The day came when I decided that I had invested enough of my time and life force into proving myself and worth to people who would never truly see me. I knew that I was smart, creative, effective , kind and a team player. Not to toot my own horn, but “Beep Beep”. I trained managers that have since gone on into senior leadership roles and done well. I yearned for the opportunity to expand my reach, lead a team and share my experiences. Yeah let’s just say that didn’t happen…. When I shared my desire with management to take on more responsibility, I was met with the response “so you think you can do my job” and “be careful what you ask for” because I didn’t have a stay at home spouse to support my ambitious aspirations. I didn’t see my aspirations as ambitious, for me this was a natural progression. You see I was already mentoring others, driving the success of the company, and delivering beyond what was asked. Why not me? Why am I not being considered? I have an MBA, a PhD, a decade of relevant work experience and a proven track record. This doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t they see me? Why won’t they see me?
This was a sobering moment. I knew that I didn’t want this reality for my daughters. How do I teach them to rise above those that don’t believe in their abilities and talents and to be confident? How do I prepare them for a world that has unspoken rules and philosophies around what a leader should look like and penalties that come with the decision to have a family?
Watching and thinking and thinking and watching and observing.
I began to observe my girls and listen to them more than I ever had. They had little opinions. Strong little opinions, preferences and observations of the world around them. They had a “Voice”. I began to evolve into more of a parent-coach and shy away from being a motherly drill sergeant “Eat, sleep, bath, school! Eat, sleep, bath, school!” That was our regular cadence, no interruptions allowed; until now.
Working Moms walk the tight rope of balancing home and work on a daily basis. I found myself missing milestones, field trips, and other activities with my girls. I made my peace with these sacrifices, understanding that I was pioneering a better life and existence for my girls. I was investing in their academic and financial futures, but inadvertently missing a major piece of the puzzle; self-image.
My girls were always watching, taking in information, absorbing like little sponges the world around them. They noticed that there were very few toys, television programs, Apps, and images that looked like them. Unsure of how to process this information they began to aspire to be the images they were exposed to on a daily basis.
We were riding home from Daycare when Stephanie began to express her desire to be blonde with light skin because it was prettier. I didn’t know what to say…….
My first inclination was to complain, get angry, blame others and shout “why isn’t there more diversity in the imagery that is shown to children”. How did I miss this? Who will take on the task of creating this?
I began to encourage the girls to draw and imagine themselves as anything they wanted to be. We began creating imagery that featured them as Magical Fairies, Princesses, Scientists, Astronauts ….Fashion Designers. I wanted them to see themselves for the beautiful and talented girls they were and they finally did.
Took me a little while to uncover my true passion and purpose in this lifetime. I aspire to inspire children to believe in themselves, reach for the stars and follow their dreams.