Elena’s eyes lit up with a smile every time her two daughters burst through the door of Sanchini, the ladies’ clothing shop she helps run in Urbino. The scene was hardly imaginable a few years ago when she was caught up in the world of a busy young pharmacist.
“I loved my job as a pharmacist and I felt very independent,” she said in retrospect raising dark eyebrows that complement her short black hair. “But I hardly saw my child and I could not allow that to happen.” She shrugged her angular shoulders as she leaned against the sales counter in Sanchini.
Italian women, like those in many countries, often feel forced to choose between raising a family and pursuing careers. Elena, who chose not to reveal her last name, is one of those stories.
In 1977, when she was 19 years old, Elena began the rigorous studies program in pharmacy, a career she had always had a passion for. At 24 she was a certified pharmacist commuting from her home town in Urbino, Italy, to work in Cagallo a half-hour drive away. There were no opportunities for pharmacists in Urbino and she knew this before she made the decision to become one.
A year later, at 25, she got married. In 1986 she gave birth to Giorgia. It was then that her daily commute and lengthy work hours became an issue.
She resigned from her job in Cagallo and started working in Sanchini the same year Giorgia was born.
The business has been in her family for more than half a century. Although she did not study management, she loves what she does. In 1992 her second daughter, Chiara, was born.
“I enjoy the relationships I formed with my customers in both jobs,” said Elena with a relaxed certainty. “Here I have been able to build a relationship with my children.”
Her daughters used to play around the store after school and when there was a break between sales she would engage them in friendly chatter.
According to Elena, children are her first priority. She says it is solely a matter of her innate qualities.
“Like all animals it is in my nature to protect my children and to attend to them,” she said “They are flesh from my flesh and thus they are part of my DNA.”
Elena has been presented with others challenges in her life. In 2005 her marriage ended in divorce. Today she still has her children’s drawings on the walls of her store although they are 17 and 22 years old.
“Situations are presented to me and I have no choice but to accept,” she said, smiling. “I do not regret any choices I have made.
“The result of compromise is happiness,” she added. “It forces you to find the happy medium.”