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Career Day Spotlights Working Mom

Typically, my children don’t ask for my advice on anything—except maybe, “Does this meat taste better with honey mustard or ketchup?” So I jump at any opportunity to share my opinion with someone who actually appreciates it.

For example, recently I was invited to participate in my son’s high school Partners In Education (PIE) program, which is kind of misleading since they don’t serve pie, only bagels, but that’s beside the point. At this annual Career Day, dozens of parents represented a whole spectrum of professions and gathered in the gymnasium to speak to sophomores about what it’s like in the real working world. There was a computer engineer, teacher, architect, accountant, nurse, photographer, web designer, business owner, lawyer, musician, entrepreneur, fashion merchandiser, fireman, vet, Army recruiter, social worker, and book author (that would be me), also known as a stay-at-home mom who never stays home, which is actually the most demanding job of all, but the title was too long to print on a name tag.

The students were happy to get out of class all morning and were instructed to act and dress professionally, spit out their gum, look the parent in the eye, ask a lot of questions, and shake hands afterwards to practice proper business etiquette. Everyone seemed to be on their best behavior, except for me because I had a major head cold and an occasional coughing attack that caused me to pee in my pants (it’s a mom thing), and I actually had to leave the building for a brief time so that I could regain my composure. Still, I seemed to capture the attention of the students who took notes about how I earned a bachelor’s degree in ego from the highest-ranked journalism school in the country only to write obituaries for the Suburban Journals as my first full-time job. I was determined not to sugarcoat anything, so when a teenage girl dressed in a mini skirt and platform heels asked me if writers make a lot of money, I told her to start playing the lottery. I also warned her to be prepared to move back home with her parents after college because 85 percent of recent grads couldn’t find a job right away.

I hope I wasn’t too harsh.

If the school asks me back next year—and they may not—I’ll be sure to bring hand sanitizer and peppermint candies (clears the sinuses) to share with everyone.

Anyway, my goal was to inspire these impressionable Millenials to follow their dreams, work hard, enjoy their youth, and, of course, not use drugs. I also gave them a list of lessons that I learned over the years. I called it:

If Knew Then What I Know Now

• Appreciate your mother’s cooking now because one day you’ll consider Ramen noodles a gourmet dinner.
• Just because you earned a college degree doesn’t mean you won’t be steaming milk at Starbucks.
• Cherish your family because they’ll always be there for you.
• When you’re feeling homesick, your place of worship will welcome you with open arms.
• Don’t be afraid to take risks, unless you’re jumping in front of a train.
• Doodling is not a waste of time, especially if you’re making a mind map that helps you figure out your goals, passions, and actions to make it happen.
• Call your mother.
• See as much of the world as you can when you’re young and single because once you’re married and have children, you’ll be traveling to baseball tournaments every weekend.
• Volunteer. Make community service a way of life, not brownie points on a resume’.
• Stay active and flexible because chasing toddlers is exhausting and sitting Indian style on the floor will be considered a Yoga pose.
• Finally, always empty your bladder before a speaking engagement.