Featured Mama ~ Kristin Grasso Marriage & Family Therapist, Children’s Outpatient Clinician & Administrative Assistant for Finance

kgrassofamilyMy Story…My name is Kristin Grasso; I am 34 years old and am married to my husband Jamie and we have two amazing kiddos: Elizabeth (age 6 ½) and Nicholas (age 2 ½). Elizabeth is entering first grade and she is already reading everything she can touch. She is inquisitive and bright and we find her always caring for those who are sad, even those she doesn’t know. Nicholas is a ninja. He is our bouncing baby boy who brings a smile wherever he goes. When he is not showing off his ninja skills he is snuggling his mommy, daddy or ‘sissy’. We currently live, work and play Vermont. I grew up in New Hampshire and my husband in Connecticut for 8 years and then VT for the remaining years. I am currently a Rostered Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice, a Children’s Outpatient Clinician in community mental health, and an Administrative Assistant for Finance at Keurig Green Mountain. Yes, you read that correctly, three jobs!

I always knew I wanted to be in a ‘helping’ profession. My undergraduate studies were completed at the University of New Hampshire with a major in Family Studies. Towards the end of my degree I found a job as an Administrative Assistant that paid far more than a social worker position, and so, like many others, I got a job not utilizing my degree at all. For years I worked ‘helping’ managers and senior executives, only not to the capacity I had always dreamed of. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized I wanted more, that I needed more. Every day was a personal struggle sending her into the care of someone else for me to go to a job that was not richly satisfying or fulfilling. Sending her into someone else’s care was a must, I found myself eager to get out every day and even counting the minutes they had with her versus the minutes I had with her. Since I had to work I knew I had to find a new plan.

My ah-ha moment…one night (or perhaps one early morning) when I was nursing her and fantasizing about what kind of woman she would be, and at that moment I realized that she would be the kind of woman that I showed her to be. It was then that I knew I had to re-enroll to earn my degree in mental health in order to satisfy not only my career need but my need to show my daughter that she too could find happiness and balance in anything she chose to do.

For 3 long years… I worked late nights and early weekend mornings to read, study, write papers, and answer posts while working full time and caring for 1, and then 2, children. I spent 2 separate weeks away to complete residencies; I lost more sleep while finding an internship site and then completed a year long, unpaid, internship. I now have completed my schooling and am working towards licensure, another enduring task however the stress is much less as I have given myself credit for how far I have come and have worked hard to take the pressure of reaching licensure as quickly as reaching graduation.

My good fortune…I have found that I was very fortunate to work for a large company who supported mothers. With both my children I was in a company that had a nursing mother’s room. Two separate companies, but both had very similar cultures and were both very flexible in allowing for unexpected time off. I have been very fortunate in that sense. What I have found to be the biggest challenge is my own internal battle about being a working mama. I find guilt and shame creep up on me at times when I am either vulnerable or simply wanting to stay at home a little longer one morning. Societal pressures show their ugly faces to both stay at home moms, and working moms, and thus I feel conflicted at times.

Satisfaction… It is the satisfaction I receive when I am with my clients and the instant gratification I get when completing a task that has meaning to me as a therapist, and not just a mom, that allows me to help push away the shame and the guilt of being a working mama.  Even during the times when I have to cancel clients because of a sick child (which is rare since I have a very supportive husband who splits our childcare responsibilities 50/50) I find shame and guilt creep in right before the phone call and then by the end of the call I am reassured because people understand that these things happen, and so I move on.

I have worked hard… and continue to work hard, on balance and self-care. I rely heavily on my husband and my friends. My husband and my friends allow me to laugh, cry, vent, sulk, smile, and most importantly normalize my fears and worries throughout all of my work and schooling. A must have career essential for any working mom is support. Support from your spouse, family, friends, mentor, or anyone who will give it to you. Support is a must.

My current schedule… can bring me to three different places in any given day. I balance by clustering appointments to my advantage based on time and place. This leads me to another career essential – a planner. I utilize an hourly notebook planner because of clients but I also add appointments and other events to that calendar. I also utilize my smartphone calendar. These two calendars hold every personal and work appointment, from clients and appointments to birthday parties and upcoming girl’s nights. Finding a way to organize your time is another must.  I book shopping trips and girl’s nights out months in advance at times because sometime that is the closest available time. For me time I attempt the gym at least once per week, I have girls night typically once per month, I see my own therapist, and a chiropractor. The better I care for myself, the more balanced not only I am, but my family as well.

KgrassoFamily time…is very important in our home. We do everything together as often as we can. Our philosophy is they will be young for only a short time so absorb it, laugh at it, love it, and cherish it. Birthday parties, hikes, movies, swimming, sports of any kind, reading, gardening, community family fun, and anything we can get our hands on we’ll try. My organizational skills keep us organized for fun. Both my husband and I cover meals and meal planning. My husband, thankfully, does all the bills – after a year of unpaid internship I never wanted to know where we stood financially all I wanted to know was whether or not we could go out for ice cream! The essential must have for our family is teamwork. We want our children to know that we are a team in all that we do, whether we succeed or fail, whether we are standing by each other’s side or holding one another accountable, in the end we will always be a team.

My words of wisdom… for all the working mama’s out there is to do your best and be easy on yourself. We are our own worst critic. Many times there is nobody actually judging us for what we fear they are judging us for, but rather our worry is what brings us unhappiness. Do your best, be kind, smile, let others help, take care of yourself physically/mentally/emotionally, cry when you need, laugh even more, and enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

 

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Featured Mama ~ Erin F. Bouthiette CoFounder Blissfulmamas

My Story… My name is Erin F. Bouthiette; I am 32 years old, married to my husband Scott for 8 years and we have a wonderful son Samuel who is 3 yrs. young. I am currently the Chief Operating Officer of an IT Consulting Firm called Relational IT. I have been in the staffing industry since I graduated from college –an industry that I just sort of just fell into. While attending St. Michael’s, I majored in Music & Psychology and had a true passion for understanding and helping others through the medium of music. When I realized (very quickly) that this industry was not conducive to the real world “making-a-living” standards, I decided to take a chance at recruiting & sales –something I was actually really good at! Over the past ten years I have learned a lot about myself, and have luckily had some great mentors along the way to help me grow.  The fast paced, deal making machine career was in full force –and then I got pregnant.

I remember worrying about my role and duties in the bustling city of Boston literally up until the day that I went into labor. When I returned to work after 3 mos., I realized that things were not the same. I was treated differently –as if I couldn’t handle the regular workload, had to pump in a gross bathroom, and constantly felt guilty about leaving my son at daycare. A co-worker of mine actually said to me “the worst thing you ever did for your career was have a baby”. Is that a joke?!

Everything changed for me when I received an email from an old friend and he asked me to help start Relational IT and offered the flexibility to have a family & career but most important to me – a growth opportunity. My personality didn’t just change because now I have a new baby and family. I still want and desire to grow in my career and to be a top performer. We are currently about 2.5 years into our new company and doing great! Finally, I was able to find an organization and culture that supported what I thought was a reasonable attitude toward working mothers, respectful of the flexibility that working professional parents need but also offering me the challenge and stimulation that I needed as a professional to continue to thrive and grow in my career.

My longest & best friend in the world, Becky Couture (also married w/two young boys) and I decided to start the Blissfulmamas Project because we have both grown to understand that sometimes we will find balance, sometimes things will be chaotic and out of whack, sometimes we all long for change, and are pushed to take a leap of faith to make the changes necessary to find our happy place. Our goal for blissfulmamas is to create a network and community of working mothers who can inspire each other, share what works/what doesn’t and create a positive outcome pushing towards the changes we all need in realizing the culture we must live to feel balanced in career, family and me.

My career challenges…I have dealt with discrimination as a woman, not being taken seriously and once pregnant and then a mother facing judgment from others in my career –am I giving enough time and effort? But the most rewarding thing about being a working mother has been using my brain! Business can be tricky & it is fun to figure out how to deal with different situations & people. I have also had a wonderful support system and grew up in a household where both parents worked. I often look to my parents for advice in business and family life. The essential key has been the fact that my husband has always supported me and my need for new ventures & challenges!

How things have changed…My current organization supports working mothers by not asking questions about where I am, how much time I put in & in turn –I work my ass off! My boss also pushes me to work on projects like blissfulmamas & also volunteering opportunities. I am currently the Co-Chair of the Women’s Initiative of the North Shore Technology Council where I lead topic discussions & host events for women in technology. Yes, I am a secret geek!

Essential career must have… My smartphone & calendar.

Family Dynamic… My husband Scott and I have been married for 8 years. We fell in love in the hills of VT and he is my mountain man. We try to be good parents, although we are often stressed (both working parents trying to balance). We have one son Samuel who is very high energy and the love of our lives! He is a 3 year old rough & tumble boy plus also the sweetest little thing in the world. We call him our little sour patch kid. Sweet, then sour!

To keep organized… I currently use spreadsheets to organize lists, budgets & we use a notebook for bills (how old-school!) but it works for now. I feel like we could be using more technology to help here!! I use a lot of technology at work, but not as much to stay organized in home life. This could definitely use an upgrade!

Fun, fun, fun…  We love to do anything outdoors. Scott and I love hiking, snowboarding, swimming –anything adventurous we are into. Since having Sam we haven’t had as much time to do action sports, but eventually we will get back into them (in a mild way). Right now we are all loving the beach and try to get there at least 1-2 times a week. We often go at night after work just to break up the week and take a dip on hot days. Sam loves the waves and just runs up and down the beach 100x after the water and giggles.

Can’t leave home without… Sunscreen (we are all Irish!) We also love Aden & Anais blankets -Sam’s ultimate must have!

Me Time…  I try to work out on the regular. It really keeps my head in a good place. I need to make more time for girl time with friends and date nights with the hubs. I also love playing music, but often don’t find time to dedicate to this. I had been good about taking piano lessons before having my son, but that has drifted. I have a personal goal to get back into it. I have been a musician for 18 years and love music. It really is a part of my soul.

My inspiration…  Water. I love the ocean or any water in fact, it clears my mind.  sambeachboardwalk

Everyday go to…Mascara.

To find balance… Find the culture that you desire. Also, you can’t do it all! My husband is a big key to my success as a professional, mother and taking time for just myself. In fact, he is putting Samuel to bed as I write this, because Sam is in the (you go to bed when I go to bed phase) even though I have a TON of work to do!  I work 4 days in the office and/or travel to Boston. I work from home on Fridays and spend the day juggling Sam, emails, calls, the park and not being so distracted by work that I ignore my child all day long. Some days are better than others. It helps when I have an activity planned for the morning.

To NOT find balance… I can often feel overwhelmed and anxious that I am not giving enough to each area of my life. I am an overachiever –Capricorn to the max!

Words of wisdom… Take it day by day. I really like and thrive in making lists to feel more in control and it also helps me to prioritize what I need to do. I try to remember the important things in life. My family, our health and happiness always.