I was 9 when my mother and I last worked for the same boss. I was a paperboy for the Winona Daily News and my mother wrote a weekly column called “Whimsey.” She shared observations on life in a small town, being the wife of a pastor and mother of 6 children. Her quips then included thoughts on the topics of marriage, work and school.
Marriage: “Marriage is when you are whistled for instead of at.” Work: “Remember when only heaven protected the working girl? Now it takes a union, the minimum wage law, unemployment insurance, social security and a retirement plan.” School: Our first-grader recently brought home her six weeks report card highly satisfactory in the traditional 3 Rs. Her personality traits chart was labeled ‘slightly immature.” It gives pause to reflect: When did it suddenly become a sin for a 6-year-old to act like a child? And what harried mother wouldn’t add a fervent “Amen!” to her suggestion that “Someone ought to invent a new vitamin, for children. It could include Vitamins B-l, B-2 and B-Quiet.”
She lasted a lot longer in her position than I did mine. I went on to university and a several careers. She carried on with the paper for more than a decade. Even though at nine the comic section of the paper got my full attention, I did read her column to see if I or my siblings had managed to say something funny. Her readers aged from under 10 to over 80. Her wisdom, so common place for us, was enjoyed by many.
What is it like to work with your mother and daughter? In a word, fun. When my eldest daughter and I were first playing “Tiny Frog Strategies,” Julia mentioned a newsletter and said,
“We need content. What have you got?”
I said the best writer I know may be able to help us. My mother listened to our plea as she did to all her children and grandchildren’s requests: thoughtfully, with respect and consideration and said,
“What? Oh no, what would I have to say about wills, bequests and legacies? …Well maybe I could write a bit and you could add in the technical part. And you have to promise me that you will tell me if this isn’t working.”
Well it did work. It was fun to write next to my mother and for my daughter Julia, the president and CEO of Tiny Frog Strategies.
It also is a challenging to work with your mother and daughter. Just trying to keep up with them and get in some fishing, motorcycle travel and gardening meant I had to play a lot of catch up.
“Yes”, I said on several occasions, “I can work with that…” “Oh, I have that written in my head…” “Is it my turn again???”
It is also an education. When did my daughter and mother get to be that smart and such good writers? Yes, I had written before and been published but these two were naturals. Their many edits of capitalization, agreement of tenses and all the commas I usually throw in, all of which made even what I wrote readable.
But most of all working with my mother and daughter meant I got to live a legacy. I learned how to read and write from my mother. I tried passing on reading, math and science to all my children but Julia learned to love reading and writing – a legacy the three of us share.