I never thought I'd be a full-time working mother.
After meeting my husband in college and knowing that he was 100% THE ONE, I built motherhood into my career aspirations as a budding journalist.
Pre-motherhood me thought that I would become a stay-at-home-mom who freelanced on the side. This was my plan.
But, it turns out, life had other plans.
After our first son was born, my husband decided to get out of the military after a decade in the Navy and go to graduate school.
Like so many moms, I didn't want to go back to work after the birth of our son, but I needed to do it so we could pay the bills. I became the primary breadwinner for the first few years of parenthood while my husband studied and transitioned to his career after the military.
But during those years as sole breadwinner, I grew professionally restless, and started searching for a more entrepreneurial way I could build my career as a journalist-turned-digital creator and content strategist.
Six years ago, while cleaning up the kitchen after putting my two toddler-age sons to bed, inspiration struck. Somewhere between washing tiny plastic dishes and putting away leftover chicken nuggets, a lightbulb moment hit me in our grad school apartment. The digital space that needed the most innovation was motherhood.
I conceived of the motherhood platform that would soon become Motherly, told my husband about the concept (he said 'go for it!'), pitched it to an acquaintance a few days later (my co-founder, Jill Koziol), and within days we were off to the races. We launched Motherly in May 2015 and I began a six-year-sprint managing a startup, mothering two kids, moving half a dozen times, and adding two more children (after two difficult pregnancies) to our family.
At the best of times, I felt like I was living the dream—running a startup, working full time from home, playing with our four kids after work, earning a living to support our family, and making a difference in the lives of mothers.
On hard days, I was running on fumes in every area of my life.
I studied productivity books written by the kings of industry. I psyched myself up with Instagram memes about hustling like a #momboss. I cheerfully embraced "essentialism," until I started noticing how lonely it is to cut out things like friendship, travel and personal connection from my days, my months, my years. I practiced meditation and mindfulness constantly, and still found myself torn in a thousand directions. I listened to podcasts about how to optimize every area of my life, only to find that I was already practicing every trick in the book.
As the years started flying by—as the boys who were soft and squishy toddlers when we launched Motherly started looking more like the chiseled pre-teens they are becoming—I started to see my own motherhood timeline flash before my eyes.
My oldest child turns 9 this summer. He's halfway to college. Halfway through our house. And it's going too fast because I've been going too fast.
I just wanted time to slow down.
I wanted to linger after school pickup with the other families instead of rushing us back so I could return to work.
I wanted to have enough energy to read "one more story, mommy!" at bedtime.
I wanted to spend a summer by the pool letting the hours slip by, instead of stressing out over making it in time to multiple summer camp pickups in time for a late conference call.
I wanted to go to bed early and sleep in late (sometimes) and let my body truly recover from a decade of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I wanted to be able to go for a walk with the dog and not feel like there was somewhere else I needed to be.
I wanted to be able to cook dinner and eat as a family, something my husband and I had not been able to manage with two full-time careers and 4 kids to date.
I wanted our family to have a more mentally present parent available to them. And I wanted it to be me.
What I wanted for a season of life was what a majority of mothers want: I wanted to work part-time.
"It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger." That mantra has carried me through so many chapters as more children were added to our family and more projects to my plate.
But in certain seasons of life, you just want time to slow down.
When I pitched my part-time work idea to my co-founder Jill, she immediately understood and supported my plans. We defined my new role and put new guardrails in place (limited meetings! new reporting structures! reduced hours!). And we put a team in place to make it happen.
I'm still involved in our company, hosting The Motherly Podcast, advising on content and audience strategy, and representing the company in public venues and on our board. But the day-to-day content and audience operations are now handled by the fabulously talented team that I get to adore like a proud grandma (AKA, at a slight distance).
I started my new schedule a few months ago and I love it. Working part-time for a season is allowing me to catch my breath after a decade of constant growth at work and at home, where I did nothing but push myself personally and professionally. For me, this chapter is letting me recover. I am even more focused at work because my limited hours mean I need to spend my time on areas that would have the largest possible impact on our mission and business.
As a mom, I find myself laughing more, playing more. I'm reading more bedtime stories, saying yes to little adventures, and taking my kids on day trips during the workweek. Our house to-do list has gotten shorter because I'm getting through projects I never had time to take on. I'm cooking again (okay, just a little) and have time to teach my kids how to pitch in more around the house. I'm more present, more rested. I'm dreaming again about new chapters yet to come.
This wasn't what I imagined even a year or two ago. I plan to eventually return to full-time work and even genuinely look forward to it. But I'm open-minded about when and where work will happen going forward. Motherly has always been 100% fully remote, and now the entire global workplace is radically innovating, and I am here for it. For many of us, work probably won't look the same years from now as it does now, and I am at peace with that.
Because I'm so glad that for right now, I'm exactly where I need and want to be: part-time at Motherly, and, as always, a full-time mother.