Several months ago I was shopping at the Cracker Barrel gift shop, this is a great place to find some unique items, by the way, and I found a sign that read “you are the mom that everyone wishes they had.” I purchased it knowing Mother’s Day would be quickly sneaking up on me and this says it all about my mom.
“You have big shoes to fill” is a common statement when someone talks about my mom both as a professional and a mom, and this is nothing but the truth.
Forty-seven years is an incredible achievement for a person to work for the same company, especially in our current economy. But for a full-time working, single mom of two girls, this is nothing short of amazing. This month my mom retires after decades of dedication to a career that never came before her kids.
Now that I am a working mom myself, I fully realize and appreciate the sacrifices she made to ensure my sister and I had everything we needed (and a lot of what we wanted). My mom created her own path, moving from the mail-room to a system administrator who is well-respected by hundreds of people within the nation-wide company she has worked at for nearly half a century.
My parents divorced when my sister was 2 and I was 4. I am not sure how they did it, but their goal was that my sister and I came first. Today, 32 years later, we still have holidays and celebrations together as a family, because despite what happened between the two of them, we were a family. I consider myself beyond lucky to have two amazing parents who remain friends.
My dad was an over-the-road truck driver, so my mom really was solo. In addition to the demands of a full-time professional career, my mom battled sleepless nights with two young kids, endless hours of homework, school projects, and elaborate birthday celebrations. She created holiday memories that have lasted into adulthood. There were activities to coordinate (and believe me, my sister and I tried it all soccer, Girl Scouts, softball, ice skating, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, basketball, chorus, drama, etc…). She was our chauffeur; she made homemade Halloween costumes and last-minute school projects. My mom dealt with our teenage hormones (and boy were those a crazy).
Basically, anything that comes with raising kids – my mom conquered like a champion. She knew the perfect balance between being a friend and a parent. She was forgiving when needed and tough when it counted. And she worked hard to give us everything we needed and much of what we wanted while showing us the meaning of working hard.
Because of my mom’s stellar example, my sister and I have always had an incredible work ethic, working throughout high school, attending college, graduating with honors, building successful careers, and now families. Even my Dad will tell you, this is my mom’s doing. She raised us right! Funny, since he is nearly 70 with no immediate plans to retire.
As my mom prepares for retirement, I am excited for her to truly have time for herself. As she continues to perfect being a grandma (which she has down to a science), my sister and I will continue our attempt to fill her very large metaphorical shoes.