To Be or Not to Be... A Mom

Mother's Day is a time to celebrate the important women in our lives. It's a time to thank moms everywhere for imparting their wisdom and giving their guidance. Across all countries and cultures, one of the most valuable lessons that mothers instill in their children is that life is about choices and the decisions we make. And moms know best, because we make our choices--and then our choices make us. There are daily choices--like what to make for breakfast--and there are long-term choices--like what career to pursue. When it comes down to it, nothing is more important than the ability to determine our own future. And one of the most meaningful life decisions we can make is whether or when to become mothers ourselves.

As I sit down to write this, I realize that not all who read this post are parents. Some of you will plan to have children at a future point in time, or some will make the decision not to have children at all. Of course, no given path is superior. I am the proud stepmother to three amazing children and stepgrandmom to eight beautiful and accomplished grandchildren. I created my own path, and it is my hope that they too will be able to chart their futures -- on their own terms.

Motherhood is a transformational experience, and the decision to become a mother should be a choice that every woman is empowered to make for herself. But not every woman has the opportunity. Today, 225 million women in developing countries want to decide for themselves when and if to have children, but lack access to contraception. When a woman can choose the number of children she wants, the possibilities for her future are infinite. Women who have access to contraception are more likely to have healthier children -- when they are ready, they can go further in school, and they are likely to earn more. I can't think of a more powerful choice than that.

At some point in your life, you may have heard your mother say, "It's your life, so choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly -- but choose." If the choices we make form the foundation for the people we are, let's make sure everyone has the ability to choose their own path.