Recently Eric and I toured a local private school as part of our on-going journey to figure out where to send Aubrey for Kindergarten. As we strolled the halls during the self-guided tour time, we struck up a conversation with a parent volunteer. After a few minutes of answering our questions, she told us more about herself, “I have an eight year old girl and a two year old boy. This morning (a Saturday) as I got ready to leave the baby was crying. He didn’t want me to go. That’s always so hard…” her voice trailed off then she started again, “but I wanted to be here to do something for the school. Because I work full-time I can’t volunteer for a lot of the classroom stuff that happens during the week.”
We thanked her for being there on a Saturday and inquired about her work. It turns out she is a scientist working on curing cancer. As she spoke about her research her tired eyes sparkled and she was filled with a sudden energy. She spoke about specific cancers that are now on the decline, and risk factors that can be controlled to improve others. “I love what I do. Life can be so crazy and hard, but I really am passionate about my work. I know it’s making a difference in the world.”
I could totally relate. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to zoom out and share about my career with Aubrey’s Pre-k class. As I talked about working at a charitable clinic that serves people who can’t afford to see a doctor, or don’t have insurance (Aubrey at my side calling on her classmates) I was reminded of why I endure the hectic schedule and long days… to make a difference. To be a part of something bigger than me that has a tangible, positive effect on the lives of other people.
These sweet moments come every once in a while… there was the time I was on a conference call with an architect planning our capital expansion project. As we talked about the vision for the new fitness center and how it would help patients with diabetes, heart disease, and other health related illnesses I looked around the room: a motley crew of people who had never done this before were working as a team and turning long-dreamed dreams into reality. It was a holy moment.
Then there was the day I came by work with the girls on a Friday morning to visit our Homeless Clinic and one of the patients stood up to share how Good Sam had completely changed his life. He was crying happy tears and saying thanks for everything – from the breakfast to the bus transportation to the medical care – he has received that not only got him on a path to healing, but also helped him secure a job. Aubrey leaned over and explained to me that he wasn’t sad; he was crying tears of joy.
There was the day Breanna and I received word that a Christian publisher was going to take a chance on two no-name first time authors who wanted to write a very esoteric book about social determinants of health. We were braced to submit our manuscript over and over again, but instead they said yes. I ran through the halls until I found her (leading a Medical Team meeting) and yelled out, “we’re going to write a book!!!”
Moms stay because we make a difference. We stay because today’s world is full of complex problems that we can help solve. We stay because the very same skills that make us good at home with our babies make us good in the board room or in the research lab. We stay because our work matters and even though we give up our free time and “me time” and well, just time in general to do it – every once in a while we have a few minutes to see the impact and remember why we work in the first place.