I am full of appreciation these days and I feel compelled to sing from the rooftops!
When I pulled manufacturing of The Pearl Girls jewelry from overseas and committed to creating jobs for women in our community, I dreamed of what a flexible workplace might look like. What if women had jobs that benefitted from their love and passion and what if that job, in returned, allowed them the freedom to care for their families as needed. In this world of leaning in, I wonder if the answer is actually not adapting to the world of men but instead creating a different world where the strengths of women can shine. I am not sure anyone can doubt the power of women. We are amazingly powerful people who can give so much love and care to so many. We are efficient multi-tasters who keep families running and many of us do this while being a breadwinner, too. Instead of creating more work and stress for women, what if I could create an environment that supported women and our many and varied talents? I thought, what if I created a job which said, “Hey, you need to take off time to care for your family? Go for it! We will be here when you get back!” The beauty of visions and creations…
But, how does that work when I am the one who needs the time off? I truthfully never factored myself into that equation. In fact, I thought, I will burn the midnight oil while the women who work with me take time to care for their loved ones. But that has changed and I am the one who has withdrawn.
I remember so clearly the conversation with my son’s teacher. It was on Thursday, a week before Thanksgiving Day. I went in for the twice yearly conference and she showed me his work. Jack is a super emotional child and pretty stressed by school in general. I had almost moved him at the end of last year but the school administrators encouraged us to stay and give it another year. I thought things were going well, I thought we had made the right decision. “So,” the teacher told me, “it looks like Jack will have to repeat kindergarten.” “What?” “Yes, he is really not reading up to the level we need him to for first grade so I will keep him in this class next year.” I left, stunned. Getting home I called the principal and requested a meeting. The very next day I got the opportunity to visit the class and I realized that, even though we had six months in the school year, I saw no clear path to pull Jack ahead before the end of the year. Unless he was going to teach himself how to read within the classroom, it wasn’t going to happen. **yes, yes, I know I could work with him at home but I know within the classroom setting, reading wasn’t going to happen…**
After speaking with the principal, I decided to request a different class for the second semester. My younger son was thriving with his teacher so I wondered if maybe a different connection with a different teacher might spur things along. The school refused to move him and I felt there was nothing else to do but withdraw Jack from the school. I told everyone at work to give me the first two weeks of January to find Jack a school and then I would be back to work. The problem was, I couldn’t find a home for Jack that I wasn’t convinced wouldn’t overload him with stress. My husband told me to work with him at home while we searched and in those two weeks I saw Jack in transformation. His confidence soared, his emotions eased. He became happier. And in those weeks I realized Jack’s home was with me. So, I decided to homeschool and he has been thriving since. Yes, he struggles with reading and yes, I struggle with this new situation but as a whole we are all so much happier and more at peace in this situation. And yet, I own a business….
Who knew that when I dreamed of creating a business that supported women and our many responsibilities, that I would be the one asking for help. And do you know what answer I have gotten? “We have got this, India!” Patti Ann has stepped up, Abby has stepped up, Dana has stepped up. These women have my back. They are encouraging me and supporting me and understanding that a week might go by when they do not see me at work. And everything is okay. In fact, everything is amazingly beautiful. This is what I want for myself and for every other woman: the support of our communities. This is homeschool and the art of appreciation.
I am not sure the homeschool path will be a forever one for me. I want to always honor these kids and what they need. I also want to honor the women I work with and the thousands of Pearl Girls customers because I do believe we are one big community. And, maybe we all have similar goals… to show our love to the people we love. And to show our love to ourselves, too.
I am so, so full of gratitude for this path in my life. I am closer to my boys than I have ever been and I am so full of love for everyone in my life. Thank you, thank you, for understanding and supporting me right now.
Life is good.
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.