One of the assignments for this week was to write a “Bucket List”; 50 things we want to accomplish before we die. I found this rather difficult, not because I have no aspirations, but because I have accomplished so much already and I thought it would be cheating to include those things on my list. Some may think this is absurd, a stay-at-home mom in her mid 40’s, who feels accomplished, but I really feel this way. Trust me. I have had my fair share and then some of run-ins with people who think my choosing to stay home is evidence of my lack of ability in the world. Some think my intelligence to be inversely proportionate to the number of children I am raising. (I will include one little story about that at the bottom because it has nothing to do with this assignment.) I even see this attitude in reading assignments for my classes and from some classmates, although, I am sure my fellow students have not done this purposely. This attitude doesn’t usually bother me much, because the people who feel this way are the ones who don’t know me. I know I am intelligent and capable and I became Mom on purpose. I understand the honor and responsibility of the position. I am confident in the eternal perspective given me by testimony in the gospel. Lately, it has bothered me, a lot.
The problem is that this attitude is coming from me. I am feeling intimidated by reading of the start-up of Yahoo! and other giants of business. I think, “Who am I to go out there thinking I can do these things?” But, in the reading for this week I ran across one simple sentence I really appreciate. In the book “The Start-up of You,” by Reid Hoffman, cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn and Ben Cosnocha, was this little gem.
“You can carve out a … niche in the job market by making choices that make you different from the smart people around you.”
These authors assume I am smart and automatically put me in that group. I should too. They think my life experience is worth something. I should too. I may not be interested in starting a company and making it into something like Yahoo! or LinkedIn or any of those other companies out there, but my ideas and dreams do have value and not just at home.
A little anecdote about being rude.
I volunteer with my local emergency management office where I participate in community response to emergencies. During one particular exercise I met several FBI officers who were assigned to my area of the command post. As the day opened we introduced ourselves and because they all knew each other already, they began to ask me questions. How long had I been working in Emergency Management? What other events had I been part of? Many people who are part of response, are really from other agencies like fire or public health. Because of this, they asked what my usual day job was. You could have heard a pin drop when I answered, “I am a mom expecting baby number 4 in two weeks.” They literally turned their backs making conversation between themselves, never saying anything more to me. I went to work fulfilling my responsibility.
During a break in activity their boss, the Regional FBI director who happened to be a former member of my stake presidency, walked into the room and searched the faces looking for someone. His gaze landed on me and his face lit up. He walked right to me and shook my hand. “Jennifer! It’s great to see you. How are the kids?” We continued to have a conversation for a while catching up on life, then he asked if I had seen the person he was looking for. After giving him direction on where he could find him he left without saying a single word to any of the officers there. I turned back to the room to find all of them staring at me with their mouths agape and they fell all over themselves trying to figure out who I really was and how I knew their boss. I think I took too much pleasure at their discomfort, because it was obvious they felt badly for the way they had treated me. I still laugh about it. Perhaps I should repent for that!