If you didn't already know the incredibly talented and just plain sparkly Erin Loechner from Design for Mankind, then maybe you recognize her from her HGTV home renovation column, or maybe it's from her brand new site Design for Minikind (it's just as smart and stylish as Design for Mankind, but for littles and their parents). In any case, Erin is one of those people who exudes warmth and positivity. She's also incredible at supporting people in becoming their best selves (case in point: resource parties), a mission we can fully get behind here at the Equals Project. In honor of Mother's Day, and mentoring, and the bravery it takes to claim the path that's right for you, Erin is letting us share this piece she wrote for Stories I've Only Told My Mom. If you are a mom, you have a mom, or you've ever sought wisdom other women's stories, we highly recommend you download this beautiful anthology, edited by Sarah Bryden-Brown.
Stories I've Only Told My Mom by Erin Loechner
It was Tuesday and I think I was 7. I know it was Tuesday because I was wearing my day-of-the-week underwear and we both know how dutifully I relied on my unmentionables to celebrate the passage of days.
I don’t know that I was 7 for sure. They didn’t make undergarments for that sort of thing.
I told you I wanted to be a receptionist when I grew up. I had seen a classified listing for a receptionist in the newspaper that afternoon while we snacked on Little Debbie’s Zebra Cakes (my favorite) and Walnuts Brownies (yours). I’m not sure where my sisters were -- probably playing basketball at the neighbor’s house like normal children. I liked to read newspapers and eat treats littered with high fructose corn syrup, watching you grade your students’ English essays and circle typos with a red Papermate.
You peered over your Sally Jesse Raphael style glasses and smiled. “A receptionist for whom?” you asked.
It hadn’t occurred to me that this mattered. I would be typing, talking on the phone and greeting people daily. I would be The Gatekeeper Of The Office. The Hostess Of The Lobby. The Fixer Of The Fax Machine. Every day. And I would get paid for it! $17,000 dollars. Every year. What else mattered?
“Who you work for always matters,” you answered as you corrected a 4th grader’s misspelling of the word “tomahawk.”
Do you remember saying that, Mom?
It changed my life.
I did, eventually, as you know, become a receptionist for a high profile music executive in Los Angeles. I was paid much more than $17,000 a year and was, indeed, The Gatekeeper Of The Office. But after four months of collating concert paperwork and babysitting Sharon Osbourne’s countless canines, I remembered your words.
“Who you work for always matters.”
I quit that day, Mom. Somewhere between papercuts and expense reports, I knew I wanted to live my life with integrity and do work that mattered, for someone who mattered.
Someone like myself.
Since that day, I’ve had many odd jobs as I attempted to supplement an income that could support the life I wanted to live --- inspiring creative artists, designers and writers to pursue their dreams.
As you inspired me to pursue mine.
And along the way, I never accepted a job from someone that I didn’t believe in, and in doing so, created a professional life of integrity. Your words of wisdom on that Tuesday have shaped the way I present myself as a business owner, entrepreneur and writer.
I am now, proudly, The Gatekeeper Of Encouragement. The Hostess Of My Life. The Fixer Of Un-Inspired Souls.
Thank you, Mom.
p.s. Want to know a secret? I made exactly $17,000 working for myself. Dollar for dollar.
p.p.s. I loved every Tuesday of it.