I'll never forget the first moment I truly understood how hard my mother worked. I was 10 years old, and I answered the phone (remember when everyone had a house phone?).
“Hi, this is Lorie from the electric company, I'm calling to tell you that you have a past due balance and should pay your bill immediately to avoid suspension." “Mom? Is that you?" “Okay, thank you, have a great day."
She must have been mortified. My mom worked nights in customer service for an electric company. She worked days as a sales manager. And she worked Saturdays booking seats for a local dinner theater. She also is probably going to kill me for telling you any of this.
She's a woman with a lot of pride, a lot of heart, and more perseverance than anyone I've ever met. My parents divorced when I was young, and it wasn't easy on my mother, who had spent years at home with her children. I never felt like I had less, but I knew how hard she worked for all we had.
When she wasn't helping me with my homework, hiding the fact that she was worrying about bills from me, or working, you could find her wallpapering a bedroom or fixing a sink. Growing up, I wondered if there was anything she couldn't do.
Now that I have my own children and a husband who works a lot, there are many nights when I am dead tired, and I still can't imagine how my mom did it all. I learned a lot from her struggle, and her success, about work ethic, ambition, and what it truly means to balance it all.
You Might Think You Can't, But You Absolutely Can
This might be the ultimate lesson I've learned from my mother: never give up. She worked three jobs to send me to private school. And when I got a scholarship to high school and told her, at 13, that I wasn't sure I could manage the commute, she laughed and told me the things that are worth it are never easy.
Follow her advice. Just when it feels like you should give up, push harder. You'll be glad you did. This was especially important for me to learn when I had children. Suddenly, I realized that my days and schedule were a bit more complicated than they had been in the past. Throw in a bunch of nights with a crying baby and no sleep, and it can seem, well, overwhelming. But I know at the end of the day I can do it, as long as I take care of myself, too.
Be Resourceful and Independent
If you want to get things done, don't wait for someone else to do them for you. Being successful means putting in the time, doing the homework, and being a problem solver.
My mother never waited around for someone to help her overcome a challenge—she would immediately come up with a plan of action. She always encouraged me to do the same. It's safe to say she loves me a great deal, but never coddles me. I know she's there to support me, but I have to make my own success. Sometimes begrudgingly. ("But mom, what do you mean if I want money I need to get a job!?")
But That Doesn't Mean You Can't Ask for Help
The most successful people know that it's not possible to always go it alone. This goes along with being resourceful. Asking for help might have been one of the hardest things for my mom, and I remember her face tensing up whenever she had to ask a friend for financial help or a relative to watch me.
But, whether it's at work or home, we all need to raise a red flag sometimes, and know when to delegate tasks that we just can't get to, or defer to someone with more expertise. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're self-aware and smart.
Have a Sense of Humor
My mom has a great one. It's something I need to remind myself when a day doesn't exactly go my way, or my kids are making me crazy. Don't sweat the small stuff is cliché, but it's true. Remind yourself, no matter how stressed you are, that minor work hiccups are just that. If you find yourself complaining, think to yourself, "Will I care about this tomorrow?" If not, let it go.
I'll never forget the day my mom got a promotion that let her say goodbye to her other two jobs. She took me grocery shopping and let me pick out whatever I wanted. As we pushed the cart full of desserts out of the store, she handed me a card that said, "Here's to keeping the lights on!"
TopicsWork-Life Balance , Getting Ahead , Communication , Productivity , Sponsored , KinderCare Education
Photo of mother and daughter courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Sponsored by KinderCare
KinderCare Education is the largest nationwide provider of early childhood education in the United States. With a passionate drive to provide the best possible educational start for every child, KinderCare’s team is passionate about providing kids with an environment of learning, joy, and adventure where they can flourish and grow. Since the company’s founding in 1969, it has successfully concentrated on serving children in their formative years, yielding time-tested techniques and proven results, and now has classrooms in 38 states.