But when I defuse a stressful situation in the office with a joke, when I prep for a meeting and then review my notes and ask "How could this be better?," when I am faced with a challenging superior or an impossible situation and recall that while it's essential to be polite, "Jesus never said you had to be a doormat," I know that it's my mom's career that positioned me to be the person I've become in mine.
When I sent her a draft of this article to nail down some facts she groaned. "It's like opening your history textbook and flipping to a chapter titled 'Women Get The Vote' or 'Between the Wars,'" she said. I agreed that some of the situations she described are tough for me to imagine.
Tough — but not impossible. In the depths of the financial crisis, when I was a recent college graduate who had been unemployed upwards of six months, I was interviewing for a job I didn't want but definitely needed when the hiring manager asked what perfume I was wearing. I was 23, I was already nervous and it threw me off my game. When the interview ended, I went home and calmed down. And then, I reported his behavior to his boss.
I have no delusions that I'll be considered for the Workplace Feminist Hall of Fame. In fact, that office wasn't even offering me the job. But maybe I spared some later candidate the experience of dressing up in her interview suit and rehearsing in front of the mirror only to be reduced, in the moment, to a bottled odor.
I'm glad my parents had the financial security to make the decisions they wanted for our family, but I'm particularly grateful my stay-at-home mom made the joys and realities of pursuing a career part of my life from the very start.
And, like my mom told me, I always go to the party.
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