“Ohana” Means No Mama Gets Left Behind or Forgotten

Ohana, a term made wildly popular to a broader audience by the beloved children’s movie Lilo and Stitch, means family. And “family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

When I was growing up, my extended family lived in Hawaii. I loved visiting them in paradise for occasional summer vacations. I loved the beaches and the mountains and the endless sunny days, but what I loved most was the spirit of ohana.

The woman in my life who has brought the spirit of ohana alive for me the most is my Auntie Louise. During my visits, she went out of her way to plan beach picnics, waterfall hikes, putt-putt adventures, and all the stops at the Hawaiian shave ice shop a girl could wish for. My auntie was all the laughter and joy and adventure and intentionality that makes even dysfunctional family arrangements meaningful, memorable, and FUN.

The word ohana translates to “family” in the Hawaiian language, but in a much wider sense. Ohana means welcoming into your family circle not just immediate family, but also cousins, in-laws, friends, neighbors, co-workers…the people around you who need the love and support that family offers.

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on the women who have impacted our lives in special and meaningful ways. Take a moment to think about a mom that might need some extra happy in her Mother’s Day this year and reach out to her.

Mother’s Day is a great day to embrace the true meaning of ohana.

Maybe it’s a single mom with kids too young to plan a celebration themselves. A motherless mother. A mom-to-be who is struggling with infertility. A mom who is grieving a loss. A mentor or a friend who’s been like a mom to you and who never had kids of her own. An awesome auntie.

Send her a text. Give her a call. Take her to brunch. Mail a note of cheer. Deliver flowers.

A simple gesture makes a world of difference.

Let’s make sure that this Mother’s Day, in the true spirit of ohana, no mama gets left behind or forgotten.

Alisa’s 15 minutes of fame was as a news reporter just after college. These days, she embraces multiple roles – a mom of three (one teenager and two who are #adulting), a writing consultant, and a college application coach. When she’s not in a Zoom session, you can find her in her backyard with a chiminea fire. She loves indie movies, eclectic music, random road trips, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her family "bubble", and her cat Jack Jack (although not necessarily in that order). She grew up as a military brat, residing in four countries and eleven states before settling in the Dallas area. After 20 years here, and with the help of her Aggie daughter, she can seamlessly use “y’all” and “howdy” in a sentence like a true Texan.

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