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For Tamara and All The Other Amazing Mothers Out There

Talking about my mother, Tamara, is always a very emotional topic for me. There is not one person who knows me, even just a little bit, who is confused about where my mom sits in my life. I care for my mother in such an incredible way. In fact, I’ve been thinking about writing a book called Perfectly Parented just because I feel like she raised me in the most amazing way possible.

Mom, you are literally the most amazing person I know.

Let me tell you about my mom. She grew up in the Soviet Union in the late 50s, 60s, and 70s. For those who are unaware, the Soviet Union was an extremely unhappy place back then as it was facing enormous cultural and political issues. A lot of our family members were killed and I couldn’t imagine the hardships and heartbreak they faced. She lost her own mother at 5 years old.The struggles that she and my grandfather had to endure were incredibly intense and I can’t imagine how strong they had to be.

She got married at a young age, having me by 20 years old, and then picked up and moved to America with her amazingly courageous husband and his family. Her brother went to Israel and my grandfather, unfortunately, passed away before he could move.

By the age of 25, she was left without either of her parents. She had just moved to a country where she couldn’t speak the language and now had two young children to care for (my sister, Liz, was born when we first came to the U.S.). All the while, my father Sasha, was trying to “make it” for our family by working 15-hours a days.

In those 25 years, my mother dealt with so much adversity–more than I have ever dealt with in my own life. It’s not even close and I’m embarrassed to even try to compare. And you know what the most attractive part of it is? She faces it all without a complaint. That’s how incredible she is.

Ever since I was born, my mother has executed on some of the greatest parenting work of all time. I believe she parents at a level that every single mother in the world should aspire to. At that young of an age, she navigated her family in their transition to America, supported her hardworking husband, and became the emotional bedrock for her children and extended family.

She was (and still is) the perfect mother to me, Liz, and AJ. She so skillfully employed empathy, self-awareness, and gratitude at the highest level (all the things I try to encourage others to do). She was able to map and reverse engineer all of her children. Even though each of us had very different personalities and needs, she was able to figure out the best for each of us.

It’s so easy for me not to get a big head because of how much I recognize that my success is 100% attributable to how I was raised. It’s not hard for me to stay grounded. My mother taught me how to believe in myself the most, while still allowing me to recognize the value in others. She always supported and cheered me on for the right things, but never felt the need to award me with “8th place trophies.” She downplayed the things that she knew didn’t matter as much for me (like school) while also teaching me to respect them at the same time (i.e., I couldn’t run wild in school or curse my teachers). And when I did do something wrong, she gave the appropriate repercussions. She gave me the perfect mix of freedom, support, acknowledgement and, most importantly, was able to see my strengths and encouraged me to play to them.

I cherish you so much, Mom.

My ability and desire to bring value to people–to my audience, my employees, my family, the world–comes from my mom.

She is an incredible woman who continues to inspire me every single day. I wish she wasn’t so shy (because of her accent and her DNA) because she would provide enormous amounts of value to all of you like she did for me, Liz, and AJ. If you think I provide any value, imagine what the person who built me is like.

I just really love you so, so, so much, Mom. I just want everyone to know.

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