I never thought divorce would happen to me. I didn’t think it was possible. But when 2013 brought with it a long and painful divorce (which divorce isn’t painful, right?), my two boys and I moved back to my hometown where we would have the support of friends and family. After all, it does take a village!
This new phase of life was full of lots of lessons that I didn’t know I needed. I learned that people don’t always care about what happened to you; they want new gossip fodder. I also learned that gossip quickly dissipates when the next “scandal” happens. I learned how to stay calm after a horribly-timed layoff.
And, most importantly, I learned that I’m capable of much more than I ever thought I was. I was determined to make a comfortable, happy, healthy and loving home for my boys and me. I studied and received my human resources certification, got a new job, set aggressive financial and career goals for myself and went to work. So, using the boys as my north star, we plotted our course together. They would have no doubts that “Mom’s got this.”
So as I began the next stage of my life – a successful businesswoman and single mother of two boys I realized the value of them watching me lead both at work and at home. We often read stories about how girls can benefit from having a working mother, but so can boys.
Here’s what I hope my boys know:
They’re a catch.
Boys who were raised by working moms, especially single, working moms, are used to pitching in more around the house. They will be more inclined to be an equal partner both in business and in life. I believe boys who grow up with a working mother are more likely to accept and support a partner who also works; because that’s all they’ve known.
They are not entitled to anything.
If my sons want something – a new phone, a new Xbox game, a sports jersey, etc. – they know that they have to work for it. Having a strong work ethic will always be valued in our home. They have watched me work tirelessly to provide for our family. From the big to the small: vacations, everyday necessities, to healthy relationships, nothing comes without hard work.
How to be an ally to women in the workforce.
In my 22-year career, I’ve worked for a lot of people – both men and women. After leaving a job with a toxic male supervisor, I found my confidence and self-worth was shaken. It wasn’t until I moved to my current company that I got to experience what it’s like to have a male boss that is self-aware enough to understand the difficulties a woman faces in the workplace that a male may not. Our company has one of the healthiest cultures I’ve ever experienced. From flexible schedules for working parents (both men and women) to championing the personal causes for employees. We not only have supportive leadership but supportive colleagues. At a company like this, it’s safe to say I will never feel guilty for giving 100% to my family ever again.
I believe witnessing my hard work, my frustrations, my wins and my sacrifices, that my boys will grow into supportive colleagues championing the success of both their male and female peers. I believe this will allow them to re-create the supportive environment, that I’m so proud of in my position, in their own businesses.
Twenty years from now, when my boys are proud of their day because they cooked a wonderful dinner for their family, helped their spouse solve a work problem and finally earned something they worked hard for, I hope they’ll look back and say “Thanks, Mom.”