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What's Your Bottom Line?
by Kenyatta Thomas
When The Question To Stay Home or Continue To Work Arises

There always seems to come that time when we have to make "THAT" choice. It was a choice that I decidedly made when I was asked the question - though not in these exact words - What is ultimately more important to you - job-front or homefront?

For one of my co-workers - her answer was immediate. Job-front . . . and she'd do whatever she had to do to make sure her work would always come first. Her career is very important to her. And as everyone who comes into contact with her soon realizes, she is on a personal mission to retire by age 40, preferably a millionaire. With her new husband clocking 60 hours a week, and a new baby and house to boot, she's considered the wonder woman of our office - and marvel.

Working hard and retiring rich is her bottom line, and I totally respect her for her drive, her ambition as does everyone who comes into contact with her on a daily basis.

The same question was posed to me, "Kenyatta, what's YOUR bottom line?" This was asked after my boss projected her goals for me - which didn't surprise me - but I knew MY answer would surprise HER.

My bottom line was first and foremost my family. As much as I've liked the job I have, as much as I've enjoyed the flexibility of my job, I've never made it a secret that spending as much time with my son and husband was the most important thing to me. Not surprisingly, my supervisor was very disappointed in my response. She saw big things for me - management.

I saw big things for me too - spending more and more time with my son, pursuing my writing full-time, continuing to paint, finally finding something that would allow me to work from home.

My supervisor saw this as "lack of drive and ambition". She thought voicing her disappointments to me would somehow strike a competitive edge. It was her way of trying to motivate me. But it freed something within me that I didn't really believe was there.

I forced my bottom line head on, and it wasn't at all the way I ever thought it would be. For the first time, I was truly honest with how I felt. I explained to her that just because my goals and ambitions were pointed towards things that SHE could not relate to or understand, didn't mean that they were any less valid. I told her that while I still would continue to be a part of our group, management was NOT something I wanted. If I were to eventually be ANYONE'S boss, it would be my own.

The conversation between my supervisor and I brought such clarity to me, because while I always liked the job I have, it's just that - a job - not a career choice for me.

The long-term career I see for myself is Mom first, and hopefully, eventually, a career as a writer. But what my long-term career goals DON'T include, are goals that someone else chooses for me. I may not retire a millionaire by 40, but hopefully by 40, I will be doing what I truly love to do. Something that I have chosen for myself, something that I love, that won't necessarily be rewarded by money.

My ultimate goal of becoming a full-time writer may NEVER bring me great material wealth, but staying true to my self and my dreams will definitely bring me spiritual wealth. And THAT is Kenyatta's Bottom Line, which my supervisor may not have liked, but she ultimately respects finally.

This article isn't about judgments. It's about the choice we all will eventually have to make, and one I believe is essential to a working mom's well being. Whether physically, materially or mentally and spiritually, making peace with ourselves, recognizing our bottom lines, and NOT letting others choose our paths, will be what makes us ALL successful. Not just as working women . . . but women.

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