What’s in a Title?

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.

Me and my cute "direct reports."

Me and my cute “direct reports.”

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!

Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ's. What a way to start off the day!

Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ’s. What a way to start off the day!

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.

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Transition Back to Work

After being at my new job for a whopping three weeks, or six days, I feel like I can accurately share details about my transition back to work.  In a word:

GOOD!

I am very happy to have more structure, as I have to be more organized and productive in order to make my work days go more smoothly.  This means a few things –

  • Getting as much ready as I can the night before.  Kids stuff packed, my lunch packed in containers ready to go into my lunch box, items staged close to the door, dinner planned and prepped (if I can).
  • Wake up BEFORE everyone else!  This is key in getting ready quickly, so I can get out the door when I need to.  Plus, I love the quiet house in the morning.
  • Don’t get distracted.  I have a tendency to linger and putter around in the morning when eating breakfast.  On my word days I have to stop myself and stay focused on what I MUST DO instead of the “NICE to-do’s.”
  • Prep snacks for the kids because they are hungry immediately upon arriving home.  Instead of just throwing more crackers their way, I try to have cut up fruits and veggies ready for them.
  • Keep dinner simple.  We typically eat leftovers, crock-pot meals, or quick & easy to make meals.  Tonight it was pasta with red onions and black olives.  Yum!

Do I still have crazy moments in the two hours from daycare pick-up until my kid’s bedtime on my work days? Without a doubt! But together, my awesome teammate / husband and I figure it out and make it work.  It is only two days out of the week, so it has not been too difficult of a transition thus far.

Work wise, I’ve had to adjust from my larger, corporate marketing mindset to that of a small business.  I have to scale down some efforts to an appropriate level that matches our current resources with my time often being the limiting factor.  I work with extremely nice people; it’s too small of a business for office politics; and I feel like I’m already making a difference.  Of course there are some new ideas and changes that I’d like to propose, and I hope to do so in due time.  Until then, I’ll clock in for my two days a week and accomplish whatever I can to keep plans moving in the right direction!

How do you make your workdays easier?  If you transitioned from staying home to working, I’d love to hear how you make it work!

Mom GPS Re-calculating

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m the go-to person in our house on where to find any- and everything. It’s a skill many moms have, and I’d like to think of it as Mom GPS (without the annoying monotone voice – I hope).

My husband will say, “Where is my phone, keys, form….fill in the blank here..” and I can typically tell him almost immediately. Sometimes what he’s looking for is literally right in front of his face. Amazing – and he’s the one with the 20/20 vision!

I know it’s because I’m home with the kids all the time that my Mom GPS is so accurate.  I’m helping with toy clean-up, cleaning and putting away dishes, clothes, art projects.  You name it: moms do it!

While my GPS for the everyday running of our house is good, I can’t help but feel it’s a little off for the rest of my life. There’s no clear direction or roadmap for how to best manage parenting, marriage, and some form of work. As of right now, as a professional SAHM, volunteer, and occasional freelance marketer, I feel like something is missing.  It’s not enough, though I’m trying desperately to convince myself that it IS.

I need to spend time re-calculating to understand how to get to a happier destination or at least feel happier on my journey right now.  I can’t really make a u-turn, as a GPS will often tell you to do. Perhaps my detour of staying at home for one year will give me time to find a new path that will work for me AND my family.

How have you re-calculated during your own life? How has your destination or journey changed after having children?

For some other posts about my job hunt and work, check these out: The Wait is Over, The Waiting Game, Getting Rejected, Could it be? Do I really HAVE IT ALL?, Slowing Down my Climb, Why I Miss Work.