I am the boss here
Thoughts on my unpaid vocation
This is a picture of me a few days after my sister was born. My mom had a medical complication and was hospitalized for two weeks. My grandmother was in charge of childcare and I decided that I was the boss of our new baby. I had to go on “vacation” to my be with my other grandparents because my agenda was not conducive to the well being of our family. I think my sister may have turned out differently if I had been in charge.
I am the boss here at Noted Details. It’s a bit of a stretch to call myself “boss” - no one else works here. But this is the most “boss” that I ever plan to be, and I am ok with that.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a lot of “boss” women in my life. The vocational diversity of those women can not be overstated. We have specific ideas about what it means to be a strong, successful woman in America. But the women who inspire me, are wildly different people. One of them was my “stay at home” mom.
With a degree in home economics and early childhood development, she made a choice to spend a significant portion of her life cultivating a nurturing environment, where my sister and I could learn and grow. She had a vision for what that sacrifice could do for us, and didn’t need compensation to validate her. She had a fierce dignity about her role as a “stay-at-home mom”.
My dad had a successful career in strategic planning and management for an oil pipe line company. He openly doubted his intellect and always said that the advantage he had, was in his ability to work hard and relate well to lots of different people. When my dad was home, he indulged us with warm affection and taught us all the practical things he would have taught boys.
My parents were strong minded and insisted that (even though we were girls) we could be anything we wanted to be when we grew up. When I was five years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a dad. I don’t know if that says something about me, my dad, or the mid-1980’s culture that I grew up in. Perhaps it was simply an on off-handed comment.
What I do know is that, I’ve had a deep-rooted desire to do something “important” for most of my life. If I am honest, I have only recently come to recognize the immeasurable importance of my mother’s (and my own) role as a “stay at home mom”.
After almost a decade of wrestling with my vocation and wondering if I missed my calling, I am relatively content with who I am as a woman that doesn’t get paid for her work. I know that it is a luxury that many women don’t have. I don’t take it for granted. Not having a paying job for most of my adult life, has been a complicated issue of pride for me. Getting to this point, has been a raw, painful journey.
I am ambitious, driven and prideful. Being a good mom, wife, friend, housekeeper, neighbor, Christian - never scratched the itch for me. I felt like there was more to my story. I was always striving, always wondering, always hungry, always unsure, always discontent. And then I watched two of the men I admired most on this earth die long, painful deaths.
My dad died from brain cancer in 2015 and my sister’s husband from bone marrow cancer six months ago. They both represented something iconic in my mind. Tender, kind, strong, vulnerable, hardworking, faithful men. My dad and Joe were both incredibly personable. Honest about their flaws and intentional about their lives. Sitting with them as they approached the end of their lives taught me three things.
One - the complicated feelings I have about my purpose are not unique. We all struggle with the desire to live meaningful lives.
Two - at the end of life, I don’t want to be defined by my accomplishments. I want to be remembered for the lives I’ve touched.
Three - sitting with people who are walking though pain has been one of the most important and life-giving things I have done on this earth.
The past five years of my life, have been a brutal introduction to what really matters to me. Having the flexibility to be with people I love, was an indescribable gift. It changed me in ways that I have only begun to understand. I am still striving for purpose and meaning, but I don’t need the validation that I once craved. I am “the boss” because I recognize that I am the only one who can make the best decisions for myself.
I have felt overwhelmed with the weight of the world for the past several days. My mom arrived in Nashville this afternoon. She picked up my kids from school so that I could vote and get my oil changed. She helped me make Halloween costumes and went to watch my daughter’s roller derby practice. She continues to sacrifice for my benefit, and it continues to transform my life. My mom thinks I should get off social media for a minute. I think she is probably right. Taking a break for a while - catch you on the flip side friends. Who are the boss women in your life?