Putting on my “marketing hat,” I recently was part of a meeting with our school district and other professionals as we reviewed a plan to create specific curriculum related to marketing, media and communication arts. As with many large group meetings, we started with introductions. I waited for my turn, thinking of how I should introduce myself as a now unemployed marketing professional. I settled on something like this:
Hi, I’m Cathy, marketing manager and also a Stay at Home Mom.
I may have said “marketing generalist” because I am a sort of jack of all trades marketer, especially in my last role at a small business, but I questioned on whether or not to say SAHM. I thought I saw some women in the room give me a knowing smile, as in they understood where I was as a mom and professional, and perhaps they were once in my same position.
While I know that staying at home does not diminish my credentials, I can’t help but feel less confident in professional settings. Self doubt creeps in, leading me to question, “Am I good enough for a seat at the table?” Yes, I have opted-out of full-time work right now, and in doing so have I set myself up for the mommy-track? When or will I ever work again?
All of this worrying spins out of control and puts me in a dark place. It’s really not productive or healthy for me to go down this path.
Who cares about titles? What do they even mean?!
I’ve held MANY titles in my career: Marketing Coordinator, Zone Manager, Marketing Specialist, Channel Marketing Manager, and Director of Marketing. And I’ve never been hung up on titles. I’ve been a focused, productive employee, happy to contribute to my team and company, and simply put: get things done! So why should I fixate on titles now?
More importantly, I do truly LOVE my title of Mom! My kids and family are my life’s greatest accomplishment that no work-related achievement could ever eclipse. Hearing little voices calling for me daily (sometimes hourly or more often, depending on the need), makes me feel so needed, important and loved (and yes, sometimes annoyed). Yes, I do have demanding, and adorable “direct reports,” and I definitely need to be hands-on with my four and almost six year old kids. Yet, I recognize how far we’ve come together as a family.
Reflecting on Motherhood
When I left work full-time three years ago, I wrote about why I miss work. Today when I reflect on that post, I see that many of my frustrations have been minimized in just a few years time. I have time to myself when my youngest is in pre-school, and I’ve enjoyed more adult interaction without having to contend with nap-time anymore. Plus, I’ve seen many of my kids’ milestones and accomplishments firsthand (most recently swimming and reading), so I know I am making a difference in their lives. Being a mom IS rewarding, especially with a longer term view!
I tend to have a hard time NOT having a plan or seeing a clear direction in my life. I wrote about this earlier in Mom GPS Re-calcuating. This time at home is truly a gift, and I want to be comfortable without a grand career plan…to simply “be” in the moment and embrace my life, SAHM title and all. I am doing my best to trust that God has placed me exactly where I should be right now and am trying to learn and grow through it all. To name a few lessons, I’ve learned to be more patient and spontaneous since having kids. I’ve learned to let go a bit more, control less, and relax. My mantra to myself has been “relax and enjoy” motherhood, or taking a cue from an awesome song I hear in my yoga class weekly:
New Titles? New Outlook
I was thinking of how I describe what I’m currently doing, and I often say, “I’m just staying at home right now,” but I need to take “just” out of that sentence. Motherhood encompasses so many roles that I need multiple titles to describe what I do all day:
- Chief Executive Officer of our home and family of four
- VP of Marketing & Public Relations – family spokesperson, social media manager, branding, crisis management, historian / archival specialist (through blogging and scrap booking)
- Head of Procurement – all purchases go through me or require my approval
- Co-Director of Finance – shared with my husband
- Accounting Clerk – shared with my husband with our split checking accounts
- Event Planner – certified in birthday parties, mealtime prep, play dates, date nights
- HR Professional – personal development, training, team building
- Health and Wellness Program coordinator – swim teacher, fitness instructor, meal planning and prep
- Facilities and Maintenance – laundry, housework, grounds crew
- Community Relations – volunteer, giving manager
This might be a bit long to go through in an introduction, but it IS another way of thinking of my job. I’m shaping the minds and hearts of children, people! This is a HUGE and an awesome responsibility!
A Better Outlook
Instead of thinking of how I’m viewed as a SAHM in a professional setting, I should focus more on the positives of my here and now. I feel more connected to my community than ever before, simply because I’m here more (vs. commuting and working in another city). I’m able to be part of my daughter’s school through volunteering. I have more time to help out at church. As a family, we have time to enjoy both breakfast and dinner together almost daily. I have time to workout and get enough sleep at night. It is a healthy, more relaxed pace of life. Given all of this, I am so very blessed to be in this position, trusting that I’ll read this post in a few years after God’s plan for me has unfolded more perfectly that I could have ever imagined.
Nice story. I love the idea of calling the kids your “direct reports”! But perhaps it’s more accurate to say the kids share one direct report… you! Haha.
Don’t worry about taking time away from work… you have a good number of years in at different types of companies, and you’ll be able to go back — or start something new — whenever the time is right.
Thanks Rebecca! You are so sweet!
I can relate to this post, not as a mom, but as what is referred to as a “trailing spouse” on the international circuit. After accepting this for 2 years, I had enough as I felt it diminished my accomplishments. I am a retired attorney. I have an active law license and I practiced law for 18 years, so I think I deserve the title. When people say I am young to be retired, I smile and agree!
YES – as we introduce ourselves, a title can say a lot, but still not tell our whole story. I love that you say retired attorney! Go Kerry! I follow another ex-pat / mom blog, and the trailing spouse DOES have challenges that the working spouse does not have.
My sister and I were talking about the standard question, “What do you do?” (implying job / title) and she has changed it to, “What keeps you busy these days?” I like the latter question better, as it gives a person a chance to share a little more about themselves in another way.
“What keeps you busy these days” is a great conversation starter. I will start using that one. A lot of the angst comes from our own need to explain what we do with our time. Really it comes down to not buying into others’ opinions or Americans’ focus on careers and incomes.
It is as if you’re justifying your life choices due to societal norms. Why?! Just live your life the way you want, and be happy!
I have lots of mom friends who struggle with this. Very well said! And I also laughed at direct reporters. Kids are more honest than any other direct reporters one could have. 😉
Thanks Chris! Funny – I meant as a boss, I have direct reports, but they are also direct reporters too!