Excerpted from Minding the Caregiver, A Memoir, ©Mayra Porrata, 2021
I grew up during a time when we trusted that going to college and working hard was a secure pathway to living a good and comfortable life. If you got in with a ‘good company’ your life was set.
I followed such a path and worked 2-3 jobs during college. I worked in banking, first in the branches, as a teller, and later in the trust division where big chunks of money and accounts were traded and invested with ease.
Then, in 1991 I landed an entry-level position in the financial services industry, at a then Fortune 50 company. Within 8 months, my role morphed into a number of consecutive million-dollar project-based assignments that not only resulted in generous increases in my salary, but life-long friends, along with powerful lessons that still inform me today. I would not trade a thing about these formative career years.
My decision to leave the ‘gravy train’, as a colleague once referred to it, was not only met with bewilderment, but with great resistance, in part, because I left my lovely corporate job when I was 4 months pregnant with my first daughter.
For some ‘crazy and unexplained’ reason (which I would come to understand 6 years later), I knew that I had to make motherhood my #1 job and priority but also do something ‘on the side’ to bring income into the household because ‘unless I was bringing in money, I was somehow ‘costing the household.’
Although I could not fully understand nor explain the reasons why this sentiment did not sit well with me, afterall, I was raised by a stay-at-home mom who was lovingly supported by my father until his death in 2014, I have since come full-circle to see the absolute lie of that statement, and 9 others I call ’10 economic myths’:
MYTH: Only people with ‘paying jobs’ contribute to the economy.
MYTH: The stock market is the economy.
MYTH: Our country’s health is best gauged by how well the stock-market is doing.
MYTH: Being a mother/parent is not a ‘real job.’
MYTH: Being a caregiver is a choice.
MYTH: If you have a Master’s degree you should be making $100K a year.
MYTH: Public banking is a newfangled idea by ‘liberals’.
MYTH: Our leaders and decision-makers are trained in economics.
MYTH: Your credit score determines your value and worthiness in the community and society.
MYTH: Having health insurance protects and ‘insures’ your health.
Admittedly, I once believed all these to be true, but one by one, each delusion was dissolved by my lived experience and the reality of life itself.
Now that I know better, I can do better.