The other day after concluding a presentation to a large group of mothers, an acquaintance came up to tell me what a great job I did.
Just before walking away she added:
“I don’t know how you do it all—between raising three kids, your responsibilities as an NAMC Staff member and adjunct college instructor, and then also finding time to put this amazing presentation together.”
The thing is… I see myself as no different than this mom (who also happens to have three children and works outside the home). In fact, I often wonder how she manages all the things on her plate.
In general, I think many parents look at each other and ask this same question:
How DO they do it?
(And even sometimes, WHY do they do it?!)
The reality is: Every family, every parent, every mother has different experiences, different career aspirations, different ways in which they prioritize their time.
Today we are excited to introduce you to a new interview series meant to highlight the lives of mothers in the workforce. We will ask questions exploring what led these mothers to stay active in their careers, what support they utilize to help them navigate their way, and how this has impacted their mothering experiences.
For our first Work/Life interview, lets meet Kate Mahoney—a member of the Mothers’ Center of Southwest Nassau who is currently a graphic design instructor at a college in upstate New York.
Q: Give us a quick timeline of your career path.
A: I got my BFA in Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. After graduation, I had a successful career as a designer and art director in magazine publishing. My company folded shortly before September 11, 2001 and after the 9/11 tragedy I personally was not prepared to go back into the city for work. So, in 2002 I got my teaching certificate and landed a job teaching college students graphic design. I loved it! In 2006, I went back to school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and graduated in 2010 with a MFA in Digital Art taking some time off in 2009 after having my son.
A few years ago, after several years of working part time, I decided to look for full time employment and finally landed a wonderful position in upstate NY this past Fall. My job required a relocation from Long Island, and I made the tough decision to leave my son on Long Island with his father for my first year on the job.
Q: What is the key component of your support system?
A: This is a really interesting question for me. Ultimately, I decided to relocate for my job because my significant other has been unemployed or working off the books for several years due to emotional issues (which make it difficult for him to hold down a full time job). We used to fight like crazy about work and finances. Initially, it was devastating to realize I could not be the stay at home mom I had always envisioned. Ultimately, I chose to stick by my partner and this meant the need for me be the breadwinner.
Ironically, my partner is my key component of my support system—especially while I live apart from him and my son. He takes such good care of our son. He is a better father while I face the need to be away than I ever expected. Even though he is part of the reason I needed to except this job so far away from home, his support has made it easier than I anticipated.
My mother is also a huge support. She looks after my son on the days my partner works. I could not do this without them both.
Q: Looking back at your motherhood and career path, describe both your hardest and your best moments.
A: I never thought I wanted to marry and was afraid to have kids. Honestly, I was terrified when I made both those decisions. In Hindsight, going back to school to get my masters and having a child were the two best things I have ever done. But both were also incredibly hard… with my hardest moment being when my son decided to arrive into this world weighing only 3.25 lbs 10 weeks early.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you’d known earlier?
A: What I wish I’d known earlier was how amazing life could be with children. It would have been nice to know that I wouldn’t break my infant son even if I had no idea what I was doing. I wish I could have better understood the unconditional love I would have for him, and that I could have foreseen the feelings I’d get when he makes me laugh or hugs me so hard I can’t breathe.
Things have not always been been easy with my son’s father, and sometimes I’ve wondered if the decisions I’ve made were the right ones. But ultimately I know that my son is perfect in my eyes and no matter where I teach or how far away I am from him, I have the wonderful opportunity to meet many amazing students and, along the way, gain some really cool things to teach my son when he is old enough.
Each woman steps through their life differently. We sincerely thank Kate for fearlessly sharing her own story and experiences with us and the Mothers Central blog readers.
Leave a Comment: Please help me welcome Kate Mahoney to Mothers Central by leaving her a comment and sharing her experiences with others using the social media icons below.
DID YOU KNOW:
The NAMC works to create a greater understanding
of good work / life policies and practices?
Get information here about our upcoming 18th Annual Work / Life Conference