That Spring, as I was mixing up yet another batch, I asked my Mom if she wanted me to make her a sandwich as well. She nodded as she told the school secretary, Mrs. Feeley, that I wouldn't be coming in today. Instead, I would be shadowing her, participating in Take Your Daughter to Work Day. I was so excited; not only to miss school, but to ride next to the Road Warrior all day, solving the mystery of what makes her power suits so powerful.
After dropping the kids off at school, my Mom and I used the car phone (novel technology in 1994) to check in with the office. Through a sniffily nose, her secretary Chris said everything was quiet so far. We hung up, then made our way to Mount Pleasant, a small coal mining town about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. We had one mission today: take a deposition. It was a term, like asbestos, toxic torts and dictation, that I had heard a thousand times around the dinner table, but like everything my Mom, esquire, did, I had a (very) limited understanding of what the legalese meant.
During my day on the job with my Mom, I learned that a deposition happens outside of a court room, that lawyers ask a lot of questions, that small towns have comically gigantic books where they record all that has gone on in their sleepy history, and that people from Mt. Pleasant speak a mean Yinzer. The thing I remember most though, was sitting side by side in my Mom's maroon Buick Park Avenue eating tuna salad sandwiches after the deposition was over. There in the car, my Mom broke out of her litigator tone, laughed with me about the size of the massive ledger, called Grandma to give her the play by play, and complimented me on a sandwich well made. Sure, she was one of the top lawyers in Western Pennsylvania, but in that moment I could tell her favorite job was being my Mom.
Despite not digesting the finer points of litigation, I learned a lot on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Namely, that I wanted to be just like my Mom when I grew up. I wanted to have a career, and a car phone, and silk blouses tucked into tailored pant suits. More importantly, I wanted a family that I was working to support. I knew, judging from the occasional angst my Mom directed toward the PTA Moms, it would be a challenging pursuit, but I couldn't imagine doing it any other way.
After all, there was something more magical about my Mom pulling up in Sewickley to watch me play Field Hockey, or seeing her smiling face in a pew at Chapel or opening the lunch she had packed for me, labeled with her stylized handwriting. I knew how busy she was and how stressful her job could be, but my brother, sister and I always came first. And in her way, she took us to work every day - framed and arranged on her desk, as dividends of her pay checks that made private educations, vacations, dance classes, piano lessons, ski school and Au Bon Pain lunches possible, and in her thoughts and prayers as she road the interstates from Pittsburgh to Wheeling, West Virginia.
My mom taught me that motherhood is the best job of all. That family always comes first. And that paychecks are much better spent on the people that you love. As I head back to work on Tuesday, I will keep my Mom's example close, and my family closer.
To SGS, thank you for hosting such a lovely, bubbly celebration at the Chicago Yacht Club today.
And to all the other mommies in my life, thank you for passing along your tips of the trade. Your support over the past two years has been invaluable.
No doubt about it. I have the best job ever.