Submitted by Ann Brauch
When my daughter Kirsten was a senior in high school, she called me at work one morning toward the end of the school year very upset. She had overslept. And wouldn't you know that it was the morning of her AP Spanish exam. She flat out missed it. I felt horrible knowing that if I'd been a more attentive mother, I could have prevented the situation and the angst that followed. Kirsten was no slacker, and I hated thinking about the consequences she would endure in spite of all of her hard work.
Another mother, a friend who happened to be at school that day, overheard the teacher ball Kirsten out for the transgression in no uncertain terms. Apparently she did not go easy on her. Kirsten was and is a strong young woman, and interestingly, she didn't tell me that part of the story. She accepted full responsibility for her mistake.
Luckily all was not lost, and a make-up exam was offered and taken. I'm sure you won't be shocked to read that Kirsten went on to college, graduated, and is now gainfully employed by a software company in the healthcare field. The mistake did not ruin her life. In fact, I think she learned a lot from it. For starters, I don't think she's overslept since!
As I look back on this experience with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that it was valuable. If I hadn't had my own work and priorities, I might have prevented the situation, and the lesson might not have been learned. At least not then. In some unexpected ways, I think the fact that both my husband and I work has required each of our kids to develop a strong sense of responsibility. And that is serving them well now that they are young adults.
Submitted by Mark Haselmaier
When I was younger, I got hungry after dinner a lot. So I would ask my dad for something to eat. Sometimes he would oblige, but he usually looked at me and said, “Go get a snack. You know how to make a peanut butter sandwich or toast a bagel.”
As I think back on those experiences, I remember realizing that I wasn't the only important person or thing in my parents' lives. I learned that they had other things that were important too, and I needed to become capable enough to handle some things on my own.
Submitted by Jim Haselmaier
When our first child was about six months old and we were in the throes of being new parents, I started feeling weird. I didn't exactly feel sick, it was more like I was feeling really stressed out and anxious. I was pretty worried that there was something seriously wrong, so I went to see a doctor.
Based on the doctor's questions, it became apparent that my "illness" was stress; we had a new baby and my job was intense. The doctor also helped me recognize that my coffee consumption had gone way up. His suggested remedy: Cut down on the coffee; Try to get more sleep; And take a stress management class.
So a couple of weeks later, I'm in a large conference room at the local hospital attending my first stress management class. As I'm contemplating the info the instructor is sharing, the phone on the wall rings. (There were no cell phones back then.) The instructor stops instructing the class, answers the phone, and the room quiets as everyone listens to her end of the conversation. Then she turns to the class and asks, "Is Jim Haselmaier here?" I raised my hand. She says "Your wife and daughter are in the emergency room downstairs."
Our journey as parents and professionals can be exhilarating, hilarious, fulfilling, frustrating ... you name it, right? How do we, all of us, 'keep it together' while managing the everyday trials and chaos of a growing family?
Especially when, for some families, random fate strikes, and we may be faced with a parent's worst fear ... a life-threatening event that impacts one of our precious, dear young children.
A Family Crisis
We were a chaotic, active, happy, motivated young family. Linda and I were taking on life ... and fast! ... 6 kids, a successful and fulfilling career at HP, a wonderful network of friends and family ... and then, one evening, everything turned on a dime.
A funny thing happened after I fell in love with my wife, Linda, while we were both attending Michigan State University: 7 kids, 31 years at HP Inc in various global roles, Linda's day care, volunteering, work at Colorado State University... whew!
We married and then moved away from our families in Michigan to pursue my career at Hewlett-Packard in Colorado. That was back in 1985, so our journey as a couple and as a family has been one of self-reliance from the beginning. It's been an always evolving partnership as our lives unfolded.
Early in our marriage, the stress of it all was a challenge at times. There were deadlines, new jobs, finances, and a young family. It was a challenge to find energy for each other, and I could sense that I wasn't as intuitively grounded as I wanted to be. So i decided I needed to create an explicit framework for myself. I needed to write down not only "what" I wanted to stand for and pursue, but "how" I would hold myself accountable and recognize progress. (Yes, I'm a bit goal-driven.) While this was designed to help me get my personal 'act together', I shared it with Linda during one of our weekly "dates".
Submitted by Kathy Haselmaier
When I started working many years ago, my career goal was simple; show that it was possible for a woman to work full time while raising children. Even back then, it seemed like a modest goal. The thing is, it wasn't easy. Ever. My husband also had a demanding career, so along the way there were challenges, frustrations, and stories that have only became funny in hindsight. But we pulled it off. One day at a time.
While the goal may have sounded trivial, even back then, working parents know that the implementation of it was and is anything but trivial, even today. Some good news is that after our kids left for college I expected to feel the guilt I'd been warned about (because I worked full-time while raising them), but I felt contentment instead.
When we gather with friends, we gain strength and encouragement from the stories we share. Often it is the craziest and most hectic days we recall and laugh about. The daughter who cried for at least five days in a row when we picked her up from daycare. The inability to helicopter parent which resulted in my husband exclaiming, “What do you mean you have to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements by tomorrow morning?!” And the annual Halloween costume conversation which started with, “You can be any character hanging in this aisle [at Walmart].”
For parents who are working and raising kids right now, I think it’s worth clearly stating that what you are doing is hard. And it’ll probably be worth it in the end. You’re showing your "village" that you value the education, upbringing, and guidance they provided. You're showing your employers that working parents can be strong contributors and leaders. You’re showing your kids that hard work is important, it isn’t always easy, and you’re giving them real opportunities to add value around the house which builds lasting self-esteem. You’re showing another generation of young parents what’s possible and hopefully helping them understand that both families and careers are worth the effort.
What you are doing matters.