Being a working mother is one of most challenging choices a woman can make. And every once in a while, when the myriad of responsibilities we’re juggling over our heads comes crashing down, we become disheartened. Can we ever truly accomplish all that our chosen lifestyle demands?
That’s why it's always encouraging to hear about other working moms who successfully navigate this tricky road.
The profile I'd like to share with you all today is about a working mother who did just that: Margot Van Riper, a woman who up until four years ago was in dire financial straits and suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Both these circumstances were brought about by her emotional state after her divorce.
Margot says, “I was so broke, I’d make my daughter school lunch and put water with food coloring in it in her thermos. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed by the other children knowing we were too poor to afford juice.”
Margot’s hardship began with what she asserts were the only two unfortunate choices she made as a young woman. “With all the potential I had to study something that would afford me financial independence, I chose archaeology because it was wildly interesting, but I had few opportunities in that field. Immediately after, I met my husband, a man who was destined to be a philanderer.”
They married and opened an Italian restaurant together at the same time that they bought a "fixer-upper" house. From the beginning, Margot took on more than her fair share of work. “Whatever needed to be done at that restaurant, I did it, anything from making salads, to washing dishes, to rewiring the indoor lighting system.”
A runner since high school, Margot qualified for the Olympics shortly after she and her husband married, but this was another opportunity missed when she discovered she was pregnant.
“I kept our newborn daughter in a baby carrier on my back as I worked in the restaurant and repaired fencing outside our home. The baby was happy spending so much time with me, but I was notorious for banging myself up while working on home projects. My daughter’s first word was the word she heard me say every time I hit my thumb with a hammer!”
When asked where her husband was while she took care of their restaurant, their home and their baby, she said, “He liked to watch Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
Eventually, Margot tired of her husband’s ineffectiveness. “But I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted to find something that my husband could excel at, because I thought this would be a way for me to gain back respect for him.”
She chose a unique method for achieving this objective. “One day, I passed by a music school and I could hear a group of musicians playing African drums. The sounds called to me in a way I can’t describe. I went inside and listened to the session. When it was over, I signed up for lessons for my husband and me.”