Last night I got all cozy in bed and suddenly heard one of my older daughters in the hallway. It was not late so I called out, "Hey. Just thinking about you. Glad you're home." Dinner with friends. Early night. She came into my bedroom and commented on her younger sister being awake and I said,
"Hey, come in here and rub my feet." My older girl who hates to touch feet offers, "I can rub your feet." Really! Yippee! I could not get them out from the covers fast enough. I love a good foot rub after a long day. As she massaged, she talked about her day and her night and related a story about seeing a girl she graduated from high school with at the restaurant last night. The girls asked her what she was up to and she said, "Work." "And where are you working?" Turns out, she's an event planner and her job sounds really cool and my daughter could not imagine why she didn't just offer the info on the front end. We laughed and she said, "Hey it's not like she works for her mom or something. When she asked what I was doing I told her that I am coaching high school volleyball and working at the bookstore for my mom and my dad." Again, we just laughed. The conversation ended and so did the foot massage.
While getting my hair cut this morning, it dawned on me...Hey! Wait a minute! I work for my mom! Is there something wrong with that?
Thirty-five years ago, my mom bought St. Mary's Bookstore from the Diocese of Nashville and soon after I started working with her while going to Vanderbilt/Peabody and getting my teaching degree. The entire time I worked at the store, when asked, I would say, "Oh I'm just doing this until I get a teaching job or until I can open my own gift shop." Ya know, not wanting any of my friends to think that I would work for my mom or for Jesus my whole life. After graduating, I did go back to our high school, St. Cecilia Academy, much like my daughter, and coached and taught P.E. and yet continued to work at the bookstore. Hmmm...much like my daughter.
For almost thirty-five years, I have worked in my mother's bookstore. She has moved the store from a two room building off Harvey's Dept. Store in downtown Nashville to a 4-story, once apartment building, just out from downtown, a block from the Cathedral. She has maintained her goal of having "something for everyone" and keeping the store "beautiful", honoring the very One whose Word she spreads. Her goal has always been to bring others to Christ whether through example, by word and deed, or by providing something that could serve to change a life, such as a book or one of the wonderful sacramentals of the church that remind us to stay close to Christ through prayer and the sacraments.
People ask me all the time, "What are you doing now?" "I'm still at the Bookstore." And ya know, it's good. I want to be there. I want to continue the work. Granted, I'm nothing like my mom. I am much rougher around the edges, not near as kind (the salesmen seem to love to take a jab at that when the occasion arises), and just not as humble and sweet. But, we make it all work. I love what I do and let me just tell ya, working with family (or should I say family working with me) is not easy. As a matter of fact, anyone who works with me should gain a ticket to Heaven just for the time they've put in here. Think about it. You work all day and go home together and over dinner remember that something was left undone and you blurt it out while cutting your pork chop and suddenly the rest of the day churns into a full conversation and despite trying not to, work is brought home and sitting with you and your kids at the supper table. Now there may be something or everything that wasn't handled the way one of you thought it should be and you become a little miffed. So, through the years you try really hard not to bring up work at every family event, but it's not easy. It has become a part of your lives. But the more we work together, the more we understand one another, the more we know how to choose between the good stuff to talk about at home and the hard stuff to talk about at work.
So, working for your mother... Yes. I am still working for my mother and I love every minute of it. I work with my husband and my mother and my sister and my sister-in-law's sister and my second daughter and for the summer, my third daughter and her friends and sometimes even my youngest daughter. My son will help with work on the website as he did last year, I'm sure. Together we have a Family Business. Together we work on the business of Jesus. Together, as in the beginning, we work to bring others closer to Christ, to offer something for everyone and to help to build up the city of God. I hope so anyway.
And, the answer is...there is nothing wrong with that.