Do you have children? If so, I'm willing to bet that you have at least one whose personality mirrors your own. The phenomenon can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. In our family's case, it's our youngest child – my daughter – who inherited many of my traits.
She has a clear sense of right and wrong, black and white. She is headstrong, and she has a wit that's both quick and hilarious (in fact, she may have me beat in that category, but I've never told her that). She's in her mid-20s now, and we truly have become best friends. We have come to thoroughly enjoy each other's company, once we found our footing - a good balance between "parent" and "child."
Not surprisingly, this balance hasn't always graced our relationship. I suppose that's true of most mothers and daughters. What is it about that particular dynamic that can so easily get derailed during the perilous teen years? I have my own theories, as I believe that women are wired to have and govern their own space after a time. I've seen some of my girlfriends and their daughters try to navigate living under the same roof once the daughters are adults, and the results are often tense and stressful. Our daughter lived at home the year after she graduated college, and it was no picnic, believe me. Now that she has her own home, the difference is like night and day.
I'm happy to say that she actually seeks my advice now, and on topics that are weighty and of great substance. While she's not likely to ask my opinion regarding fashion (if leggings or jeans don't comprise the bottom half of an ensemble, I don't wear it), but she has come to me for advice about faith, dating, marriage, friends and most recently, career. I consider it an honor to counsel her on these things, yes because she's my daughter, but also because she's sharp and bright. And she's much more brave than I was at her age (I have told her that, and often).
Almost a year ago to the day, she landed a terrific job with a progressive, international company. She worked hard and held out for a job like this one, waiting tables to pay the bills while she searched for the right place for her to embark upon her career path. I thought that resolve was very brave; at her age, I was grateful to take the first "real" job I was offered right out of college. It was OK, but who knows what I might have landed had I been courageous enough to wait? Anyway, my husband and I were thrilled when she got this job; it's the kind of thing many people work their entire lives to achieve.
Not long ago, my daughter said to me that ultimately, this job is simply a stopover on the way to doing what she really wants to do: own her own shop or studio. She asked me, "Am I wasting my time, doing something that I know isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life?" She's seen my husband and me launch, build and sell a business over a 20-year period. She's seen me leave the corporate world to help my husband start that business and once it was healthy, I took another leap of faith to follow the dream I'd had since I was a little girl – to be a writer. I'm glad she's got those examples to follow, but I took this opportunity to tell her something that I wish I'd known at her age.
No matter what we choose to do in the workplace, in the business world, we are learning. We're learning in the best classroom in the world, and that's real life Business 101. Working for someone else, whether in a massive corporation or in a small mom-and-pop business, is the best way to learn what goes on behind the curtains of a business. I explained to her that, no matter whether your dream is becoming an author or owning an auto repair shop, those businesses have things in common: budgeting, forecasting, accounting,marketing, and more. I told her that even as a writer, I spend about 10 percent of my time actually writing, and the other 90 percent managing the business of writing. It's just a fact of life; even our "dream jobs" exist and survive as the result of a lot of hard work, continuing education, faith and our willingness to wear many hats. So no, her time in corporate America is not wasted; it's an investment. And very rarely do dream jobs magically land in one's lap; more often, they are carefully crafted.
It's gratifying and as I mentioned before, an honor, to be able to steer our children in such matters. Once we've put in 20 or so years teaching and modeling faith, character, ethics, manners, civility and such, as parents we get to pour into them as they navigate their own unique paths.
And my daughter will navigate that path without the benefit of leggings, she's informed me. We're a lot alike, but not exactly alike.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she's not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend, or Instagram @carole.w.riter.