You guys! I am super excited to introduce a new series to you called the working mama files. Having an awesome life while being a working mom is something I’m passionate about. I want to be supportive of moms in all their forms, but there’s no doubt that working moms have a unique set of issues. I really want us all to support, encourage, and learn from each other. I hope that this series of interviews will give some insight into the different situations we can be faced with, and maybe you will find someone new to connect with.
I’m especially excited today to kick off the series with an interview of my own mom! She did lots of different things while raising my brothers and me, and has learned a lot along the way.
Let me give you a quick introduction to our family history so that her answers make sense. My parents met and were married in Houston in 1980, and I was born there in February 1982. We moved to Pennsylvania soon after, where my brother David was born in April 1983 and my brother Barry in August 1985. After a couple more moves (to Louisiana and east Texas) where we lived less than one year each, we settled in with my grandmother (my mom’s mom) in Houston and stayed there for several years before moving to the suburbs, where my parents still live today.
I hope I didn’t lose you! Just writing out that history, and now being a mom myself, makes me so impressed with how my parents handled all of that change. Let’s get to the interview!
Mom pregnant with me
Who lives in your house?
Right now, Dad and myself, plus 2 dogs: Maisie, a hyper full blood Labrador Retriever and Oliver, the gentle (with us but not necessarily others, especially other animals) giant.
Will you tell us a little about your current job and how you ended up there?
I am a teacher at a small private school in downtown Katy, TX. This coming year will be my sixth year there.
Before that, I was teaching fifth grade at a charter school. That particular year there were three fifth grade teachers. The following year they were going to need only two. I figured that since I had seniority, one of the other two would be leaving. How wrong I was! I didn’t have my certification (another story), so I was let go.
My principal told me my current school, which was then more of a home school enrichment center and bookstore with a different name, was looking for a Latin teacher, and since I had some experience at teaching Latin, I should look there. I researched them online, and discovered that one of the owners of the school was a Creative Memories consultant that I had worked with years before and had been looking for. That’s when I decided to check out the school.
I went and found out the school was run by her daughter. I caught up with my friend’s life in the past seven or eight years, interviewed with the daughter, and was offered science and Spanish I. I accepted, even though I wasn’t wild about teaching science. (I had wanted history.) The history teacher decided she didn’t want to teach elementary, so I was offered that position, which I immediately accepted.
Through the years the school has transformed into a “real” school and has graduated three senior classes. I’m still teaching elementary and loving it!
Mom and me in the hospital after I was born
What was your work situation when you got pregnant with me?
I was working at an oil company group as a Quality Control Coordinator in the Word Processing Center.
What did you and Dad decide to do about working and childcare?
Dad got a job transfer to Philadelphia (and a raise) when you were four months old, so we decided I could stay home with you. No child care needed, praise the Lord!
My first Christmas; Mom was six months pregnant with my brother David
You had three kids in under four years. How did you make that work financially, and did you take on any work during our school years?
We cut a lot of corners, I couponed, and we did without a lot. Personal babysitting in the early years was through a babysitting co-op, which was a blessing.
Dad got laid off in December 1984; then about a month later, we found out we were expecting Barry. Shortly after Barry was born, I took a job in West Chester, PA as a legal secretary. That did not work out at all! Too hard to get 3 small children to the babysitter and then me to work. After that, I babysat other children for working moms. That was tough; 3 little ones of my own and 1-3 other young ones.
When you were 6, we moved to Mansfield, LA and I was blessed to not have to work or babysit. Then in 1990 when we moved in with B-Ma and Dad went to school for airplane mechanics, a long-time friend of mine recommended me for a night job at the law firm Andrews & Kurth in their Word Processing Center.
I was at Andrews & Kurth for six years until God convicted me He wouldn’t ask me how good a legal secretary I was but what did I do with the children He gave me to raise. That’s when I quit working at Andrews & Kurth and went back to school to finish my degree and become a teacher. You and I graduated the same year, you from high school and me from college. :-)
Taking pictures in the bluebonnets was a “thing” even back then
You mentioned that you worked at night. What was that like for you, and how did you manage it emotionally and logistically?
Working nights was hard, even though I’m a night owl. It threw me out of sync with the rest of the family except my mother (with whom we were living when I did this). Basically the only time I saw Dad was Saturday from late morning to early evening and early Sunday, and I began to feel a distance growing between us. He didn’t like to talk on the phone (he’d call me and tell me goodnight; we talked maybe 5 minutes each night), and my sleep schedule was almost exactly the opposite of his. He would go to sleep around 10pm and get up around 6am; I would go to bed around 3am, get up around 7am to be sure you and David were off to school, then I’d sleep again till 10-11am.
Logistically, Dad would take Barry to preschool on the way to his airplane mechanics classes and bring him home at the end of his day. I’d be home when you and David came home from school, and leave for work around 5pm for my shift, which was from 5:30pm to 1:30am. Dad usually arrived home after I had left for work. B-Ma helped a lot. Thankfully, this schedule didn’t last a huge long time as I got to transfer to days after a year or two.
Mom with my youngest brother Barry
Eventually you went back to school as an adult to switch careers. Can you tell us some more about that process, and what it was like to be in school at the same time as your kids?
We had moved out of B-Ma’s and into our current house. I found the time after I quit Andrews & Kurth a perfect opportunity to juggle home and outside activities. Since I was home already, Dad suggested I complete my degree, which he knew was a long-time dream of mine. I usually scheduled my classes to be home when you kids were home and had activities. I did have to take a couple of Saturday morning classes, so it wasn’t always possible, but I figured kid school time is my school time. (I’ve always wondered if David and Barry saw how hard I worked on school, and maybe that’s why they graduated a semester early.)
I’m very pleased that I was able to complete my degree. It did open doors for me that wouldn’t have been open otherwise, although I’m convinced I took a fairly substantial pay cut as a result of the career I chose, especially since I chose not to teach in public schools. I’ve felt very fulfilled as a teacher and have never regretted the change. God has always provided financially.
I’m the one on the top right with the Bangs
What was your biggest struggle, doubt, or resistance over the years of being a working mom?
Feeling guilty about working, thus abandoning my children and leaving their raising to someone else, including themselves as they grew older.
Did you pick up any tips or tricks along the way that helped you lead a happier, more fulfilling life?
Focus on, serve, and cling to Jesus. Pray hard when you need to. Enjoy the moments. Think about other people. Don’t turn down an opportunity to be with family.
My beautiful mom and me (also: I want that flower embroidery and rocking chair)
Now a few questions for fun…
How do you like your coffee? Or are you a tea drinker?
I don’t like either one. Unfortunately, I like Coke in the morning. The bubbles help me swallow my vitamins first thing.
What was the last good book you read?
It’s been a while since I read a really good book. I wish I could remember what it was! Any recommendations?
What’s on your nightstand?
A small boudoir lamp, an old-fashioned digital alarm clock, the remote controls to the overhead ceiling fan/lamp fixture and the clock radio on Dad’s side of the bed, a decorative plate in a picture frame stand, a votive candle in a holder, a land-line phone, and 7 books.
Favorite social media site?
I enjoy Pinterest and do some personal research there, though I don’t log on very often. I do like seeing what’s going on with people on Facebook, but it takes way too much time, so I don’t go there too often either, unless someone has a birthday or makes a comment involving me. I like the idea of Twitter, but I prefer not to let my deepest thoughts go out to whoever drops in. Texting is good for quick communiqués but not for lengthy discussions. I’m not sure what other sites there are, and the idea of keeping up with them is overwhelming. All in all, I think social media is not always a good thing, as people are perhaps becoming more isolated in the long run. I guess I’m old-school: relating is done better in person.
Can you recommend one blog you read?
Of course! Kapachino.info! I’m starting to follow another that’s covering the health issues of a friend of mine’s daughter/family. I drop in on a lot of different blogs, among them many you’ve recommended, but haven’t followed any yet.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know my lovely mom a little bit! She is always so encouraging to me as I raise my kids, and I’m incredibly glad to have her as an example.
Stay tuned for the next in the series as I’ll be interviewing other bloggers and friends of mine. For now, it would be awesome if you leave my mama some love in the comments! And let me know if you have any suggestions for people to interview or topics you’d like to see touched on. Thanks everyone!