When I was a child, I always anticipated St. Patrick's Day with the wonder of what my Irish mother would do this year to help us celebrate. Sitting down to a hearty farm breakfast, I'd begin my day listening to the Irish folk songs she had playing on the radio. Of course, she sent us all to school wearing something green with a shamrock pinned to each of our collars.
The most fun of the day was at dinner when she'd serve green mashed potatoes. Just a drop of green food coloring made the dish festive. Of course, Dad, a third generation farmer of Dutch descent, would shake his head and ask, "Where's the meat?" Usually the serious parent, his sense of humor often lacked the spontaneity of Mom's, although he did surprise us on occasion.
Mom made each holiday special and memorable. Most were celebrated in traditional ways: Easter baskets full of eggs and candy, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree with lots of presents, and Independence Day with flags and stories about her WWII service in the U.S. Navy. One April Fool's Day she sewed the tableware to the tablecloth. I won't even repeat what Dad said about that!
So, you say, what do my mother's holiday celebrations have to do with careers or job search?
More than these happy childhood memories, these fun times will always remain precious as I recall what Mom did with her life for us and my father, the husband she dearly loved. Marrying at 28, she gave up her teaching career to become a farm housewife, making a commitment to a new way of life. Yes, she chose this new life, but it's important to acknowledge the many changes she had to make – from baking bread to tending chickens to growing fresh vegetables in a big garden.
I see her holiday celebrations as one of her ways of maintaining her personal identity and not letting herself become lost in this different culture. When Dad was struck down at the age of 51 with a series of strokes and heart attacks that caused permanent disability, Mom returned to her teaching career to keep the family going. Always adapting and changing, she taught me the importance of being flexible in my life and my work. She also taught me that a woman CAN do it all: have a career AND have a family.
Lessons are here for all job seekers and careerists:
- Don't fear the unknown.
- Keep your eyes open for opportunities that can enrich your life and give it meaning.
- There is no good reason to stay year after year in a job you hate – get proactive!
- Find that career that lets you work from your life's purpose.
Thanks, Mom, for the life and career lessons you taught me!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!