Navigating Motherhood And Ambition? Here is How One Mom is Doing It with Three Kids.
Often times women are the ones who face more difficult choices and decisions (than their male counterparts) when juggling career and parenthood.
Our mission at Mitera is to help new moms look and feel their best, while empowering them to lead meaningful lives beyond motherhood - climbing the corporate ladders, landing scientific discoveries, smashing glass ceilings, and breaking social norms and records. We are firm believers that motherhood does not take away from a woman's identity, but rather adds to it; making us even stronger, more resilient and resourceful than ever before.
Simply put, Mitera exists to help women realize their power and potential of motherhood.
So naturally, when we heard about The Mom Project (TMP) and its mission to helping women remain active in the workforce in every stage in their journey - we were stoked to partner together!
As a featured mom, Kimberly Didrikson, mom of two sons and a recently born daughter, and founder of Learning Motherhood, invited us to her home and discussed the exciting and sometimes confusing adventure of family, motherhood, ambition and aspirations.
Kim in the Mitera Katie Dress
1. Tell us about yourself in a nutshell. Where did you grow up, what did you study?
I grew up in Down East Maine. I spent most of my early childhood enjoying the outdoors and as I grew older I started to really love playing sports competitively. I ended up receiving a grant to go to Bryant University in Smithfield, RI to play soccer which was great because that is the college I had been hoping to be accepted to. Since my sophomore year of high school I knew I wanted a business degree so Bryant was a perfect fit. I received my degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and accepted a job upon graduation with Staples Business Advantage in San Diego, CA as a Business Developer, which is where I began my 15 year corporate sales career with the company. I ended my career with Staples as an Area Sales Manager managing a sales team that represented 20 million dollars in annual revenue. I am now a stay at home mom with 4 year old boy, 2 year old boy, and 4 month old baby girl. My focus currently is on providing an environment for my three kids which represents strength, growth, encouragement, kindness, and most importantly laughter.
2. How has your fourth trimester been? How has your breastfeeding experience this time around?
With this being my third experience in the 4th trimester I have to say it has been my best one yet. I think that has a lot to do with experience in understanding and communicating with others what I need in order to be the best mom I can. That means self care, that means support, that means patience, and understanding. In terms of my breastfeeding experience I had been really hopeful that the 3rd time in this newborn phase I would have it down but every baby is different and while every baby is different I have had a really hard time breastfeeding all three of my children for the first 7 weeks of their life. This includes mastitis, thrush, plugged ducts, and nipple blisters. With that said finding the right experts to assist during these incredibly difficult painful weeks made a huge difference and I’m glad to say once I make it through those first 7 weeks it has been smooth sailing. I hope to breastfeed my little girl until her first birthday just like I did with my two boys.
3. You mentioned you left your full-time corporate job after maternity leave with your second child...like so many of us before we had kids, your identity must have been tied up with your job, how did it feel to let go of that?
It has been really hard to let go of that identity as it was apart of me for 15 years and I had worked so hard to get to where I was in my career with a job that I loved. My job description changed while I was on maternity leave from no travel to 90% travel as the company shifted its sales strategy and reorganized the territories. I still have a hard time with not being connected to the traditional title of “working mom” but I know that for our family right now it is the right decision for us. What is the most challenging about not working at this point is not having that dedicated outlet to just focus on my own development. I have to work very hard to find time to focus on my development but I’m committed to doing it. I just have to give myself a little bit of grace and realize that this is a season in my life and more time to pursue my career goals again will present themselves when its right. Do you miss your working self? I miss parts of it for sure. Especially being able to associate with something outside of my title of a mom. At the same time for most working moms you want to be in two places at once. I remember this one moment so clearly, my stay at home mom friends had invited me to a story time with their kids and for the first time I could go. In mid story time I looked at my 9 month old son in complete bliss and started crying. I have never felt so torn in my life and I do my best now being home with the kids to appreciate those moments as I know what the other side looks like. How did the first few months at home feel? It felt good and scary at the same time. I wanted to know what was my next move was right then. I even considered starting my MBA but thought I should breath for a moment since I had a newly 2 year old and a 4 month old at home.
Kim in the Mitera Elif Dress
4. Did you always know that once you became a mom, you would re-evaluate whether the corporate career path was right for you?
Absolutely not. I thought for sure I would continue to work on building my career at Staples. My husband and I would speak about what the future would look like after having kids and it always was a no brainer that I would continue to be working pursuing my ambitions. Its funny how these amazing little humans just change your thought process and impact your life in the most unexpected way. After I had my first I created more defined work hours and I actually was more efficient with my time as I knew how important it was to maximize my hours at work and home.
5. As a third time mom, what advice would you give a new mom just starting off her motherhood journey?
Be patient with yourself. Have a strong support network for after the babies arrival, make sure you take time for yourself, and as someone that went through postpartum depression twice don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have anything related to anxiety or depression. The transition to motherhood is an amazing identity shift but it is not any easy one and it's important to know that this beautiful human being will love you through all your imperfections.
6. How did you come up across The Mom Project?
I was searching online for contract work options for myself.
7. How does it feel being part of the TMP & Mitera community, two mom-owned companies that are focused on empowering moms and are committed to finding solutions for working moms navigating their journey between ambition & motherhood so moms don’t have to give up one for the other?
It's incredibly uplifting and honestly I feel understood. I’m in the middle of this phase of exploring how to pursue my ambitions and be the mother I want to be. I know I can not have it all but I’m working on trying to find a balance that allows me to tap into some of my needs and ambition to continue my career in a flex environment.
8. The pivot from a career woman to stay at home mom can be a complicated one. The drastic change of pace and self-identity shift are some obstacles you might have faced...how did you deal with this change?
I’m still navigating through this one but I do everything I can to give an hour to myself a day. Right now that hour is dedicated to fitness. I found that my mental health is directly impacted by fitness so whether it is a walk, Orange Theory, or a run I try to get something in each day. The other piece is having a community of moms that I can reach out to. At this point it is mostly via text but just having an outlet to vent and or ask advice has been incredibly important in this season of life.
9. What are some suggestions you’d like to share with moms who are going through an identity shift and feel conflicted about staying home with their child versus wanting to get back into the game?
The best advice I received when I was making this change was hearing from so many tell me that nothing is permanent. I had this fear that if I left my job that my career was over. I have learned very quickly that is not the case the right opportunities that fits your family needs is out there and will find you when you are ready. I will add I don’t believe that we as women can have it all there are sacrifices we will have to make and that is okay. You just have to decide which sacrifices makes sense for your family and what things are a priority for you.
10. In today’s society, there are many shades of gray between ambition and motherhood and the two extremes of being either being a working mother or a stay-at-home mother is fading away. TMP is addressing this change & connecting mom with great opportunities while keeping their personal responsibilities in mind - what do you personally love about the TMP platform?
I absolutely love that the TMP platform provides moms with not only career opportunities with companies that are willing to accommodate flexible work schedules but also a place where moms can pursue their individual goals. Often times it is hard to maintain a piece of yourself as an individual after having children especially if you decide that your current job is no longer the right fit for your new role as mom. TMP provides a platform for you to explore job opportunities to assist in making that change in your life without losing your ability to pursue your goals. With this option available you are happier mom and in my opinion it allows you then to be a better parent for your children.
11. Going through this for the 3rd time first-hand, what are some resources you felt were lacking out there that you wished you could tap into for support?
Oh where do I start? I have so much to say regarding this topic and really feel passionate about helping moms be better prepared for this change in life. First and foremost I believe that we do parents a disservice in preparing them for what happens after their babies are born. Because of this we leave parents in many cases in an intense struggle that can affect so much of their lives as an individual and a unit. It would be great to offer expecting parents an online course that was specifically related to knowledge of what the postpartum period looks like. In my experience that relates to preparing parents for what happens in the 4thtrimester including breastfeeding. There are two things that I would do differently if I were to look back at my first time mom self. One I would have absolutely had a lactation consultant come to my home after leaving the hospital and how nice would it be if every pediatricians office had a lactation consultant in their practice. Two I would have educated myself way more about C-Sections and the recovery considering I had an unplanned C-Section. Lastly I truly believe that there is a lack of understanding about maternity leave from the state and federal rights for parents. I spent a tremendous amount of time figuring out what this would look like for our family financially and how much leave I could take advantage of. We are really lacking in providing clear information to expecting moms on what benefits they have access to in order to maximize their time off with their baby should they choose to do so.
12. If you could give one piece of advice to moms contemplating a “work + life integration” shift in their life, what would it be?
I would suggest that if you can put the mom guilt aside and really evaluate what makes sense for you as an individual that is the best way to help come to decision on whether a shift in your career makes sense. In other words a happy mom is key to enjoying your parenting journey and if that means your current job makes you happy then maybe it is time to talk to your employer to see if they can assist in helping with the life balance. If your current job is not providing you that fulfillment, know that finding the right balance will present itself to you as you rediscover what works for your family so be patient with yourself.
13. What would you tell a first time mom who’s just getting ready to come back from maternity leave and feeling jittery/nervous?
I would tell them the importance of communicating with their management/HR how they are feeling leading up to returning to work. I had been working through postpartum depression while being on maternity leave so talking to my HR department helped me feel more comfortable as they knew this was going to be a tough transition at first. Another tip is to start your first day back in the middle of the week. That way you are only working three days in the first week back to help with the adjustment. Also do not be afraid to ask about flexible work schedules. Many companies will work with you as a valued employee and want to make this transition back a comfortable one.
14. How did you KNOW it was time to make a change in your career?
When my job description changed from no travel to a territory of all the West Coast and it would require 90% travel in the first year.
15. Let’s say you are speaking to a CEO and Head of HR about how to retain working moms in the workplace, what would you tell them/suggest?
I would stress the importance of a flexible work schedule and promoting it from the top down but also living and breathing it. Often time companies will advertise this as an option but then not really promote it to their employees. I truly feel that this isn’t only an issue for working moms but working dads. A schedule that works for the whole family makes for happier employees which will lessen turnover and create a company culture where employees want to grow with the company and sustain high valued talent.
Some other questions:
- Your go-to outfit for nursing? Leggings and a loose fitting top with a cardigan.
- How do you feel in your Mitera pieces? Incredibly comfortable and at the same time put together in a way that provides me with this confidence to just elevate my day. It's amazing how clothes have such an impact on your mood when you start your day.
- How do you take care of yourself outside of motherhood? Fitness really impacts my mood. Before having children it was all about staying fit and under a certain weight. After having my third it is completely for my mental health with of course the benefit of physical health. The next is pouring my thoughts out regarding motherhood into my blog and Instagram account. Having a place to share my story of learning how to navigate motherhood and hopefully help other moms is incredibly rewarding. Lastly my friendships are crucial to just stepping out of the grind of life and laughing or crying together. While right now in this season of my life most of the connection is done via text I’m so incredibly thankful to have such strong friendships that I can reach out to.
- Tell us about your blog Learning Motherhood. What it is about? Learning Motherhood was created as a place to provide moms who are looking for resources and experience of another mom to leverage in their own journey of motherhood through knowledge based information. It is an open and honest depiction of what my experience thus far has been on topics that I find moms need the most support on. I’m trying to reach the mom that is up at night searching for “I’m not the only one going through this” and provide resources that help navigate through their current phase. I’m trying to reach the moms that experiencing many firsts on their own and looking for answers on how another mom navigated through similar situations.