To The Strong Independent Woman I Hope To Raise
Thoughts inspired by Women's Day, one day late...
Yesterday was Women’s Day, and I don’t know about you, but I felt like it was one of the more positive days on the Internet in a long time. It got me thinking about what has shaped me most along the way, and what I want to pass on to my daughter.
My Parents, The Unlikely Feminists
Although my parents had very traditional roles (Dad worked, Mom cooked), it was what they both absolutely wanted. And my Dad never held it over her head. He respected her immensely, sought out and valued her opinion, and always reinforced to us kids how important her contribution was—she made all our lives possible. They were equal partners.
My parents also really dreamed with me. They were always talking about “when you go away to college,” and suggesting different jobs I’d be good at, things I could do, places I could go. As a result, it never occurred to me that there was anything that was off-limits. They raised me to believe that I could have whatever I wanted, as long as I was willing to work hard and get creative. Nothing has served me better.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. For loving each other so well, and for making me believe it’s all possible.
Nancy Guthrie, My Hand-Me-Down Mentor
When I graduated from college, I randomly moved to Nashville without a job. (I didn’t realize this was a scary thing to do.) I landed in the marketing department of a publishing house and almost immediately my boss quit.
I had an insane amount of misplaced confidence, absolutely no idea that I couldn’t just assume the newly vacated Director-seat. I was gutsy and naive—a dangerous combination, especially since I had just no idea what I was doing. None.
The VP of Marketing asked a former colleague to work with me and mentor me a little bit until they could hire a replacement for my boss. Enter Nancy Guthrie.
Nancy doesn’t have time to bother with fluff. She looks you directly in the eye like she is trying to figure you out, and you get the sense that she probably has. She shoots straight. Everything she does is up-front, with passion and purpose. I immediately wanted to be her.
She had me over for dinner. We went on walks. She told me her stories. She lent me clothes for my first out-of-town business trip. Nancy was so good at what she did, she could do it on her own terms.
I remember sitting in Nancy’s kitchen, and her telling me, that work came much more naturally to her than cooking. (I didn’t yet know how much I would relate.) However, she realized that it was important to her boys, and it was one way she could show them love. And so even though she hated to cook, she had to change her attitude about it. It was a small thing with big impact she was doing to tangibly show love to her family. (I still give myself that Nancy Guthrie pep talk at least once a week.) She just had this way of navigating these two worlds—work and life—and weaving them together for a custom-fit.
Thank you, Nancy. For showing me how to forge my own path, without ever compromising who I am, and reminding me that although life isn’t always fair, the challenges are where we build character and compassion.
YNAB, My Current Employer
Today, I’m an executive at a software company, where I get to be fully me (loud, obsessed with pop-culture, creative, weird, and technically challenged), do work that I love, and pick my kids up from school. It’s amazing. I’ve been entrusted with a lot—and given the freedom to work it out in my own way. I am the most complete version of myself because of the flexibility, support, and respect YNAB gives me as a professional, a parent, and a producer of parody cover songs.
Thank you, YNAB. For the opportunity to pursue my career full-throttle, without sacrificing the kind of parent I want to be. And for making the whole endeavor so much fun.
Which brings me to Sydney, my four-and-a-half-year-old…
Sydney, Do As I Do
When Sydney is playing house, she is always leaving to go to work or coming home from work. (Which is funny because I work from home, but whatever.) But I’m proud of that. Sydney will grow up knowing that she can do anything she wants to do because she watched me do it.
I can talk until the cows come home (no, actually I can), but I know, that what I’m really teaching Sydney is what she sees and experiences every day. This is no small thing. I’m trying to be intentional about modeling the things I want her to learn most:
Sydney, the weird gene in you is strong. Don’t ever lose that! Find a path that rewards you for exactly who you are, in all your weird and hilarious glory. As your mom, I promise to always pursue ways we can celebrate who you are and what makes you uniquely you.
Money Is Power (When You Are In Control)
Sydney, if you are in control of your money, you are in control of your life. We probably talk about budgeting more than the average family, but there is a reason for that: I want you to know with full confidence that you can take care of yourself. Life will happen, you will have to adjust, but if you are in control of your money you will always have options. As your mom, I promise to model spending and saving with intention. And lots more talk of budgeting.
Find Your People
Sydney, this life is nothing without the people we meet along the way. I hope you will make great friends, the kind that make the good times even more fun, and the hard times bearable. I hope you’ll be kind and generous and thoughtful, quick to offer help, and vulnerable enough to receive it, when it is your turn. As your mom, I’ll continue to surround you with the village of people who love me, and now you, and are invested in raising you well.
Do What You Love
Sydney, you only get one life. And I want yours to be full and fun and meaningful. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, or what anyone else is doing, I want you to do what is best for you. Sometimes those choices are hard. Sometimes they don’t make sense to other people. Who cares. You get one life, so make it your own. As your mom, I will keep telling this to you and myself, over and over, forever and amen.
Here’s to strong independent ladies raising strong independent ladies!