We have just passed May 12, 2019. As a nation, we celebrated Mother’s Day. Some of us also recognized the day as Florence Nightingale’s birthday. While remembering all of the sacrifices my mother has made in her life for our family as a whole and the specific sacrifices she has made for my brother and me individually, I cannot help but be more grateful than I can say. I know full well that I would not be here to honor her without her self-giving love throughout my life.
The coincidence of Mother’s Day with Nightingale’s birthday, which also marks the end of National Nurses Week, is fitting in many ways. Mothers are our first and most intimate caregivers. In healthy mother-child relationships, mothers attend to whole-person care of the young. However, women are also often more likely to commit to providing care for aging parents, reversing the roles of the mother-child relationship. Along the way, they are often called upon to extend care to those outside their families in their network of relationships.
Nightingale echoed this lifelong series of caregiver roles through statements in her Notes on Nursing to the effect that, at some time in the life of every woman, she is given charge over the care of the sick. By many accounts, Nightingale seems to have believed that women are better suited than men to the work of nursing. Whether this is true or not is debatable, of course. However, given the predominance of women in the profession of nursing, on a day when both mothers and nurses are honored, we are clearly justified in honoring the women in our lives who serve in either or both capacities.
So thank you mothers, and thank you nurses, for all of the ways you have enriched our lives and helped us to flourish. We quite literally cannot do without you.