Please meet our Featured Mama, Connie Brown. Today is her birthday!
Connie, Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. You are truly an amazing Mama, showing perseverance and courage for your daughter, all while of course looking fabulous! We wish you all the best and success in the years to come & wish you the happiest of Birthdays!
Single Mama on a Mission
I am 32 years old single Mom to my daughter Charlotte, who turned two in September. I am currently co-parenting with my ex-husband and am proud that despite our differences we are on the same page parenting our daughter and have sound communication. People always say that being a Mom is one of the hardest and rewarding jobs all in one. I do not think I ever really understood what that meant until I actually became a Mom. Charlotte has brought me more unconditional love than I knew was possible and I have been able to see the world through this little persons eyes all over again.
Being a Mom has without question changed me for the I am more compassionate, understanding, have redirected values/interests, and frankly do not have time to worry about half of the irrelevant things I was concerned with before I had Charlotte. It has also strengthened my relationships with my family and friends and brought several amazing new ones into my life.
For me the hardest part of being a Mom is that our family life is not how I imagined it would be and that makes me sad for Charlotte. She will never know her family all together under one roof and all of the amazing things that come along with that every day. Luckily, her Dad and I are very amicable which has made the process as manageable as possible and seamless for Charlotte as can be.
Career Challenges, Perks & Rewards
I work full time at Manulife and John Hancock Financial Services, a global financial services firm as the Head of Campus Talent Acquisition for North America. In my role, I lead a team of eight individuals in the attraction and retention of student talent for internship, coop, and new grad programs. I have worked for the company for over 3.5 years and this is my third position during that time.
The biggest challenge for me has been balancing everything, especially while going through a divorce and being a single working Mom. The truth is, if you let yourself, you can feel guilty about just about everything. The thing that has helped me to navigate this is a strong network of people professionally and personally who are supportive, offer a listening ear, and remind me that I am doing a great job.
From a work perspective, I could not have asked for a better situation. I took an extended maternity leave, came back to work on a compressed work week, and now work 1 day per week from home. My company offers flexible work arrangements to work from home, compressed work week, etc. depending on individual’s roles and performance. Our benefits packages offer great rewards for flexible spending, HSA, Back-up child care, college savings discounts, mother’s rooms for breastfeeding, and an onsite gym with health and wellness discounts and benefits.
The most rewarding thing for me is that I have not lost my professional identity. I am continuing to grow and evolve in the way that works for me and being the best me for my daughter.
This is definitely a juggling act. Before having Charlotte, I was very focused on having a clean home, being organized, etc. While this has not completely gone to the wayside, sometimes it takes a back seat. I rely heavily on lists, routines, iphone calendar to stay organized, and leveraging external resources (house cleaners!). For me it is critical to give myself treats here and there too. For example if I know I am tired one week, Charlotte and I will grab dinner at Whole Foods and eat out. It’s fun for her, switches things up and makes me feel like I have a break….the little things go a long way. Iphone and google calendars are essential for us.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!
Charlotte and I spend a lot of time at the park, at gymnastics, play dates with friends, and we do sneak in Disney movies. Currently Aladdin, Cinderella, and Frozen are the favorites. This summer we vacationed with family at the beach. Our must haves are love, patience, laughter, and to celebrate the small moments.
Focusing on Myself
I have joint custody of Charlotte, so I have some time to take care of myself. I work-out 6 days a week and find this is very important to manage stress and the many things I have going on in my life. I also try to get a massage or a manicure every other month or so, it helps me to feel like I have not lost all of the things I indulged before I was a mama. Spending time with my family/friends has been critical. Going through this experience, while one of the hardest things I have ever gone through it has shown me that I have amazing people in my life that will always be there for me no matter what and love me for who I am.
Future Goals & Moving Forward
I wish I had more time to read and travel. I have had the chance to travel quite a bit this year with Charlotte and on my own. In 2015 my goal is to visit Europe. I find inspiration in others who have overcome hardships, not necessarily similar to me own, in general. It helps me to know I am not alone in overcoming a challenging time in my life and that this too shall pass. Additionally, having an amazing group of supportive Mommy friends is critical. I feel like as women we are so hard on ourselves so having someone who you can relate to and that offers you empathy is crucial. Friendship/family support, time to myself to work-out and relax.
Tools for the Wise:
At home: Staying organized is key and accepting when things do not go as planned which is inevitable with a toddler. It is important for me to know Charlotte and I have special time, if I travel for work or play I will plan a day for her and I to do something just us.
At work: This is a struggle for me because I am constantly pushing for more…sometimes this could mean I feel better if I work on a Friday night (weird I know), but I know I will feel better the next day. The key for me is to listen to myself and what I need to not be overwhelmed. As I mentioned earlier, we are all different and unique and I think you need to listen to yourself and what is going to make you individually “balance it all’.
My advice for other Mama’s; Cut yourself some slack!, two deep breaths go a long way, and find a network at home and at work that support you and help you to grow as an individual.My schedule is my biggest challenge because I always want to be in two places at once. It’s hard not to feel guilty for that because I am such a driven person. I work Mon-Thurs in the office, Fridays from home and travel every 5-6 weeks to Canada for about 3-4 days. The nice thing for me is that my work is very flexible so I am able to spend more time with my daughter after I have traveled.
All or Nothing
The biggest challenge I face is that everything I do is all or nothing. When I have Charlotte it’s all me all the time which can be tough on hard days as my family does not live locally. Even on these days, I am constantly reminded that she and I are creating amazing memories just the two of us and the time we spend is truly quality time.