My career took flight during the women’s movement in the late 80’s and kept moving.
Each job paid more, demanded more, involved more travel.
For the most part, my life was unlike my mother’s (she never traveled abroad till she was in her late forties). But, at times, my life was also strangely reminiscent of hers. For long periods, I got to work at home. Got to be there when the kids came home from school. Like my mother did.
I have two wonderful men to thank for that. My husband’s support allowed me to travel on business. My boss’ support allowed me to work at home often, in return for all that travel.
Support came from remarkable women. My own mother, who’d been denied the career she wanted, sometimes moved in temporarily when my job took me abroad. My husband’s mother often cooked the Jamaican dishes we loved (but weren’t good at making). My sister, who taught me to cook dishes my kids would like. And a very caring nanny; we lived very frugally so we could afford her and it was money very well spent.
And so, my proudest achievement – raising children who’ve become strong, decent adults — is something I’m not very confident about, had a lot of help with, and cannot claim as entirely my own.
Even with all that help and support, my husband and I worked hard at parenting our children, sometimes completely unsure whether we were doing the right thing. We got advice from our parents, but sometimes screwed up royally when we tried to apply that good counsel to our own family.
Looking back, we sometimes joke that the girls turned out alright, in spite of us. We’ve watched with pride, astonishment and awe as our daughters have grown up and made choices about their lives.
They’ve done well at school and work. They know when to “step up and stand up”: stepping up to help others going through tough times; standing up for what they consider to be right. They have strong values.
And – to my astonishment — each has a great sense of style, is a good cook and a great wit. These are talents which I’m sure come from their father and grandmothers, since no-one has ever accused me of any of those things.
Our daughters are strong, decent adults and I am proud of having had something to do with that outcome. But, more than that, I am thankful for having had the chance to parent them and watch them grow! As they have grown, my husband and I have also grown.
I’m thankful for my career. The doors it opened, the confidence it built, the money I earned. The people I met, the travel to foreign lands.
But when someone asks me about the proudest achievement of my life, there’s no debate: I’m proudest of raising children who have become strong, decent adults.
Dedicated to my daughters, my husband and our mothers, with thanks.
And to all those who, like us, learned parenting as they went along, and all the people who helped.