For many chunks of my life, my dad was out of the picture. I was raised by my mom with help from my grandmother (Nani).
For a brief period of time, we had no place to live. We had lost our home. I remember sleeping on a concrete floor with my mom and sister, somewhere. It was a very hard time. After some time, we moved into a tiny little rental.
In the daytime, my mom was a teacher. She also ran a daycare before and after school. At night and on weekends she taught art classes and cleaned houses. These were things she did to make ends meet.
Often, we tagged along on her side jobs and assisted her as best we could. It was work but it was also precious time we got to spend with her.
I also learned to ask if this was a ‘spending money day’ or a ‘saving money day’ in places like the grocery store. If it was a ‘spending money day’ we could get kinder eggs which was a big treat, or even Rollo ice cream.
When I was in grade two, after all the after-school care kids had been picked up and we had put away the toys, I remember asking her why other moms got to stay home and why we had to work so many jobs. She hugged me and told me sometimes we have to work towards the life we want.
My mom sat down with me at the kitchen table and pulled out a white envelope (we had an envelope system for paying our bills). She told me that this was where we were saving all our money so that we could one day buy “our house.” She said that all the hours we were working, and all the help and sharing my sister and I were doing, were building towards our own home – something that was ours.
Eventually, with the help of some real-life angels, we hit our goal and were able to put a down payment on a house. My mom told me that my sister and I could live there rent free until we were 100, because we had sacrificed as much as she had to achieve this dream.
I think about our yellow house, with the red door, all the time. What this experience taught me is that the concept of work life balance is a privileged one.
Sometimes, you have to work extremely hard for a long time before you see a shift in your circumstances.
This learning continues to serve our business well. Thanks, Mom!