A Year of Gifts
Back in the summer of 1996, I was a member of our local Toastmaster club. I was eight years into my working career and needed to improve on my public speaking skills. I’m sure I picked up some important pointers during my stint with the group, but one short speech has, quite literally, followed me around to this day. The words are captured, front and back, on one single piece of paper. The speech focused on the daily struggles of working moms and the “mommy guilt” I was so obviously feeling at the time. I even remember giving this particular speech because of the passion I felt while delivering it. We had a two-year-old son at home and I was newly pregnant with our daughter. Eventually that number would grow to three.
I’ve always worked outside of the home. Following college, I entered the banking business. Thirty years later, that is still where I spend my days. But throughout this long career, I’ve continued to experiment with other ways of making a living on the side. Much of this was driven by my desire to have more time with our kids.
I remember standing up and starting my speech with the following opening. If you have kids, you will be able to relate:
“Mommy, do you have to go to work today?” How many of you have heard this as you head out of the driveway to drop off your child at daycare or school? I hear it every once in a while, and it is inevitably a beautiful, sunny morning and I would like nothing more than to put the car back in the garage and play outside all day with my son.
I can’t do it though because I work outside the home. I convince my son he will have a great time at Janet’s house and I head into the office. I haven’t been a working mother for very long. My son is still young. It certainly hasn’t taken me long; however, to come to the conclusion that working moms have to be borderline “Superwomen”. If you don’t buy this line, let me walk you through a typical day at our house.”
I proceeded to spell out what was then a normal day for us. The early mornings, the hand off at daycare, the rush to get to work, the daily grind, the rush back to daycare for a timely pickup. Note: lots of rushing back in those days. Then home to figure out supper, bath time, play time, reading time and the bedtime routine.
My purpose in sharing this now isn’t to reiterate how busy my life was as I learned to balance a family and an outside career. Instead, I hoped to share with you where my perspective has changed with my years of experience, and where it has stayed the same.
The years pass very quickly. Fast forward twelve years to May 1, 2008. Suddenly, our “little” boy was fourteen and our girls eleven and seven. In addition to my day job, I was working to build a team with a network marketing company. I was intrigued by the opportunity to someday work from home and, again, have more time with my kids. This company put a huge emphasis on self-development. Never before had I read so many books around self-improvement and goal setting. The book “The Secret” exploded on the scene and suddenly the Law of Attraction was everywhere..
It was during this time I ran across my one-page speech from 1996, tucked away in an old Toastmaster manual. Reading those words I’d written ten years earlier as a new mom working in corporate felt surreal. I was still searching for that thing that would give me more time with my family. I recognized the message within those words still resonated deep in my heart. Nothing was more important than quality time with them. I decided to laminate that single page, sandwiching my business card along with a note on the backside so it could serve as a reminder of my priorities.
Now, flash forward again to 2017. As my focus shifted to writing and self-publishing novels, I set up an office in our basement. When I worked to tame a mess of old paperwork, I again stumbled across my Toastmaster speech. Another ten years had passed.
When I reflect on my journey, I realize I’ve done my best to stay true to my earlier self; keeping my top priority on time with family, raising great kids, and making a living to help support our life. I passed on some work opportunities because it would have stolen precious time from what has always been most important to me.
My “little” boy is now twenty-four and engaged. We’ve had a busy weekend, hosting a bridal shower at our house for his soon-to-be bride. His younger sisters worked hard to pull the party together. Friends and family filled our house on Saturday morning and we had so much fun. Even though she no longer lives in our neighborhood, Janet, the kid’s daycare provider, was able to join us as well as other important people in our lives.
So …what are some things I’ve learned over these two plus decades of juggling motherhood and a career?
As I hold this laminated message from my younger self in my hands this morning, I’m relieved I’ve done some things right. Of course, there have been bumps and hiccups along the way, but I can smile and know I’ve made mostly good decisions. Perhaps I can share some of this experience and wisdom when I give my toast at the upcoming nuptials. Our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary will be one day after our son’s wedding. I may be able to come up with a few nuggets to share with them as they embark on their new adventures.
Trust in your own journey and keep to your own personal priorities. Let them be your guideposts in life. Pass on your wisdom and experience to younger generations. I’m here to cheer you on! Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!