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Natalie Morales, modern mami: Our mothers, ourselves

Natalie Morales is getting personal about her experiences as a mother in the pages of Latina magazine, where she’s writing a "Modern Mami" column about the challenges facing Latina moms. She talks about her inspiration for the column with Ann Curry on TODAY:

She'll also answer reader questions about being a Latina mom.

Morales was born in Taiwan and spent much of her childhood living overseas, in Panama, Brazil and Spain, as an “Air Force brat.” Her dad is Puerto Rican and her mom is Brazilian. In her first column for Latina, which will hit newsstands Jan. 11, she opens up about her own mother. Penelope Morales was “given up” at age 2 to be raised by her grandmother – Natalie’s great-grandmother – along with 13 other children in a poor household in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Natalie writes:

What my mother wanted most in life, she didn’t have: a loving mother to hug and kiss her, wipe her tears away when she was sad, encourage her when she felt insecure and make her feel like she was the most valuable treasure in life. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like as I try so hard to give that attention and love to my two boys.

It’s amazing how the choices we make as mothers echo through the generations. Clearly, Natalie looks up to her mom as a role model – even though her mom was a traditional homemaker, and Natalie works (quite hard!), she tries to cook dinner for her family every night, just like her mother did. And though she has followed her mother’s example by growing into a strong woman, she also wishes she could reach back in time and give a hug to the vulnerable young girl her mother once was:

 I would love to meet the little girl with the big name and the big, sad, brown eyes to match. I would give her the hug she so clearly craved and reassure her, “Sweetie, don’t worry, you will have it all—and being an amazing mother will be the most important thing you do in life.”

Natalie's story got us thinking: Have you thanked your own mother lately?