From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

In Mom We Trust

It was twenty years ago, but when I recall those days with my two daughters, I smile, and sometimes I sigh.

I had just moved to a new town. Michelle was thirteen and Heather was seven. That meant new schools for them, a new job for me. I took a sales and marketing job so that I could work out of my home and spend more time with them.

We were all going through a tough adjustment. The girls didn’t understand that I was working now, even though I was at home. If I had to work in the evening, it was: “Oh, no, not another meeting.” Phone messages got lost, and long faces were common.

Then I got an idea. I needed to somehow include them in my business. Get them on my team. So I came up with a plan. That night after dinner, I sat them down and explained my plan.

If I made my monthly business goals, then we would take 10 percent of my income and split it into three kitties. They each would get a third, and a third would go into a fund for taking a fun trip together. They didn’t seem particularly impressed. Yawns and bored looks met my enthusiasm. That first month, I did manage to meet my goals, though the girls’ attitudes remained about the same—until the day I sat them down again and counted out the money. We went to the bank and opened three savings accounts. I recommended that they save half and spend half of their third. We deposited the first payment into our trip account. Their eyes were wide. I had made an impact.

The second month, I noticed a difference. Phone messages would be printed out on my desk. Heather couldn’t spell that well yet, but I will always remember one message: “Mary cant come to the meeding. Call her bak.”

One day during that second month, I was having a hard time juggling all my roles and probably was experiencing some plain old depression because of my divorce. The girls came home from school and found me at my desk looking forlorn.

Michelle ran up to me. “Come on, Mom, get on the phone. It’s only three o’clock! You’ve still got a few hours left.” Her enthusiasm and energy were just what I needed, and I did just that.

Another night, I was worn out and told them I was going to bed right after dinner. I think they could tell I was having another low point. The next morning when I got up and walked into my office, I discovered that they had been busy while I slept. The flip chart that I sometimes used in sales presentations was open to a new page. On it they had copied a dollar bill, but then decided to make it a hundred dollar bill. Then instead of “In God We Trust,” they had crossed out God and put “In Mom We Trust.”

I was touched and tickled all at the same time. They were so pleased that they could cheer me on. We laughed and giggled about the poster. I left it up, and each time I saw it, I tried harder.

Months went by, and I began to succeed in my new field. I became the top salesperson in my group and then moved up to become a sales manager, which meant that I was responsible for other salespeople. I always told my story about my daughters and our teamwork. It helped and inspired others and always brought smiles.

In the beginning, the girls had been whining and complaining, now they were the steam in the engine of my train. I was a powerful force with those two behind me. Each month I met my goals, and we went through the ritual of dividing up the money, so they could save and spend theirs and we could save for our trip.

Michelle, a typical teenage girl, bought a lot of clothes, mostly pink. I kept my mouth shut because it was her money, and she was learning to manage it. Heather saved most of hers, though she did buy a guinea pig and later hamsters, including cages, exercise wheels, and other accessories. She was thrilled.

My daughters became respectful when I was working. I remember one day during a school break. I was on the phone and Heather and her best friend, Jennifer, were playing with a balloon in the living room, right next to my office. They were hitting the balloon back and forth and squealing in delight.

Then the phone rang in my office, and I picked it up. Without my saying a word, it was as if someone had pressed the mute button on the television. They were still batting the balloon, but without sound. I laughed out loud as I watched this scenario. As soon as I hung up the phone, the sound came back on.

We had begun our little experiment in January, and by summer, I was the top-producing person in my company. We were able to take a trip to visit my dad in Hawaii, paying for the tickets from our trip fund. As we sat on the plane, we all felt proud that we had worked for this and now could enjoy it together. I thanked them again for their support and encouragement.

As time went on, I noticed other advantages of their being a part of my business. When Heather sold Girl Scout cookies, she wanted to earn a T-shirt, which meant she had to sell seventy-five boxes. She had been sick and had only a few days left to accomplish her task.

She called Jennifer and Jennifer’s brother Phillip to come over and help her. They took over my desk and sold the cookies just the way I had been doing my business for months—on the phone. They called all the relatives they could think of. Grandpa Don in Hawaii was first. “Hello, Grandpa Don, this is Heather. I’m selling Girls Scout cookies, and I was wondering how many boxes I can send to you. We can ship them.”

I heard myself echoed in her words and actions. Not only that, but she became the sales manager, having her friends call their grandparents and sell to them. At the end of three hours and much hilarity, they had sold all seventy-five boxes!

When a little girl knocked on our door asking if we wanted to buy cookies, Heather looked at me and said, “Mom, she’s doing it the hard way.”

My working at home had started out as a difficult situation, but it became a delightful way for us to share my work and for the girls to learn about business. Heather ended up saving enough money so that years later, when she graduated from college, she was able to go to Europe.

Even now, twenty years later, I still smile when I remember those sweet days. We were all learning so much—so much was new. And having one another and being a team made it a rich, full, and fun experience. I cherish those memories. And both my daughters became successful businesswomen.

I like to think it all started with “In Mom We Trust.”

Diane M. Covington

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