I had the immense pleasure of attending the YWCA 2016 Seattle luncheon yesterday where I sat with many talented, smart business women, including our table captain J.C. Johnson and Dr. Constance Rice, along with WA state senator Bob Hasegawa of the 11th District. I must admit I knew very little about the YWCA before attending; however, their goal of eliminating racism and empowering women stirred me.
As a mom of twins, I know personally many tasks associated with parenting fall to the mom, and I have enjoyed this important role since their entry into the world over five years ago. But as I listened to Natalia Arredondo speak to us as a former program participant who came to the YWCA as a broken woman with a baby, no job and mounting legal troubles, my heart was heavy with the burdens moms carry of raising their children, attaining and keeping well-paying jobs and building a quality life for their families. It is difficult beyond words, and I am so grateful the YWCA is there to lift up women who need people to believe in them while they may not believe in themselves.
As I listened to the keynote speaker, University of Washington’s president Ana Mari Cauce, share with us about a study of mothers and daughters she conducted at the outset of her career, it made me think of my relationship with my daughter. Would she and I would have the same fights that Dr. Cauce said are most common between mothers and daughters: staying out too late, hanging out with questionable friends, and cleaning her room? Probably! However, by working through those issues with careful, thoughtful conversations, we will survive!
Dr. Cauce also spoke about racism, which we often think of in obvious terms, but she spoke of an unconscious bias that is in each of us for which we must own up to. She said, “We are the problem, but we are also the solution.” Amen to that, sister.
Two high points I took away from yesterday are: (1) Higher education empowers a woman’s financial freedom – only 3% of women with a bachelor’s degree live in poverty compared to women without a high school diploma of which 40% live in poverty. Stay in school, ladies! (2) My role as a mother is the most important job I will ever do. My career progression may stall as I spend time with them in these formative years, but this is a short season. I am equipping my children to make positive contributions to our society and our world.
Thank you, YWCA, for fueling my gas tank. The job of “mom” is the hardest one in existence, and we need these little pick-me-ups to keep us going!—Bethany