What Mom Taught Me About Work

By Silver Rose

What Mom Taught Me About Work

While I was on my trip to China, my mother unexpectedly passed away. Fortunately, I had spent the week before her death escorting her on a trip to Atlanta to visit my sister and other relatives. We spent Easter together and a 5-hour plane ride there and back. Before I left for China, she called to tell me how much she appreciated my taking her to Atlanta. Her last words to me were, “I love you.”

The night she left this earth, Mom watched a Lawrence Welk re-run, went to bed around 10PM and never woke up. The coroner said there were no signs of distress; she slept through whatever it was that caused her death. I am hoping to make that a family tradition (just not too soon.)

Upon reflection, I think the cause of death was forced retirement. For 55 years of marriage, my mother took care of my dad. For much of their marriage, it was a part-time job as she raised 5 children and then went to work outside of the home. For the past 20 years, it was her full-time job. When my Dad died last July, my mom was out of a job and she didn’t like it. She was never comfortable without him to look after and even though she volunteered to do other things in the retirement home in which she lived, caring for my Dad was her career. It turns out it was her life.

Here are some of the things I learned about work by watching my Mom do her “job”:
· Acceptance. I never heard my mother complain about the things she did for Daddy. Oh, she definitely complained about Dad (he was not the easiest, let me tell you) but not about her tasks. She would have considered that rather silly. It was the work that had to be done, why question it? Why indeed.
· Appreciation Goes a Long Way. My Dad always let my mother know how much he appreciated her. I think it’s probably why she never complained about her tasks. If there is one thing I stress to managers and supervisors it’s that most people work for appreciation, not just a paycheck.
· Whenever Possible, Use the Supplies You’ve Got – If my mother ran a business the way she ran her household, there would be money in reserve instead of in excess inventory or too much office space. The offices would be utilitarian instead of for show. There would never be dozens of pens languishing in drawers, their ink drying up. There would be only enough paper for what was needed but it would be fully utilized. Instead of writing on one line and then tossing it away, it would be ripped in half and used for notepaper. My mother was one of the most fiscally responsible people I know. Sometimes I think she went overboard but she and my Dad managed, on blue collar salaries, to put enough money away to ensure comfort in their old age. How many of us are managing to do that?

Mostly what I learned from my Mom (and Dad, too) is that work is not a four-letter word. Work is something that is necessary and that can be very good for the soul. Having lived through the Depression, they were thrilled to have work, any work. They couldn’t afford the luxury of trying to decide whether it was the “right” work or not. If they could do it and it paid, then it was the right work.

Fortunately, we have more options than my parents’ generation. But are we using these options wisely? My mother always focused on her gratitude for each paycheck. So many of us focus on negatives. We gripe that we’re not paid enough, or that the government takes too many taxes. How fulfilling would our lives be if we were grateful for the work?

Remember, you attract more of what you focus on. My mother was grateful for what she had. When she passed away, she had a lot. Coincidence? Hardly.

Happy Mother’s Day, from the proud daughter of a career woman.