Today’s guest post comes from Elissa East, who describes herself this way: “I am a lifelong member of the Church from Australia. Born in Perth and now living in Canberra, I have always lived in small branches or wards. I served a full-time mission in Sydney, Australia after which I met a wonderful man whom I married in the temple, and now have with 3 children and work full-time as a Business Manager at my children’s school. My favourite calling is teaching early morning seminary. I love to sew, cook, watch Dr Who, and read.”
I loved Economics in high school. The numbers and the way they all worked were like music to me. I will always remember though the day I proved my teacher wrong. He was trying to prove that anything worth doing has a monetary value attached. He asked us to raise put hands if we could think of one job we would want to do that you did not get paid for. I was the only person that raised their hand “A mother,” I volunteered. He was stumped – it was the first time anyone had ever got him on that question.
After high school I was accepted into Business at university but was not able to afford it so I got myself a job in a bank instead. I loved my job and working with all of those numbers. I worked my way through up the corporate banking ladder. I took some time off for a mission and then continued to climb that corporate ladder on my return 18 months later. As I climbed the ladder I met and fell in love with my future husband. After marriage there were health issues that prevented pregnancy so I continued up that ladder again. Most people presumed I was a career woman and not interested in a family – but they were wrong – it was all I wanted. By the time I was in commercial finance – handling large commercial lending transactions – I realised that everyone the same age as me that I worked with had that degree I had always wanted – and it had not got them any further ahead of me.
It was at this point I finally fell pregnant. I was overjoyed. As I shared my excitement, my work colleagues all said I would not last as a stay-at-home mum. They said I would be back as I would miss the excitement of work too much. I loved proving them wrong.
But money was tight – I could have gone to work and earnt a lot more money but instead I took in ironing that I did at night while my baby slept. As my family grew so did my ironing job.
I then got introduced to party planning and I did very well. I would tuck my kids into bed, leave Dad in charge and then head out to another party. The money (and a car) came in and I was thrilled, I was getting recognition, money and having fun. As my business grew my children grew up – soon my kids weren’t in bed when I left, I was walking out the door when they needed help with home work and reading. It broke my heart to leave them – so I left my business (and handed back the car) instead.
Once they were all in school, I picked up part-time job, only working during school hours. This worked well and I loved the job but as the children continued to grow so did our expenses. I soon realised I needed full-time work to cover the bills. This was the hardest choice – I didn’t want to take away from my time with my children and they hated their brief stints in after school programs. How could I work full-time and still be there for them? Then Heavenly Father opened a window for me. He opened up a job for me at my children’s school – doing the school’s finances.
I go in to work early (straight after family scripture study) and my husband packs the kids’ lunches and drives them to school, starting late at his workplace. I then finish early and take the kids home. I never miss an assembly – I know all of their teachers and everything that happens to them at school. I am home for their homework and to chat after school and cook a home cooked dinner. I love balancing the finances of the school and the challenge that comes with it (and the way the numbers are like music to me still) but it is not where I get most of my happiness and sense of accomplishment from.
I never had the career in economics and finance that I dreamed about when I was in high school – but I proved my Economics teacher wrong – there is something you can do that brings satisfaction and you don’t get paid for. Motherhood.