“Mom, Dad, it’s raining in the kitchen.”

That’s not how any parent wants to be awakened, but there was my brother, Adam, at 1:00 a.m., standing in our parent’s room after our 1928 fixer-upper house, still in the middle of renovation, burst a pipe above the kitchen.

I thought my parents were crazy for taking us out of our nice, clean 1988 spec house and moving us to a place with “charm.” I was sixteen-years-old, and the charm of the old house with only one working bathroom was lost on me. But I watched as my parents tirelessly restored that old house. I watched my mom tediously remove old paint off the trim and doors and discover beautiful old woodwork waiting to be uncovered and displayed. It was a huge undertaking and in the end, my parents had a masterfully restored old house that we were all so incredibly proud of.

That’s why I was not at all surprised when, in 2005, my mom, Laureen Skrivan, announced that at the age of forty-six she was going back to school to study Interior Design.

Laureen with her father, George, circa 1961

Design was her gift. I remember, even when we were little children, how much attention she gave to ensuring that our home was a home that we could be proud to live in. Even that 1988 spec house we lived in for ten years was outstanding thanks to my mother’s hard work to make it beautiful. She never let boring or boxy or unimpressive be an excuse not to make her home lovely. I can even remember my school friends coming over and commenting on how beautiful my house was and that my mom had “such great taste.”

Laureen practicing talking to clients, circa 1962

Knowing her gifts in this area, my parents’ friends and family commissioned my mom to help them redecorate or redesign their homes. She loved to study design and renovation. I vividly remember coming home after school and seeing her pour over architectural and design books. I knew she could walk other families through the process of redesigning and remodeling and that they would be in good hands because she knew first-hand the joys and sorrows of home renovation.

My mom took the time to raise us well. We always had a home-cooked meal and good quality time as a family. She listened to us, gave advice, and laughed with us. She was, and is, a great mom, and in 2005, when I was a newlywed and my youngest brother was a senior in high school, she took the dream that she had always had to be an Interior Designer and went back to school.

Even at twenty-three, I was inspired by that. I had seen other women in their late forties struggling with their identities. It seemed that once their children moved out, women didn’t know what else to do, and that scared me about getting older. But I was proud of my mom for pursuing the dream she had always had and watched her make it a reality.