Archives For social life

I had a chance to do something today that I’d never previously done in my 36 years on this earth. I visited inner-city poor people in a major U.S. city.

inner city housing

Me. A tall, doughy-skinned, somewhat naive woman who lives in a city where the vast majority of her neighbors look the same.

Me. A person who’s lived in five different places, all located within 15 miles of the other over three decades.

Me. A former spinner on the mouse wheel of corporate America turned advocate for change.

I don’t talk much on this blog about what I do for a profession. And that’s intentional. I learned long ago that it was best for me to separate my work life from my social life.

When my children were babies, I second-guessed my decision to work at all. On those dreadful mornings when one of them would cry out for me as I returned to my car to leave them at daycare, trying not to let them see me cry myself, I hated the idea that I abandoned them. I never wanted them to think their mom valued the almighty dollar over their happiness.

I saw those kinds of parents at the office. They clocked in early, left late, traveled often, and I wondered if they took pride in how many meetings and high-profile events they attended. Were they more concerned about being known by others than being known by their children? Did they justify their actions based on the size of their massive homes and the vastness of their personal toy collection? Did they need to be reminded that none of the credentials trailing behind their names was as important as the letters “M.O.M.” or “D.A.D.” in the eyes of their offspring?

It was during those years when I learned this about myself: No profession, no matter how fulfilling, will ever be more important to me than family.

So you can imagine my relief when, just over a year ago,  I found a company that allowed me to put my family first as well as gave me the opportunity to positively impact other families.

I now work with the poorer population, specifically on trying to improve access to health care and outcomes. What I do is not always considered useful or socially acceptable.

I’ve learned that as a people in general, we like to preach. We like to judge. It’s easier to criticize what’s going wrong (and, believe me, I know a LOT is going wrong in health care) versus build up the right.

I had the chance to shadow a young woman today who is building up the right. Her job is to visit with people who haven’t been to their doctors and ask them why. She goes to their homes, answers questions, schedules appointments, and shows genuine concern.

She’s also completing her last year of studies to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A mom of three just like me.

It costs money to send people like her out into communities. Some may wonder why on earth money is spent on reminding people to do something that comes so naturally to so many of us. I mean, come on, visiting a doctor isn’t that hard.

That is, if you have a car like I do. If you have a job that gives you PTO like I do. If you have someone to watch your kids like i do. If you had a mom or dad who introduced you to a pediatrician like mine did. If you speak the same language as the office staff who schedule the appointments. If….if…if…

I learned the power of not making assumptions today. Every person is an individual with individual needs.

helping hand

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 
― Leo Buscaglia

Created by Heidi Woodard

As my four-year old daughter and I lay in bed one evening, she started in on a litany of endless questions per her normal bedtime routine.

When will get a husband? When will I be a mommy?

I instinctively launched into a series of sensible replies. You don’t need to worry about getting married until you are done with college. After college, you can find a job that you like and then maybe find a husband too. After you are married, you could become a mommy. And then I will be a grandma! (giggles…hers genuine, mine nervous)

A large part of me wanted to preach about not rushing into sharing her life with others. I want her to know what it’s like to get to know and love herself first.

But then I paused and thought about how awesome it is that she really wants to be a mom someday.

Heaven knows I am not the poster child for attentiveness. I work full-time, which means my children have other caregivers besides me that they rely upon. I write often so it’s not uncommon for them to see mom’s face buried in her laptop. I run on occasion so they’ve had to accept that exercise contributes to mom’s happiness.

However, I am also confident they know there isn’t anything I value more in life than them.

I’ve consciously chosen to put them first, over climbing the corporate ladder, ahead of my social life, and even before my husband when I think about it. Date nights get scheduled or they don’t happen in the midst of our kids’ activities.

cocktails by candlelight...errr...the glow of TVs

cocktails by candlelight…errr…the glow of TVs

The last drinks I shared with my spouse were more of a survival tactic than a pleasurable escape. We sipped them in between basketball games while eating dinner at a local sports bar. The romantic ambiance of blaring TVs was surpassed only by the chatter of overstimulated children.

The funny part is…I honestly wouldn’t want to live my life any other way.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to check out every now and then, throw my hands up in the air, and auction them all off to the highest bidder.

It simply means that chaos feels comfortable.

Knowing that my little girl wants to follow in my footsteps is humbling to say the least. I have a feeling I will want to follow her lead too.

I just hope she doesn’t leave me in the dust as she heads off to conquer the world.

Created by Heidi Woodard