Written in 2011

 

“So, what do you do?” was asked by a doctor at a recent party.  Of course, he was trying to see how important I was.  I didn’t do a verbal resume with degrees and work  history.  Instead with a straight face and smile I pleasantly replied, “I’m a CEO…(and in the same breath) of my son’s life”.  “Oh”, with a puzzled look and he caught it.  We had a great conversation and he moved on.  How often do we feel insignificant even though we know taking care of children is one of the toughest jobs.

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“Mom, besides taking care of me, what’s your real job?” asks Brandon after we just made our journey home to the Santa Cruz area.  After a long week of school living away 2 hours from my husband after a job transfer, and a whole host of detailed logistics, I couldn’t believe my ears.   We decided to make many sacrifices in order for Brandon to complete his final year of middle school since it was almost flawless.  Commuting, living out of suitcases and all of the schlepping around is exhausting.  On top of that, weekly projects, studying, keeping all of the restaurants in business each day, driving to and fro, life has been very unsettling.   I haven’t had a “real job or career” so to speak of since he was five and lately, I’ve been feeling as though I haven’t accomplished a thing since we moved here almost 9 years ago.  This was my answer…..

“I’m a CEO that’s a Chief Executive Officer and here’s my job description; I manage multiple projects for an individual to make sure he’s successful in all of his engagements.  This includes strategic planning for modeling, acting, painting, academics, and athletic opportunities.  I strive to provide the highest quality of reaching my client’s potential in life which on my part includes networking resources and communicating with other families, peers and professionals.  I’m responsible to make that my consumer has up to date medical and dental follow up with various doctors and specialists to ensure he’s on top of his game.  I take on projects, fundraisers and activities around the consumer in order that my client is fully included at his place of work.  While he’s busy during the day, I make sure that the infrastructure is in place because at any given time, I may need to change gears to troubleshoot a situation that may arise.  Since there are a variety of requests, I have become a resource for others and handle many difficult situations that include meetings with conflict/resolution to ensure a positive outcome.   I serve as a focal point to all communication between partners which could be a full-time job in itself because my employer has high expectations and always wants to succeed in all that is sought out.  I constantly manage and disseminate all of his workload, prioritize and plan in order for him to have some down time at night.  In addition, I’m in charge of providing and creating his social calendar.   This could be tricky because he travels every weekend and weekdays he’s busy.   I’m his driver, wardrobe manager, errand woman, cook, confidant, cheerleader and he doesn’t let me off duty until he goes to sleep and weekends are required too.  My break is when my employer is happy and busy.  That’s my first job. 

In my second job, I manage an elderly couple who have multiple and complex needs.  One is intoxicated every day, and the other has gambling and spending issues.  They have an adult daughter who lives with them and I constantly work to stay ahead of her next scheme of stealing from those clients.  I manage and handle their finances, medical treatment, insurance, bills, coordinate all housing needs which includes shopping, house upkeep and I work very closely with many local agencies which includes Adult Protective Services.  I manage all aspects of the client’s credit cards which includes constant monitoring of spending and negotiating balances each month.  Recently, I planned and coordinated funeral arrangements and services for one of the couple. 

My other primary focus is managing an individual who lives a distance from my residence to make sure all of his needs are met which includes daily life, since he’s constantly on the go and traveling.  He’s not demanding, but I try to ease his load by handling all aspects of his financial and personal needs.  Like a job of an executive assistant.   Both of the two listed jobs I do from a two hour distance which in itself is a logistical nightmare.   Oh, the pay, zero, zilch, nothing, nada, just a lot of positive feedback, job evaluations and many hugs.  Doesn’t that sound like the perfect job for me?”

“Wow mom, what an exciting job you have.  I’m glad you have another one besides taking care of me.  I’m so happy for you!” says Brandon.  My client, is an honor roll student, a model in different arenas, an athlete, actor in school plays, and a budding artist.  But, most importantly, Brandon gives 100% all the time, never says an ill word about others, rarely complains, thoughtful, brings joy, a friend to the unloved and he brings out the best in others. And, he has no idea how much work goes into having a child in an inclusive middle school setting.  Me on the other hand, I’m a daughter in law, daughter, sister, wife, friend, unemployed and my son’s mother.  Oh, did I mention he has Down syndrome?  It’s a whole other ballgame.

Who says stay at home moms aren’t working.  It’s quite a job.  Next year when he goes to high school, I’m either looking for a “Real PAID Job”, a promotion to “Chairman of the Board” or I’m quitting!

 

Teresa Gruber

“Aspire to Inspire Before You Expire”

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