Friday, March 6, 2009

Working mom extraordinaire

Most of you know I'm a full-time working mom who happens to be at home with my child two days a week. While I work. And most of you ask me, How the heck do you do that?

Truth be told, I'm not sure. I just do it. The best I can. And I have lots of help.

The bigger question, really, is how do any of us do it? Mothering is hard enough, but how in the world do so many of us mother AND work full-time outside the home. (And I know most women don't have nearly the flexibility in their work schedules that I have.) It's astounding, when you think about it. Juggle, juggle, juggle is the name of the game. We do what we have to do, and we give it our best shot.

When I tripped upon this particular article a few weeks ago (forgive me for being totally behind the headlines on this), I put it aside to share with you.

Pat Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, hit a career milestone a few weeks back that perhaps no other person, male or female, in her field will ever hit: She won her 1,000th game. An amazing accomplishment, truly. I can't think of anything to compare it to in the non-sports world, other than to say, simply, she's the best.

But bigger than the victories, she's coached over 153 women -- been a mentor and a teacher and a disciplinarian. I can tell you from my limited experience in Division 2 basketball, you spend a lot of time with your teammates and coaches; they become your family away from your family. So Summitt serves as a stand-in mom to these girls during their careers, and certainly long after.

I was happy to see that in the coverage of Summitt's career, at least one reporter decided to cover the lesser reported bits about Summitt's other career: motherhood. She has an 18-year-old son named Tyler who has been with her on the sidelines throughout at least half of her career. He attends practices and travels with the team, and there are countless images of him cutting down nets with his mommy after her team won another championship.

As I read the article, my own son was sitting on my lap, home sick from preschool, and I had my laptop open on the other leg, ready to get to work. And I thought, wow, it's hard enough for me to balance my two jobs with even the most flexible schedule -- I can't even imagine how difficult it has been for Summitt to balance it all, with the travel and time demanded of her. We all know she's had lots of help, but that's good. Help is good, always. She also cooks dinner for Tyler every night that she's home. That's cool.

In this article, Tyler talks about how he wants to be a basketball coach when he's out of college, maybe even with his mom. I looked at my own little guy sharing lap space with my work, and I wonder if he will someday look to me as a mentor, if my working with him next to me is instilling in him any idea about the importance of both work and family. I hope he will always know, too, that family has always come first -- and always will.

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