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By Angela Maiers

YouMatter: Two Words Mom Most Wants to Hear

mothers day image

This weekend we celebrate the wonder of motherhood. Mothers give birth to us, feed us, clothe us, raise us to be strong and kind, and then tearfully send us out in the world to make our mark.

Most of us call our mother, some every day, some once a week, and some now and then. We regale her with our accomplishments, gossip a bit, talk about the news, and talk a bit about her life.

There are two words that most of us do not say enough to Mom:


I know what you’re thinking: “My mother doesn’t need to hear this. She raised a bunch of kids and now has grandkids and we all love her, and we tell her that all the time.”

You are so wrong. Yes, mom needs to be told—and shown—that you love her. It’s a “very nice to have.” But in addition to “you matter,” there are three other words she needs to hear, regardless of her age: “We need you.”

This isn’t ego. This is biology. Human beings were created for significance, and the most dangerous feeling your mother can feel is that she doesn’t matter, that no one needs her.

This is commonly and acutely felt among “empty nesters” and retired people. As much as your mother feels relief that she doesn’t have to dress you or watch you cross the street, at the same time, she very likely also feels like she matter less than she once did.

It’s fulfilling to know that there is someone in the world who cares deeply that you wake up each morning and do what mothers do. When the last kid leaves the nest or someone works their last day, their “mattering quotient” (a term I heard from a retired partner of a Big 4 Accounting firm) diminishes right away.

The words “You Matter,” when understood and leveraged in the right way, can change your mother’s life, for good. These words are the fuel she may need  overcome the subtle and overt biases that militate against a woman’s belief that she can have a big impact on the world. These two words serve as an invitation to mothers to follow their passion, wherever it may lead them, to make a difference in this world.

Here is why these two words are so powerful:

  1. YOU MATTER is Affirming

These words are not a statement of inspiration; they are a statement of value. There is a difference between being admired for what you know, and being valued for who you are. Mothers need to know they are essential, to you and to the world.

  1. YOU MATTER is Vision Casting

Mothers, at any age, are on a journey. If their  kids have left home or they have retired, they are figuring out who they are now, and where their place is in this world. These two words are an investment in this process, casting a clear vision for their future and potential.

  1. YOU MATTER is a Call to Action

“You matter” is not an inspiration. It is a call to action; a challenge to your mother to become the kind of citizen this world needs her to be.

When your mother knows she matters, she will be prepared to emulate women such as:

  • Lillian Weber, who at the age of 97, began sewing dresses for young girls in Africa and completed 1,234 over the next four years.
  • Elizabeth Laird, who, at the age of 71, began hugging every soldier at Fort Hood who left for or returned from an overseas mission; she totaled more than 500,000 hugs. One soldier wrote to her: “You gave us just an ounce of humanity before we spent the next year of our lives in a place that was tantamount to hell and devoid of humanity….The gift you gave us is immeasurable.”

If we want mothers to simply think in terms of “How can I earn my paycheck?” or “How can I pass time,” then merely saying “I love you” is fine. However, if as a society, we want to unleash a pool of fierce and determined mothers who ask each morning, “How are we going to change the world?” then we need to let them know they matter. They will accept the challenge and focus their talents and contributions on changing the world.