The other day, I was eating lunch with a friend at Logan’s in Houston discussing all the things I’m up to now. Her response, “Jackie, how do you do it with kids? You have a full time job at the school, a book out, another book in the making, you’re blogging, coaching kids in soccer, you run everyday, and now I hear you are shooting motivational videos!” I was flattered but not surprised. I got this a lot. My answer? I don’t give one. I just shrug and smile. Heck, I don’t even know how I do it. I just do. I’ve just always been like that. But I can tell you I learned something important from a very smart lady years back before I had kids. I learned how to be a mother and have it all too as the saying goes.
My story goes back to my teenage years sitting in Piccadilly at the Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles, LA. My grandmother, who raised four kids while working as a librarian at the local college, used to give me pointers on raising kids long before I ever knew I wanted any. She would look around at all the mothers and grimace. Then, she would complain about how these moms would do everything for their kids. She would say, “Look, Jacqueline (she was the only one that called me by my full name), isn’t it sad how these moms do everything for their kids? Not only are they not teaching their kids anything, but they are also wearing themselves out. You know kids that age do most of the labor on country farms.” I would tear into my crab salad trying to get her to change the subject. But she would continue on and on about how she raised her kids to be independent, and how I should do the same from the very beginning unless I wanted to give up all I worked for to be their handmaid. I wanted so badly to roll my eyes, but I wouldn’t dare. Grandma was a face slapper!
Before everyone criticizes her, I want to point out that that was the same woman that graduated high school early at fifteen, graduated from LSU with a Master’s in Chemistry, and then tried to get a job working in a science lab only to be repeatedly turned away because she was, take a guess, a woman. Which was typical back then, it was the fifties. She just wanted me to embrace the opportunities that I had that she didn’t.
Well, I had my babies, three of them, and decided to do the one thing I thought I’d get disowned for: ‘be a Stay at Home Mom!’ The day I told her, she just stared at me for a second and asked, “Jacqueline, you have a business degree and a great job as an Accountant. You can still work and raise them too. You can do it all, so what is the problem?” After I explained to her where my heart was at the time, she actually smiled. She told me it was the right thing to do because a woman’s heart always prioritizes the most important thing in their lives, their children. SHOCKER!
So, I followed my heart and sacrificed my career for what I thought was important. However, I still taught my kids to do as much for themselves as they could like she instilled in me. They had chores, helped with cooking, yard work, etc… So much so, I got incredibly bored. What does a career woman do when she is accustomed to being busy and finds herself not so busy anymore? She starts a business from home. I started a cake business. By the end of the first year, I was baking twenty five cakes a week for birthdays and weddings. And guess what? I taught my kids the ropes too. My kids learned how to bake, decorate, and help with wedding setups. It was a family affair. I continued to stay home with them for another seven years before I ventured back into business.
I don’t regret my time home with my babies, at all. But I did learn a thing or two about how working moms pull it off because of what my grandmother taught me back in that Piccadilly over a crab salad- That we need to teach and expect our kids to help the family too. However, the biggest lesson I picked up from her then and through the years, was that a woman can do it all as long as we don’t sacrifice what is really important and what makes us happy-our hearts and our dreams.
I do juggle a lot, but it is what makes me happy. When I’m happy, my family is happy. On top of all that, I’m instilling the same values in my daughter.