I’m 26 years old. In my lifetime, I’ve technically had four real bosses. Two of those acted as my employers for part-time jobs during high school and college. Jobs I knew I would leave. Jobs I knew were temporary as I attended school for my “real” career. The third boss was a principal I barely saw during a whirlwind of a first year in education. This one? This one takes the cake.
As working moms, we deal with a slew of changes on a regular basis. We would probably think something was wrong if things weren’t changing. Our children grow. And grow. And grow. They eat more. Their sleep patterns, eating habits, behaviors change in the blink of an eye. We deal with sickness. We deal with unexpected days off. We struggle with the choices to breastfeed and pump while working with infants at home. We agonize over our many choices for childcare options. We face times when we have to say no and do less at work, and then times of smooth sailing when we figure it out, get back on track, and start taking on more.
When I went back to teaching after maternity leave, I looked like what I was—a sobbing mess. One person who listened, who never judged, who encouraged me, who understood when I needed to step down from leadership positions to leave right at 2:30 every day to pick up a little boy, who told me how great I was when I know hands down that I wasn’t… was my boss.
How many people can say that? How many people can say they love—LOVE—who they work for? That they respect and admire their boss’ decisions? I’m honored to say that I can.
For the last four years, during major personal changes in my life and professional upheaval in our school and district, my principal stood firm. She is the rock of our school.
We found out recently that she is leaving. Her promotion to a position at the district office thrills me, truly. I’m so excited for her and this new endeavor that she 100% deserves. But selfishly? I’m sad and disappointed.
Not many working moms feel supported by their bosses, plain and simple. I have never felt unsupported. Even on my worst day in the classroom, on days I woke up a half hour before the first school bell was supposed to ring, on days I slummed in jeans and a sweatshirt or days I didn’t get any sleep because the baby was teething, she was my cheerleader. She hired me as a clueless 22-year-old. She gave my husband a reference when he transferred counties. She led our school, a brand new school in the county, from an F grade to an A grade with her determination and inspiration.
I’m not sure yet what changes will happen in my life as a working mom as I say goodbye to the best boss I’ve ever had—and maybe will ever have. I’m not sure who my next boss will be. All I know is there will be a hole, something missing in my daily life. But in the back of my mind, I’ll always know our school is her home, our staff is her family, and our students’ successes and failures matter deeply to her. Her voice resounds in the back of my head telling me to keep going. And the new boss? He or she has some big shoes to fill.
I want to encourage you working moms, if you don’t feel respected in the work place, if you don’t work for and with a boss who treats you like you’re a valued member of a team with the same goal in mind, rethink your position. Re-evaluate your choice of work place. I know not everyone has the luxury of changing jobs, but if you, like me, are in a career for the long haul, and if you, like me, are in a career that requires constant flexibility and adaptation and patience—oh God, the patience—then make sure you’re working with someone who believes in you. Someone ethical. Someone logical. Someone hardworking. Someone driven. I’ve been so fortunate to work with someone who believes in me and in what I do for the last four years.
It makes such a difference.
And if you’re as blessed as I am, and you do work for a boss you respect and enjoy working with, give him/her your best. There are so many days I wish I could do over. But such is life.
So, to my boss, for your unconditional care and respect, thank you. Always keep your watch set to school time. We’re with you wherever this life takes you. Goodbye for now and good luck!