Today, I am very happy with the order of how I prioritize my life. How a person spends their time shows their priority. My mother influenced me greatly. She taught me the importance of spending time with my family. I remember years ago, before I became a mother myself, I asked her “Do you have any regrets?”. She said, “I regret not spending more time with you”. I found that quite ironic as I remember a wonderful childhood, spending many Saturdays with my mother at the movies, at the Free Library of Philadelphia, at the museums, at the bookstore, at @University of Pennsylvania, and at Sayre Recreation Center during the winter as we swam in the community pool. All my friends knew my mom as we spent many days and many nights at my house. My mom was the den mother (#theirony). She was the mom who cooked (#theirony) so all my friends knew where they could eat.
When I finally became a mom with 3 children within 5 years and at the top of my career financially, I found it quite disappointing. I had no time to actually enjoy my children. Monday through Friday I was at work. Saturday and Sunday I was preparing for work. I left the house at 7 am to return home at 6:30pm to talk to my team in Hyderabad, India at 10pm to get in bed at 12am and get up at 6am to do it all over again. I was exhausted and unhappy.
I left corporate america so I could have time freedom to actually enjoy being a mom. Of course, I did not know what it takes to be an entrepreneur but I was blessed. I had a BFF who came on the entrepreneurial journey with me. For 3 years, I sacrificed spending time with my children to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I had a mentor who taught hundreds of people.I felt honored just to be in the room. I had a BFF, (and her children, her sister, her parents, etc.) who took in my children as her own. My journey is really our journey.
Last year, a former client, Tonya Ladipo, held a workshop series called S.O.S. for the superwoman. At the workshop, I was ready to accept the fact that, “I can have it all just not at the same time” This is NOT my time. My mom warned me to prioritize my children. My religion backed up the priority of God, Family then Work. I must say, I did not really understand that concept until I was forced to educate my children at home. What I remember about my childhood was a string of single moms except for the Muslim family. My model of Islam was the man of the house took care of the family financially and the woman took care of the children. Although I was outside the model, I knew the education of my children was my priority. What I see is that schools run amok from lack of oversight by the parents. If mom is working and dad is working who is making sure the children are learning?
The responsibility of education does not fall on schools alone and it also does not fall on parents alone. In our quest for individualism, i.e. capitalism, we have lost the community, i.e. socialism. Education is what is being taught at home – morals and values that is reinforced in school, learning, that is put in practice in after school activities. I had to leave the confines (cubicles) of corporate america to SEE the problems in our economic system. It is an economic system that is being driven by productivity (longer hours) at the expense of our children.
Fortune magazine – http://fortune.com/2015/06/29/black-women-entrepreneurs/ reports “The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Overall, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% between 1997 and 2015—a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average, according to the recently published “2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express Open. None of this surprises Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Her organization has seen an uptick in membership from black women entrepreneurs.
“We attribute the growth in women-owned firms to the lack of fair pay, fair promotion, and family-friendly policies found in corporate America,” she said. “Women of color, when you look at the statistics, are impacted more significantly by all of the negative factors that women face. It’s not surprising that they have chosen to invest in themselves.”
It is not only that the African American female MUST invest in herself, as the statistics also point out, the African American woman is also the head of the household. As the head of household, she must also invest in her family. That is the proper order – God, family then work 🙂