I got a huge promotion. It's big, scary, nerve wrecking, and for the first week, I was reaching for tums because I was not confident that I could fill the shoes of a formidable expert who had been doing it for the last 10-15 years. It is a job that is rumoured to be difficult and possibly accompanied by challenging personalities. Why me? I prayed for the right direction from God. I asked for peace. I seeked signs from above that this was the destined path that God wanted me to travel down. And one fine day when I was in the throws of decision making and hand-wringing, my Bible app popped up with a notification of the daily verse "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). I looked for peace and got it. God was telling me that it is going to be difficult but he is going to be right there with me.
Dear Readers, as a working mom, I am often grateful for reasonable employers. I tend to work harder and put in more hours from home because I feel that I own the employer for being flexible. And possibly through the years, I may have made less money because I did not venture to ask for more. Flexibility was currency in itself. There is a sense of indebtedness to the employer and I'll take whatever I can because I am just happy to have a job where the employer understands my circumstances. Why do I sell myself short? I don't know.
Well, for once, I did not.
Prior to accepting the job offer, I asked for a meeting so that I could lay out my requests for vacation and possibly negotiate salary. Going into the meeting, there was even a possibility that I would turn down the offer if things did not go my way. I had nothing to lose and I was willing to walk away (that is a great position to negotiate from). As the conversation turned and flipped in unexpected directions, I decided to be honest and tell the manager that this is a job that many would not accept because it is challenging and I cited my source of information. I listened to his reply before asking for a better offer and more compensation. He agreed to my terms. I accepted the offer.
It took every bit of courage I possessed, God by my side, and a wonderful husband. When I emerged from the boardroom and pulled out my cell phone, I said a prayer of thanks and texted my husband. My hands were shaking and my heart rate was definitely not normal.
The negotiations took the form of an intelligent conversation, well thought out, calm, soft-spoke, yet assertive and strong. I can think of one lady who lived that mantra and I would like to dedicate this blog post to the late Mrs. Bush.
I recently volunteered to give a devotional to a group of high school girls and I started off the devo with “How many of you are asked on a daily basis….what do you plan to do after you graduate?” A good number of the young ladies raised their hands. Many did not have a solid answer for what they wanted to do in college or after school or for the rest of their lives. Some wished adults would not ask them that question. If we stop to think about it, it is an exceedingly intimidating question. Many adults still do not know what they want to do “when they grow up”. Many of us had a direction that they started out with and after many twists, change, and challenges that life throws you, the path is completely different from that which was in my 16 year old brain, so very many moons ago.
If even 50% of us moms are of the stay-at-home variety, why then is it necessary to go to college? As you read this, I am sure you are mentally screaming at me and at my ivory tower snobbery. But wait, please stay the hate mail…. it is merely a rhetorical question. I think that every person capable of learning should engage in as much education as they are able to gain. Why? Very simply the - we exist to serve & teach the next generation, to build God’s kingdom with a the best possible minds. There is one caveat… that education must serve God’s purpose. For example, let’s examine Rebel Mom who has homeschooled all 6 of her children I would believe that her college education has served her well in enhancing learning in her children.
When I first read Proverbs Ch 31 on The Wife of Noble Character, I always thought that it was an impossible standard. The woman in the story did everything from feeding her family, to planting a vineyard and clothing them in purple. Ugh….I’m allergic to purple. But as I grow older, I realize that many of you moms are as accomplished as this proverbial woman.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.” If this is so (and why should be doubt the Bible?), then what do we teach our daughters? Aristotle was of the opinion that the purpose of education is to make citizens, virtuous. Teaching & learning are about a disciplined inquiry into some aspect of reality. Too often, as women, we rely on our emotions and perhaps, the practice of disciplined inquiry is a good thing as we apply purpose and structure in our homes.
An actual image of my dissertation at work. On a 4 hour ride to a family wedding in 2014, there was enough time to read, write and eat some chicken nuggets.
I have a dear Jewish friend who used to tell me this joke....
Q: Do you know what most Jewish holidays are based on?
A: It's simple -
1. they tried to kill us
2. they failed
3. let's eat !
It's funny but really it is about dealing with adversity and celebrating when we come out of the worst. It's 2 am and I am having a hard time sleeping. Thoughts run through my head, occasionally anger, sometimes regret... conversations are on a constant loop... should have said this, should have done that. Why? Why wasn't I given a chance at that promotion? Where did it go wrong? When will there be another opportunity? Will there even be another opportunity? They picked another man over this skirt. I have tried to prepare myself for the inevitable and yet, when it does arrive, it hurts more than expected. I was passed-over.
As I was tucking my youngest offspring in at bedtime,
I sighed, "I want to cry but somehow I can't"
"Well then, maybe it doesn't matter as much," came a thoughtful reply
I was touched. "Hearing you say that makes me cry."
"Maybe God wants something else for you," said my little Sage.
As a parent, it is difficult to teach a child how to deal with adversity when I can't even remove my own blinders. Maybe I can't cry because it really doesn't mean that much. Maybe children learn by example. Maybe we face adversity so that they can watch us go through it. Maybe they learn to be encouraging by lifting us up. Maybe it is Divine providence. We should celebrate.
I will go back to work tomorrow and show them that they failed to dampen my spirit. Chin up, shoulders back, and soldier on. Because in reality, only my ego was bruised and not the ones I love most.
They tried to bruise me
So, I know we already established that I travel a lot. The last business trip that I was on involved 10 planes, 8 airports and 9 different cities. Now, granted, I merely spent time transiting in some airports, but all in all, it was exhausting. Mostly, people say, "wow" -- I am often unsure if they are critical or if they are just plain shocked. Maybe they are trying to judge if I am a good mom. I don't know.... mostly, I keep it on the down low and change the subject if someone seems uncomfortably. The question that I ask myself is, "How do I make sure that I keep myself mentally strong for those long transcontinental flights and not feel like I have wasted entire days floating in the stratosphere?" Movies don't really do anything for me. But I do love to read... and here are some of my latest fantastics finds:
1. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
- Suspenseful, haunting, psychologically suspense about a woman who witnesses a crime while sailing on an exclusive, high end cruise ship.
2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
- Book 2 in the YA series about a special magical Feyre race who are rather vicious in their eagerness to protect, defend, and love. Lots of magic in Royal Courts and quirky, moody, secret ridden mortals who somehow discovery that they are not mortal. Comes with all the angst that YA novels are constantly wrestling with.
3. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
- I absolutely love the Popular Psychology genre. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Susan Cain, take academic research and tell the story that professors often fail to do. This particular one is about human reason and how our mind works out a perception of reality. Throw in some Big Data and somehow, old research becomes modern and relevant. Love it!
On the home front, sports season has begun and there are practices 2 to 3 times per week until the end of October. The dilemma occurs when both parents work, and the pick up schedule varies every day. As a back up, working moms like me have a few options for hitching a ride including:
1. Asking the in-laws for help
2. Piggy back a ride off another mom to the game
Can't go with option one since it is birthday week for one of the in-laws, and it would be mighty rude and to ask. The mere mention might turn me from an in-law into an outlaw. Option two it is...... now all I have to figure out is how much "goodwill" do I have vested in one of the other parents.
Team uniforms? Yup.
Water bottles? Yup.
What time does the game end? Oh boo! No clue.
Weather? Double boo! Rain.
That means standing in the drizzle with a small commuter umbrella, dress clothes and Bog rain boots. Nothing matches - nothing looks glam in the rain, unless you are Audrey Hepburn. Well, I guess it's chin up and call me "Audrey" ... make that "Dr. Audrey".
The real deal about what it’s like to be a working mom. I often hear the following phrase, “I don’t know how you manage it all.“ The reality is, I don’t even know. Deep down inside, I’m wondering the same thing about them. I have two kids, a wonderful husband, a normal suburban life. I’ve always been achievement oriented and simply love to tackle things that sometimes make other peoples eyes glaze over… in boredom. I’m a researcher and my view on the technical stuff is that nothing is difficult, merely complex.
Flat Stanley at the Changing of the Guards.