Women Can. Women Do. Women Shouldn’t Have To.

Women #getthingsdone. Immigrants #getthingsdone. But just because they can – should they?

On this International Women’s Day, I want to honour my mother. (Because I don’t do it enough on Mother’s Day or any other day, to be honest.)

My mom is not much bigger than me, but she has big impact.

I was born in Hong Kong, where maternity leave is almost non-existent by Canadian standards. My mom went back to her executive HR job after about 6 weeks. They didn’t have daycare, my parents had to find a babysitter for me while they both worked.

After they immigrated to Canada, my mom stayed at home to raise me until I was about 7, then she went back to work full-time as a bookkeeper/accountant, after earning a certificate through night school. I remember getting up at the crack of dawn (so it felt) and eating breakfast in the car while my mom drove me to the Morning Program at school, so she could make it on time to work. Then I stayed for the After School Program to wait for my mom to pick me up after work.

Later on, my mom got a part-time job closer to home, working five days a week but at slightly reduced hours, so she could get home at a reasonable time. She worked at a large medical company as an Accounts Payable Clerk, eventually becoming a Senior A/P Clerk through her hard work and competence. Her job position wasn’t very high, especially considering her executive work experience in Hong Kong. But she was highly respected and liked by all her colleagues. I know this first-hand because I worked there during my high school summer breaks, as a data entry clerk and general admin helper. I usually wasn’t in the same department as my mom, but wherever I was, everyone had only good things to say about her. (And I don’t think it was just because I was her daughter.) I remember eating lunch with her and the rest of the accounting team; they were really good friends and laughed a lot. I know she’s still friends with those colleagues to this day.

Another distinct memory I have, is how much extra work my mom put in. This was in the late 1980’s, so technology was very rudimentary. Any of you remember these ancient artifacts? Dot matrix printers. Printed cheques. DOS-based computers. Fax machines!