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"Remember the time we had a cat brain in the refrigerator?"

Following in Mom's Footsteps

Some share a profession, some don't. Some meet for lunch, others rarely see each other. Whatever the case, mothers who share their workplace with a child can't conceal their pride.

The odds wouldn't have been in Mary Rose's favor. Like most girls in the 1960s, she married young and had a family quickly. Then she got divorced, her ex-husband died suddenly six months later, and she was a very single parent with three young children.

She conjured up an ingenious plan to survive. She talked her best friend, Claire, also a single mother, into buying a house directly across the street in Bel Air and then convinced Claire to go to nursing school with her.

After graduation, they got jobs on the same hospital unit, figuring they'd be assigned to opposite shifts and could watch each other's children. They were.
"I remember when she came home, she was so excited because she got a job at Johns Hopkins," says Rose's eldest daughter, Kim Meadowcroft. "It was a big deal. There was nothing above that."

"We hear this one all the time," says Rose's youngest, Dawn Luzetsky. "She and Aunt Claire are standing there in front of the dome with their arms locked and it's their first day of work. And Mom says, 'Darn, Claire, we're here. We made it!' That's a famous story."

It was 1974. Kim was 9, Dawn, 4, and their brother, Steven, 10.
Mary Rose went to work to support her family. She progressed from new nurse to head nurse to nurse manager (for Neuroscience for 18 years) to assistant director of medical nursing, a position she will have held for 10 years in October. "Aunt" Claire Roz is assistant director of psychiatric nursing.

As part of the work on her master's degree, Rose "dreamed up" the Professional Practice Model in 1981 as a way to retain her staff during a labor shortage. The idea behind it was that nurses would be treated like professionals. Everyone would be salaried, and they'd govern themselves on matters like scheduling and on-call. At its peak it was practiced on 25 units throughout Hopkins and presented at national nursing conferences.

"It saved us through several nursing shortages," Rose says dryly.
Rose's job had various effects on her children. At the age of 15, Kim was put in charge of the household. When her mother worked the night shift, she was responsible for her younger sister.

She remembers the Christmas her mother had to work and she and her brother had to take on the holiday themselves-wrapping each other's presents and cooking dinner. They had Christmas at 6 o'clock in the evening that year, once their mother got home from work, exhausted.

"That's the year I stopped believing in Santa Claus," recalls Dawn, "I could hear them taking the toys down from the attic."

There were no homemade cupcakes to bring to school on their birthdays, no field trips where Mom was a chaperone. In high school, the girls were limited to one extracurricular activity and only if they could get a ride home. Brother Steve worked after school to help pay tuition at John Carroll High School (which all three of them attended).

By the time she reached college, Kim admits, she felt like she'd already raised a family.
Yet Kim and Dawn, who now have families of their own and live two miles apart, have an abundance of happy memories about their childhood. Once they start reminiscing, they are breathless with laughter.

"Remember those index cards?" asks Dawn, who is now a nurse manager in pediatrics on CMSC 9. "What were they for-care plans? Remember the time we had a cat brain in the refrigerator?"

"I took it to show and tell! Fifth grade!" says Kim, manager of human
resources in Oncology.

Inside the Rose household, there was the sort of discipline not often practiced in homes today. Rose, the eldest of seven children, taught her children that life was often not negotiable.

"Her philosophy was, You're given your cards and you have to play them," says Dawn. "We were taught very valuable things, like how to work with people, and how to find our way."

"She gave a lot of responsibility, but she also gave a lot of rewards," says Kim. "She was very good at balancing that."

Rose always thought her eldest daughter would become a lawyer, and Kim did do some paralegal work (after getting a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland). But after taking a year off after the birth of her first child, she interviewed for Hopkins' newly opened Green Spring Station and got a job as a staff assistant for human resources for Oncology. Afterwards, she had to ask her mother what "oncology" meant.

Dawn was always interested in medicine, recalls Rose. She brought her mother to class to give a talk on the circulatory system. When she was 9 or 10, she came to Hopkins with her mother on weekends out of necessity and passed out water pitchers. At Towson State, she started out in physical therapy, took a brief detour into health sciences, and ended up, at her mother's urging, as a nurse. Rose's youngest child has worked here half as long as her mother-14 years-and was promoted to nurse manager five months ago.

For Mary Rose's daughters, pride has two faces. They couldn't be more proud of their mother's accomplishments; and they are too proud to let their mother use her influence to help them at work.

"I didn't want anyone to know she was my mother," says Kim, remembering the time she first interviewed at Hopkins. "I didn't want to appear to be riding on her coattails. If I got somewhere, I wanted it to be on my own hard work. And, if I screwed up, she wasn't gonna get egg on her face."

Dawn tells a similar tale. While interviewing in pediatrics, she was asked if she'd ever heard of the Professional Practice Model. She refused to mention that Mary Rose was her mother.

"Trust me," she retorted instead. "I have grown up with this concept."
The weekend after Mother's Day will be an especially proud one for Mary Rose. Kim and Dawn will receive their master's degrees, one day apart, Kim in applied behavioral science and Dawn in nursing administration.

"I have full respect for my mother," says Dawn. "She did that all alone. She raised three kids, she managed a house on three-quarters of an acre, we always had vacations, she allowed us to go to a private high school, we all had opportunities to go to college, we had very nice weddings, and she did a fantastic job.
"I just don't know how in the world she did it."

-Mary Ellen Miller

 

 

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