My dad was stationed in Japan during the Vietnam War. After coming out of the Army he worked for the same pharmaceutical company for 40 years. Yes, 40 years! He started in the mail room, was soon promoted to maintenance and then made his way up to Associate Director of Research Facilities by his retirement in 2005 at the age of 60.
My mom left her teaching job to stay at home to do the hardest job of them all, raise us – all of us, four of us, all within five years! A job that was thankless, payless, selfless and both physically and emotionally exhausting. But she did it because she and my dad felt that it was the right thing to do for our family. And I agree that it was! My mom eventually went back to teach in an elementary school for 30 more years. She retired with my dad at the same time, also at the age of 60.
Despite having three siblings, I never felt like I was just one of four. My dad coached us all in softball and baseball. He left his corporate job early to make it to my lacrosse games, hockey games and track meets. My mom was often the team mother or volunteering to serve food in the snack bar. She ran us around to practice for every sport under the sun. In addition she took us to choir, school shows, and Sunday School every Sunday until we were confirmed as teenagers. My parents even made it to Friday night lights to watch me cheerlead. There were four of us, and they did it for ALL FOUR OF US.
Our weekends were filled with sports, barbeques, friends and family visiting, more sports, playing with the neighborhood kids, pool parties and trips to Gram’s and Pop-Pop’s house. I can’t think of a better childhood!
As parents, their work was never done and I am sure there were times they weren’t sure if we were on the right path. I’m sure there were questions, lots of them, such as:
- Would we make the right choices?
- Would we be respectful and say thank you even when they weren’t around?
- Would we work hard when no one was looking over our shoulders?
- Would we treat others kindly?
My mom taught me discipline, respect, manners, follow through, all while making me feel that I was important and an individual.
My dad taught me determination, goal setting, focus, hard work and that I could accomplish anything I wanted to if I put my mind to it.
What a gift to be able to put this in writing and to recognize exactly the impact my parents made on me. Their influences have and always will greatly impact both my personal and professional life. Thanks Mom and Dad, you were always right (eye roll)!!
I’ll leave you with my favorite phrases from my parents:
- Quitters never win and winners never quit!
- Two wrongs don’t make a right.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Tag up.
- Keep your eyes on the ball.
- Run through the base.
- Call the play.
- Always say, “Please” and “Thank you”!! (My mom added the explanation marks on this one, two of them).
About the Author
For more than 15 years Kelly Robinson Jensen has provided recruiting services in a broad range of sectors. As Xelerate LLC’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Customer Officer, simply put, her time is focused on her team and her clients. Kelly sits on multiple Boards and committees and is a member of a handful of national organizations. She is the winner of the 2015 SmartCEO Executive Award and actively participates in various local foundations focused on kids, health and economic empowerment. Additionally, Kelly fills the roles of wife, mother and Aunt to 14 nieces and nephews.