Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is Chair of the House Republican Conference and represents the 5th Congressional District of Washington. She is married to Brian Rodgers, and they have three children: Cole (8), Grace (4), and Brynn (1).
She wrote the following letter as part of TIME’s Letters from Mom series:
To Cole, Grace and Brynn
A few minutes before I delivered the response to the State of the Union last year, someone behind the camera told me to close my eyes and think about the people I love most in this world. There you were—all three of you, right there in the center of my heart—reminding me why I am here. You ground me. You motivate me. You have made me a better person and a better legislator. And you teach me every single day that the best and most beautiful part of life is being a mom.
When I was a little girl—not much older than you are now—I looked at my own mom with the eyes of wonder. Forty years later, I still do. My mom sacrificed everything for my brother and me. She taught me so many things—about life, love, faith, ambition, and family—and she instilled in me the desire to have my own kids one day. Your grandma used to tell me, “Cathy! One day you’ll become a parent and you’ll see what I mean: there’s nothing in the world that compares to being a mom.” And boy was she right.
While my path to motherhood has been a little bit different than my mom’s, I hope I give all of you the same unconditional love she has always given to me. I was single when I was first elected to Congress—and at 35 years old, I had given up the hope that I’d find my own “Mr. Wonderful,” get married, and have a family. (And for the record, being in Congress doesn’t make dating any easier.) That all changed when I met your dad, who reminded me that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Since then, we have had the three of you—Cole, Grace, and Brynn—each of you a joyful and irreplaceable blessing.
Cole, when you were born with that extra twenty-first chromosome, you opened my eyes to the boundless potential that exists within every human life. You have led me to champion the noble work of the disability community—one for which I will be forever grateful—and you’ve taught me that everyone should be defined by their abilities, not their disabilities. Grace, my first daughter, you have introduced me to the most nurturing and maternal and imaginative four-year-old I have ever known. And Brynn, our Thanksgiving baby, you just melt my heart. When I come home every night to see the way your brother and sister look at you, I can feel the most beautiful form of God’s love.
People often ask me why I do what I do, what motivates me to serve in Congress, and what guides the decisions I make for the people of Eastern Washington. My answer to them? The three of you. I am here so that one day—long after I’m gone—you and your kids will have more opportunities than I did. So you’ll know what it’s like to live in a world where you are not defined by your limits, but by your potential. That is what I want to leave behind for you.
As you grow up, here’s my advice for you: Be kind to everyone. Believe in God. Lead a life of purpose. Take risks. Find the silver linings and look for the good in people. Be courageous. Follow your heart. And live a big life. On Mothers’ Day, I thank you for making me a mom and giving me the greatest and most inexpressible joy I will ever know.
All my love,