In Just Who Will You Be?, Maria writes, "I was raised in a family that equated self-worth with personal achievement. … I had been taught that if you weren't doing, if you weren't serving, if you weren't accomplishing and accomplishing big, then you really weren't being. You weren't even seen."
Life's ups and downs have taught her a different lesson. "I've discovered that actually being seen for who you are, not for what you do, is probably the greatest gift anybody can give you," she says.
These revelations have changed the way Maria parents her children and interacts with her aging parents. "I have learned now to dial it back, to try to work to just be with my children, to actually look at who they are individually," she says. "I have found a new gentleness and kindness in myself, for myself and for others."
When Eunice was hospitalized after suffering several strokes, Maria says she came to a profound realization. Instead of battling the hospital administration, she says she realized the best thing she could do for her mother was mother her. "I now hug my mother all the time," she says. "I tell her that I love her."
Maria says her mother and father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, may be in their late 80s, but they're still fighting.