Listen to My Mom, and Help Save a Life

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Photo by Kristin van Ogtrop

I can’t tell you how many times during my childhood, when I was in the middle of a late-day meltdown, or identity crisis, or dramatic, my-heart-is-breaking crying jag, my mother would say to me, “Everything will be better in the morning.” And you know what? She was right.

As the mother of three strong daughters, my mother consistently broadcast the message that my sisters and I were the equals of any boys, could chart our own paths, could overcome all limitations. Any smart mother of three girls was saying all those things during the Feminine Mystique years. Despite all of those important, affirming messages, though, it turns out that “Everything will be better in the morning” is the best advice she ever gave me.

We are morning people in my family and, even on my worst days, the period between 6 and 11 a.m. is usually the best part. (Sometimes things rapidly go downhill from there, which is a story for another time.) But my mother was talking about more than energy level and circadian rhythm. “Everything will be better in the morning” is also an expression of the unshakable belief that the future will be an improvement upon the past. It is about faith and determination and progress.

I now have three children of my own, all boys. They are 17, 14 and 6. I have said “everything will be better in the morning” more times than I can count. Including, for example, when one of my boys would get a routine childhood vaccination (or, I should say, a childhood vaccination that is routine in our corner of the world) and develop a low-grade fever later in the day. I would give the newly-vaccinated boy some acetaminophen and we’d lie together on the sofa and watch Finding Nemo for the 80th time. And the next morning, of course, everything would be better. The fever would be gone, and so would the risk that my son might contract a particular illness that could kill him.

Everything will be better in the morning: I want each child on this planet to have that same chance. I want each child on the planet to have to suffer a low-grade, non-life-threatening fever as a consequence of receiving a life-saving vaccination.

Real Simple is proud and honored to be the media partner of Shot@Life. As a mother, and as my mother’s daughter, I know this is a campaign that combines faith and determination to make real progress. For countless families across the world, vaccinations will indeed guarantee a dramatic improvement upon the past. Can it really be that easy? Yes—as easy as bidding goodbye to one day, and starting a better one the next morning.

The photo above is of my mother and me—I’m in her wedding dress; she’s in her going-away outfit—the summer before I got married. We’re standing at the front door of the Delaware house where I grew up.