My Mentor, My Friend, My Hero, My Mom

By Grace Wydeven

As I’m flopping down on the couch after a day of classes, my mom is in a meeting. It’s 5:30, and she’s still at work. As I’m dialing her number I remember that she has this meeting. As I hang up, I receive a quick text saying “Hi, everything ok?” Which of course, it is. I reply as much and she tells me she’ll call back in an hour on her drive home.

The week before last she had been on weeklong work trip, splitting her time between New York and New Jersey for various meetings and events. She would call from her hotel room and we would recount our days: my classes, my friends, my weekend plans, her co-workers, her presentations, her thoughts on my sister’s homecoming dress.

My mom has worked full time for the past six years. She rises before 6, and often gets home after 6. She manages a large team of people, leads panel discussions on gender and diversity, presents to executives and peers alike, and always stands behind the work she puts in. She is not afraid to speak up in a boardroom, or have a one-on-one discussion with a co-worker. She is so much more than a “boss”—she is a true leader. On top of her full time job as an insurance executive, my mom also has the full time job of being the mother to three (at times high maintenance) daughters. Though she seems to be working around the clock, you’ll never see her break a sweat. She manages two full time jobs with style and grace—a feat is nothing other short of miraculous.

Watching my mom juggle home, work, and life in general has undoubtedly shaped my idea of womanhood, professionalism, leadership, and confidence. She saunters into the office in Lily Pulitzer blouses and smart thick glasses. She speaks eloquently and writes professionally. She commands a room with presence simply cannot be denied. She is not cocky—she is smart, knowledgeable, prepared, and determined. She serves simultaneously as my mother and my mentor, my best friend and my strongest motivation. She is not just my mom, nor is she just a professional woman. Like a modern-day Superwoman, she can do both—the roles are not mutually exclusive.

My mom, like so many other working mothers, proves that the horribly outdated expectation of a domestic wife is just that: horrible and outdated. In fact, she is a better leader than most because she has the kind of experience that only being both a woman and a mother could provide. She has put up with discrimination, both subtle and overt, in the workplace. She has defied expectations by going back to work after raising three kids, and yet she has only scratched the surface of her ability. She continues to move up, receive accolades, and demand respect. She continues to show, rather than simply tell me, that being a mother, having a career, and defying any kind of gender normative expectation is not only possible, but important.

Thanks for that, mom.