March is Women’s History Month – a time to reflect on the women who have inspired and influenced you during your lifetime. While there are plenty of iconic women who have paved the way and broken through some of that glass, my ultimate hero is my mom.
As the story goes, my dad came to visit the United States in 1989. A few days into this trip, he called my mom and told her that he was not returning. That she should pack up and prepare to move. That he wanted to leave behind a war-torn country for the opportunity to create a better life for them and their children.
Can you imagine abruptly uprooting your life, leaving behind your family and friends and moving to a foreign country on the other side of the Atlantic with 2 little girls in tow?
My mom was 28 years old; she did not speak English or have a college degree and had not worked a day in her life. Her first job was stocking shelves and collecting carriages at a local grocery store. In an effort to improve our quality of life, she enrolled at a community college and obtained a degree in early childhood development. I distinctly remember proof-reading her papers and typing them up on the typewriter.
After a decade of working for others, she decided to open a family child care center in our home. The appeal was that she would be home when we got home from school. She went on to take care of over 200 families during the span of her 24 years of business and raised generations of children.
Entrepreneurial Spirit & Care Giving
People would often ask if I would take over the business and continue her legacy. I, unfortunately, do not have her patience. But I believe my entrepreneurial spirit was cultivated by watching her grow the daycare and helping her with administrative tasks, such as payroll, taxes, licensing, etc.
More than the inner workings of running a business, what I admired most is how she cared for the children and their families, a majority of whom still send her Christmas cards, check up on her, and sing her praises. Some have moved out of state but will make a point to visit her when they are in Boston. The imprint she has had on the lives of these families is something that I hope to emulate with my clients.
In high school, when the time came for me to get a job, I wanted to work at the local Star Market where all my friends were applying. My mother was adamant that I would not work there. As a teenager, I thought she was being completely unfair! In hind sight, she wasn’t trying to ruin my social life. She simply wanted better for me.
Through the help of my accounting teacher, I ended up with a part time job in the Accounts Payable department of Doble Engineering. My intent at the time was to continue studying accounting in college, but my work experience at Doble made me re-think that decision. While I thoroughly enjoyed crunching numbers and solving problems, the mundane and repetitive work combined with the lack to social interaction made me realize that accounting was not the best fit for me.
Flash forward to a fulfilling career as a Financial Advisor, where the fundamental principles of financial planning are the same for every client, but the goals and means of achieving them are uniquely different. I am never bored! Plus, I enjoy a lot of social interaction with daily calls and meetings with clients. I found my perfect fit.
Let’s be realistic!
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that we don’t all have to hit it out of the park! Many strong women inspire us and many have changed the world, but yours does not need to be a grandiose contribution to society; it is more than enough to be a good mom, spouse, sibling, daughter, friend, etc., and help others do the same. But there is a little more you can do …
The theme for 2021’s Women’s History Month is “Choose to Challenge.” The idea is that from challenge comes change, so the theme urges the calling out of gender bias and inequality with the goal of making a major change to make things more inclusive for women. Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to challenge you to one or all of the following:
- Be an advocate for other women, particularly if you work in a male dominated industry.
- Celebrate the success of other women but also pick them up when they are down.
- Raise the next generation (boys and girls) to understand and embrace gender equality.
- Be knowledgeable about finance and money management.
Take time today to appreciate the women in your life! I promise it will go a long way!