If Andrew Cuomo is America’s Governor, then Matilda Cuomo is America’s mom. The 90-year-old heads New York’s most important political dynasty now fighting the spread of COVID-19: Her eldest son, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is behind the state’s pandemic response, and her youngest son, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, founded the #IStayAtHomeFor campaign after testing positive. This Mother’s Day, Matilda reflects on raising a generation of leaders—and why their late father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, would be “so proud.”
I’m so thankful for all the blessings in my life: I have five amazing children, who are my treasures, and 14 beautiful grandchildren, who are my angels.
But this Mother’s Day, my heart is heavy.
My son, Chris, battled COVID-19 for weeks and now his wife and son are ill, too. It was hard for me to watch this all play out on television and online. We talked on the phone, but it just wasn’t the same as seeing him in person. I pray every night that Chris remains well and that he doesn’t push himself too much. I feel for all the other mothers also struggling to care for their families during this devastating crisis.
I believe that in tough times, we see people’s true characters, which is why I’m so proud of the way my family has stepped up. Chris’s daughter Bella, who isn’t sick, has been helping take care of her siblings and parents. What an angel!
My son Andrew has been presenting necessary facts about the crisis to the people of New York—and to the nation—in a way that I think inspires hope and confidence. His humanity is clear in those daily briefings he gives, and in his determination to save as many people as possible from the virus, including his own brother.
My boys have always shared a very special bond. Andrew was 13 when I told him and his three sisters that I was expecting. I remember him crying out: “Please no more girls!” They were inseparable growing up. Andrew was always looking after Chris, and Chris adored him. They share the same wonderful sense of humor. I think they get that from their father, who also had a brilliant, sharp wit.
Of course, I didn’t expect them to take that humor to the airwaves, but it does make me laugh and laugh and laugh!
I’ve been amazed to see what they both can accomplish in a day. I truly believe their father, Mario, is with them, guiding them and giving them strength right now. He would be very proud of their leadership in the fight against COVID-19. Especially at a time of such consequence.
To me, one of the most important lessons a mother can teach her children is you have to respect yourself, and to respect others. It’s so important to treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s the golden rule! And it should be honored throughout your lifetime—from young to old.
I feel very lucky to be sharing Mother’s Day with my children and grandchildren. I pray for the day that we can all be together again soon, without wearing masks.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.