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Rule 8: Never Give Up

Aug 9, 2008
Susan Guerrero, is a parent and educator and has written several plays concerning women's issues and been a contributor and editor for Poets for Peace and Words of Women.

As a single working mother, I am responsible for 501 children. Four of them I gave birth to: triplet daughters and a son. By all rights I should live in a shoe except that unlike the old woman who did, I know exactly what to do. As an elementary school principal, and a parent, I love every child I work with like they are my own. I never give up on learning how to serve them and the community better. In fact I make it a rule never to give up on anything, especially myself.

Years ago as a young married woman wanting to start a family, I was told I would never have a child. Initially my doctor was right. Instead I had three. Three months after the girls were born I was getting a divorce and facing the reality of having no husband, no job and no prospects. I had to go on welfare and was constantly told, "You will never amount to anything."

My choice was to either get lost in the social welfare system or to fight to redefine it. I decided not to give up. I figured that as someone who could breast feed two babies at a time while also alternating a third, I had multi-tasking skills that could be utilized to my advantage. I also had an extended family that loved and supported me, and a community that embraced my children and I as their own special project. This was important to me then and remains vital to me now. Who I am as a both a parent and a professional educator resulted from the things I experienced. My experiences taught me that there are always choices and possible solutions, but you won't find them if you give up.

It was humiliating to be on welfare. At every turn there were many people who made sure to verbally insult and judge me. Former friends, acquaintances, even professors at the college I attended questioned the choices I made as a parent. "Why are you leaving your children to go to class?" "Shouldn't you be working?" "Why did you bring these children to class?" "Shouldn't you be at home?" "You should quit."

On the other hand I also met people who encouraged and assisted me, guiding me toward programs to help me stay in college and pay for it. One of these people, Pam, was an amazing woman I met through the "Mothers of Twins." Pam, an African American mother of triplets, was also on welfare. She had triplet babies almost the same age as my daughters, as well as an older child. Pam didn't have the kind of support I did from family and neighbors, yet she would not give up. Her tenacity inspired mine. Her mantra was "I will succeed."

The day I succeeded in graduating from college my toddler daughters stood on the hill of the stadium with a sign that read: "We're proud of our graduate mommy." It's a memory they often refer to when sharing their doubts about their own education or life choices. Education was important to me then, and so it remains the center of my life even after 20 years as an educator. Everyday, I know in the deepest part of myself that women, especially mothers, must never give up on themselves in order to be there for their children. Whether our work is in our homes, our communities or a place of business we need to continually develop ourselves without fail.

This June, I will be standing with my son holding signs for my daughters who are graduating from college. Their signs will read "Never Give Up!"

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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