Being a single mom is tough. And being a single, working mom? Even tougher.
For most of my childhood, my mom was the breadwinner in our family and I watched her work tirelessly to chase her dreams as she simultaneously took care of three children.Growing up in a divorced family, I understood that our family dynamic was different. But I also came to realize that having a mother who worked full-time wasn’t that common either.
That didn’t necessarily bother me, it was just different. I was the only one in my circle of friends whose mom had a full-time career, but even as a child—I was proud of that.
Watching my mom’s career path unfold has always been a source of inspiration for me. It sparked an internal desire to work hard at a young age; ultimately leading me to where I am today—a mother who also has a thriving, fulfilling full-time career.
My mom had to overcome a lot of adversity as one of the only women in the engineering program at the University of California in Santa Barbara. She knew she was going into a predominantly male field, and she did it anyway. She didn’t let that stop her.
She knew it would be a difficult road trying to juggle the role of motherhood and the role of a working woman, but she did it anyway. With bravery and composure.
As she continued along in her career, she was discriminated against and judged for not being at home with us and was blatantly told by many of her colleagues, “You should be at home raising your children.”
She was passed on for promotions and overlooked as opportunities arose, even though her skillset was specialized and hard to find. There were many opportunities for her to listen to her critics and give up, but that’s not what she wanted. And so… she persisted.
I’m so glad she did because it showed me what a working mom looks like.
It showed me what determination, despite tribulation, looks like.
It showed me what hard work and persistence can lead to. In her case, it led to impressive engineering roles in aerospace and technology with prestigious companies.
It showed me what women are capable of, as I later learned about the work she was doing with the GOES weather satellite and the defense industry during and after the Cold War.
It showed me how incredible it feels to watch your dreams come to life, as she watched the rocket she worked on launch into outer space from the Vandenberg Airforce Base in our hometown.
It showed me that it is possible to show the world that you are smart and you are capable, even when you are told otherwise at every corner. Even when the odds are stacked against you and it feels impossible to go on.
It showed me that I, too, am capable and that the possibilities for my future are endless.
It showed me that you can do all of this—you can be this brilliant, strong, woman—and you can still be a mom first.
As a child, I never felt that my mother’s career came first. The moment she walked through the door after a long day at work, she was just ‘Mom,’ and I knew that despite her many accomplishments, she was most proud of us.
She attended every ballet recital, every school play, and every first dance. She drove us to and from practices and sleepovers and even found time to spend with us one-on-one.
Looking back, I am in awe of her ability to persist in the face of so much hardship throughout her career, but even more so—I am in awe of how she managed to juggle it all so well.
Thank you, Mom, for showing me what is possible and passing on your determination and drive to succeed as a working mom, even though it wasn’t easy.
Thank you for setting an example of independence and for teaching me to be resilient—a trait I have really needed throughout my adult life.
Thank you for pursuing your dreams and not giving up.
But most of all, thanks for always being ‘Mom.’