time and I felt bullet proof after that.
In 2000, I went to Washington, DC to testify before a subcommittee hearing on pediatric cancer research. At age 41, I had never been to Washington before. My 12 year old daughter, Katie, had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and she went with me. After telling my story, and shaking the whole time, the entire room stood up and gave all the kids present a standing ovation for the courage they had to fight the disease. It was out of that experience I dedicated my personal and professional goals to making a difference for other families living with cancer. Today I work for a cancer prevention organization in Alexandria, VA and I strive to make a difference each and every day. Katie passed away in 2001 after a valiant fight. To this day, strangers come up to me to tell me how she made a difference in their lives. I probably never would have come to DC if Katie had not gotten cancer. Now I know courage comes at the most unexpected times.
The biggest risk I've ever taken was coming to terms with my sexuality at 28 (I'm now 31), realizing I was gay and asking for a divorce after almost 5 years of marriage to a man. It was the most difficult decision I had ever made in my life. I was incredibly confused and scared, but knew that I wasn't living the life I wanted. Instead, I was living the life I thought I 'should' by my family (being raised Irish Catholic) and society's standards. I was afraid to admit to myself, never mind my husband (at the time), family, friends and colleagues that I was gay. I didn't know if people would accept me, never mind love me. When I came out, it was the most incredible experience. It felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, which I bared for years. Not only did I find myself and feel confident in who I was, but I found the love and support of family and friends, which I feared I would lose. My risk to be open and honest with myself, paid off in being a happy and confident woman. Had I not done this, I would never have met my partner and fell in love. And for me, love (of self and others) is the greatest pay-off.