05/11/2012 10:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Doing It for Our Moms

Earlier this month, I got to see an incredible display of motherly love -- it was a reminder of just how strong that can be, and how much it can inspire us to do right in the world for the next generation. EMILY's List was giving Gabriel Giffords the We Are EMILY award, which honors a woman who's inspired other women to service. Obviously, Gabby fit that bill. In fact, the "short list" for consideration was just one name long.

Gabby's mother Gloria was there to accept the award on her behalf. She walked with Gabby up the stairs to the stage, sat with her while women took the mic to praise her courage and strength, and finally, stood at the podium herself to accept her daughter's award.

Gabby beamed at her mom throughout Gloria's speech. Gloria was firm about one thing: Gabby was determined, she was focused, she wasn't done yet. And hearing those words from someone who'd watched her learn to walk -- twice -- you knew it was the truth.

As I sat watching Gloria speak so proudly about her daughter, I thought of my mom. You see, I lost my mom nearly five years ago to breast cancer. She was an incredible mom and taught me so much. She made me who I am today. I strive to make her proud every day and often think what she must be thinking about this political environment we are living in where women are being used as political pawns. She would be saddened. But she would be proud of the women who are standing up.

A record number of Democratic women are running for Senate, and the House field is growing every day. They're running because women want to protect themselves and their families -- we want equal pay, access to basic health care services, and a government that prioritizes the middle class. Republicans are coddling banks and billionaires at the expense of families like mine, and probably like yours. And EMILY's List women are standing up and saying we can do better. Because we can.

Gabby's mom is the kind of Western woman I recognize from growing up in Montana -- the kind to instill in their kids a crystal clear sense of individual freedom, strength in the face of adversity, and serious American-style grit.

It's the kind of year where women all over the country are gonna need every ounce of that strength -- Republicans seem hell-bent on taking away our freedoms, and it's up to us to fight back. But from the strength I saw in the room when Gabby's mom spoke, I know we've got it in us. 2012 is going to be a historic year for Democratic women because we're making it one.

That night, honoring Gabby and Gloria, I wore my mom's necklace feeling she was with me. And I thought of the importance of the sisterhood -- from mother to daughter to grand-daughter, from friends and colleagues, from neighbors and strangers, we are all in this together.

So for our mothers who gave us all they have, let's move this country forward for our daughters and sons.