We’re all discovering a new normal, and for the mothers of school-aged children, the new normal is becoming more complex with our children returning to school. As women, we wear many hats in our lives. We’re are wives, mothers, sisters, friends, daughters, colleagues, and leaders. Now, many of us are adding the role of teacher assistants.
Former tenure professor from Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Ann Creighton-Zollar, shares a love letter to you, from her– to remind you that in the midst of life’s uncertainties, constant change, and unexpected blows, you are indeed a warrior ready to conquer the world.
Here is a #SelfLoveConversation from her that may speak to you.
When I look in the mirror, I see the scars on my face. They remind me that I am a survivor. When I was about 21 years old, I became very ill. I was diagnosed with lupus erythematosus and when exposed to sunlight my skin developed lesions that formed scars. My physicians told me that I could not have a second child, finish a BA, or ever hold down a full-time job.
They actually predicted that I would be dead within 10 years. They told me that I should not expect to live long enough to see my infant son reach adulthood. My second child now has a second child who is eight years old. My son is a middle-aged Brigadier General with adult children of his own. I think raising my children to adulthood as the single accomplishment of which I am most proud.
Of course, I did finish that BA, then an MA, and PhD in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1980. I am now retired: a member of the Emeritus Faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University. For 30 years at VCU, I was jointly appointed in sociology and African American Studies – that means I did lot of extra service work for less pay at the expense of my own research agenda. It was more than a full-time job.
I am proud of the role I played in helping to change the VCU Afro-American studies program offering a minor to the degree granting African American Studies Department. I carried out my work while battling one chronic illness after another. I battled painful birth defects in my spine and kidney. I battle multiple autoimmune diagnoses, and oh so many surgeries.
I overcame racial prejudice and discrimination as well as the prejudices that healthy people have of those who were not born with good health and supportive families. One of the funniest recent examples comes from a woman who calls herself my friend. According to her I have an “intuitive feel” for working with computers while she does not. The truth is that I was physically disabled before there was an Americans with Disabilities Act. Developing computer skills allowed me to continue being employed when I was unable to walk.
I preferred teaching courses on comparative family systems and parenting. I preferred doing research on racial disparities in health, especially maternal and infant health. When I retired from the university, I earned another MS in Health and Nutrition Education. I keep trying to retire from that work too. But we are in the midst of a pandemic that is making racial inequities in health more visible and so I am still talking, if not writing.
I don’t believe that women should have an over-exaggerated sense of their accomplishments. But I also do not believe in negative self-talk. I would love to see women speak accurately and positively about themselves and other women.
I am no different from you, my beautiful sister. Beyond the judgment, expectations, doctor reports, and racial inequality- here I am. Standing.
So will you.
Dr. Ann Creighton-Zollar