My parents did not have much growing up, and had even less after they were married with 3 children. They were 16 years old when they married and had me at only 17. After years of watching their struggle, I became determined to work as hard as I could to never have to struggle like they did. They did everything they could to provide for us, including asking area churches for clothes and school supplies before school started. I never wanted to worry about providing for my children – whether it be basic clothes or food.
Despite their struggles, they did teach me what it meant to be a good parent and always had time for me and my brothers. My father had my name printed on the car’s back windshield when I was five years old. We would spend time each evening tracing the letters as he taught me how to spell my name. I spent hours with my mother learning how to cook, creating a big mess and up to my elbows in biscuit dough. More than the taste of the biscuits, I remember the time we spent together. My parents were loving, patient, and gentle with us – and taught me values, ethics, and what it meant to be a good leader.
It is because of my parents that I can now proudly lead others as a college administrator, adjunct faculty member, and full time mom. I proudly have four daughters aged 28, 26, 6 and 3. Yes, it’s true – I have children with a 25 year span. And even though others might doubt my sanity, I can tell you that the little ones are what keep me grounded. They are my refuge that I run to at the end of a stressful and long day.
It breaks my heart to see young working mothers who kill themselves to rush to get everything done in order to climb the professional ladder. Despite long hours at their desks, it seems like it never stops. These young women are so intent on succeeding that they can hardly stop emailing, texting, and updating their social media sites on their phones while their children are yelling for their attention at their soccer games. A parent’s smile from the sidelines is sometimes all a child really needs.
It’s important that we take time to enjoy these precious moments – we only have such a short time with our little ones before they’re gone. Cherish them. Please.
I’ve tried to reach out to a few of the young women in my office when they look particularly strained or rushed. Our conversations always have the same theme: they’re stressed, busy, rushed, behind, and over loaded. I worry about these women. They’re smart, driven, and strong but I don’t like seeing them kill themselves.
I spoke with an ambitious young mom that was struggling with working full time while completing the necessary hours for her LPC. She was anxious and stressed about her 7 year old daughter crying every night at bedtime. She struggled with her patience and felt guilty about feeling weak. How can a woman really do it all?
I have also struggled with this in the past. We have a tremendous amount of pressure to be “Super Woman”. It’s not always easy, but I’ve tried to look to my childhood as a guide. Even though I frequently take home work after a busy night of teaching, I try to put it aside when I am with my children. My children are my primary focus as soon as I get home. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – my daughters are first. We eat dinner together, do homework, read books, play, take baths, and create great bedtime stories until they fall fast asleep. I try to be patient, attentive, and fully available during those two and a half hours. It’s not easy, but it’s important to me – they are the reason that I’m working so hard.
Afterwards, I still go through emails, grade papers, and finish up what I can. I’m not perfect, but this is how I make it work. Years from now, I want my children to remember our time together where we made a mess in kitchen, took bubble baths, and made up silly bedtime stories. I want them to know that they are always my first priority.
I thank my parents for giving me the strength to do what I do. They supported me through my educational endeavors all the way to my doctorate, even though they only had an eighth grade education. They taught me to work hard and how to prioritize, and gave me the strength to become the woman I am today – and I am very thankful to them. But most of all, I’m thankful for all of the memories that they created with me and my brothers. And I will do everything in my power to create these same great memories with my girls.Condoa M Parrent, EdD firstname.lastname@example.org