Reentering the workforce after having my son had its challenges, primarily because of the limitations on how many hours I could work and how much time I could- or could not- physically be at my place of employment. I was very mindful of the fact that beggars can’t be choosers so as I searched for a position that could accommodate this particular season of my life, the many rejections I received were frustrating, but understandable. Yet, those rejections also began to manifest feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty: would I be able to transition back into the workplace after choosing to be absent for several years following the birth of my son? Would I be able to find a reasonably paying job that would consider my level of education and prior work experience rather than considering solely the current restrictions on my workplace availability?
After many months, my search ended at the Memphis Theological Seminary. A team of development professionals sat at a conference room table with me and, following a lengthy interview process during which they shared their requirements and I shared my restrictions, decided to give me a chance. For the next two years I worked under the guidance of those professionals who not only encouraged me to embrace my new position as “working mom” but also made sure that I never lost sight of the importance in and of my new parental role. When pressing issues necessitated last minute lunch meetings with my boss, she’d say “bring him along” before I could even begin stressing about finding childcare for my son. Deadlines on major projects were met with my working many hours between midnight and 4 am, after my shift as “Mom-In-Chief” ended and that as “employee” began. What started as a journey filled with fear that I may never find a workplace which embraced my move into motherhood ended at a workplace wherein I was always reminded (even if indirectly so) that family comes first and starting one need not cost me my entire career.
Roz, I’d like to thank you for those reminders that guide me, still. Though at times our working together wasn’t perfect, the timing of our working together was. You helped change my perspective on so many things, for the better, and hence changed my life, for the better. Erika, I’d like to thank you for your open door policy that included conversations about spreadsheets and conversations about schools and for your open heart that helped me in navigating them. Thank you, both, for instilling in me: family comes first.
Today, I write for yet another organization where the importance of family-and philanthropy- permeates its daily operations. Each day, those who work here devote their talents and resources to improving the lives of individuals and families living in our communities. They have taught me that a company can prosper, even at the “expense” of giving back. Here, at the second career stop of my post-motherhood pilgrimage, I draw from lessons at my first stop (the seminary) while continuing to add to my arsenal of knowledge on what it means to be a mother in the workplace. Here, I find myself surrounded by executives and millennials, some with children, some without, all working together towards a common purpose and embracing others’ strengths rather than focusing on their restrictions. Once again, I crossed paths with someone who was willing to give me a chance, knowing my limitations but trusting in my ability to perform the tasks at hand- even if that meant I had to burn the midnight oil rather than count fluffy sheep frolicking across the meadow.
Thank you, Jeremy, for your guidance that remains a constant even when I must work remotely. Allison and Andrew, my timing isn’t always perfect but the timing of our working together is. Thank you, all, for instilling in me: family comes first, philanthropy is a close second. And thank you to every person who reads my work and reaches out to me with encouragement. You inspire me to keep going, even when I have to find unconventional ways of getting there.
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