When I was 25 years old, I took a job working as an accounting manager for a woman named Margie.
Margie was my boss when I was learning who I was. She was my boss as I flexed new mental and emotional muscles. She was my boss as I learned how to stand up for myself, have a voice, and do what is right for myself and the team. She was my boss as I wandered through incorrect, even childish, responses to correct feelings. She was my boss as I navigated through the waters of an oppressive religious upbringing and fear of leaving what was familiar…with all the love and kindness her heart could manage.
She lived in Thousand Oaks and I lived in Albuquerque. The majority of our boss/employee relationship was held over the phone. I would call to discuss the problem. She would give me feedback and explain what she thought I should do next. I would call and spit out frustrations and fear that I couldn’t get the work done correctly or in time. And she would reassure. I would call just to tell her a funny story about our coworkers. She would always make time and laugh.
Despite the fact that I must have driven her crazy from time to time, I do not ever remember feeling reprimanded or humiliated by our conversations. She was kind. She was gentle. She was easy with me and my tumultuous nature. She gave me so much room to be myself. To be young. To be arrogant. To be naive.
And when I decided to take another job within the company, she cheered me on. Despite the fact that it would make her job harder, she pushed me to do the best thing for me.
When I would travel to California, Margie would invite me over for dinner. We would drink good wine, eat delicious cheese, and sit in her beautiful garden. Sometimes I would spend the night and those times were so sweet to me. We would talk about our mothers and our sisters. She listened to story after story as I unpacked my chaotic and sometimes abusive childhood. I’d unpack. She’d help me repack, always leaving behind some article or piece of the story that I no longer needed to carry.
She would tell me that I was lovable. That my parents were lucky to have such a daughter. That I’d deserved better.
And she would tell me of her own fears that she’d not done enough to show her children they were loved…even though by all accounts she’d spent their lives doing just that in a variety of ways that made them love her and themselves in deep and meaningful ways.
Margie mothered me when I was too prickly to accept mothering from anyone. She did it in a way that taught me dignity, pride, and humility. She cared for me as a mentor, boss, friend, and woman in ways that taught me that I could be all of those things to other women too. And I have. Each young woman that I have loved and mentored has been the recipient of the love and mentoring I received from this beautiful, smart, kind, warm, and fiery woman who showed me the way to do it.
Today is her birthday…and for her birth and her life I am so very grateful!