#BrainSHE: Lessons Learned as a Working Mom

As we head toward Mother's Day, we take a moment to meditate on what it is to be a working mom. One of our early Braintree pioneers was Katrina, who is an account manager and has been with the company for 4+ years. Soliciting feedback from other Braintree moms, she submitted her thoughts on her journey:

“Working moms don't get enough sleep.  It's just a fact of life,” says Sarah Kowalski, Sales Operations Manager at Braintree.

A lot of emphasis is placed on the overwhelming aspects of trying to be both a good mother and a good employee.  As we approach Mother’s Day, it’s important to remember the benefits that working moms can have today.  

While I took Braintree’s first maternity leave two years ago, I wasn’t exactly a pioneer.  When Braintree hired a nursing mother during my first pregnancy, I was so glad to be able to learn from her.  Talking with other working moms has been critical in providing perspective and education for my own journey.

Women have a long way to go in terms of top careers, board positions, and the pay gap in the U.S., but we’re privileged to live in a society that provides so much freedom and opportunity for women.  My life at Braintree has been a remarkable example of this freedom.  But even in our society not all work opportunities for moms are created equal.  While there are some challenges, there are also some awesome things I’ve learned that help a working mom, at least at Braintree.

Lesson #1: Flexibility can provide balance

“(The biggest challenge in being a working mom is) not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Braintree allows me great flexibility with my schedule. ” – Tracey Weinberg, SVP of Marketing.  Flexible work hours and ability to work outside of the office are often key to having a good work/life balance.  This is something that Braintree has been great in offering to moms who need it.  

While working from home does not negate the need for full-time childcare with young children (as this video illustrates), it does remove the long commute time and makes it easier to be fully present with your kids when you’re not working.  

Braintree provides unique flexibility through the open vacation policy, 12 weeks paid maternity leave and loose office hours.  Jenna Wyer, VP of Sales says, “Braintree has allowed me the flexibility to be present at every school event, game, performance and conference my children have had during my time here.  I know my colleagues understand the "mom juggle" and support me when taking some time during the day to be offline.  I love that I can also handle tasks more efficiently in the wee hours of the night or morning, when my children are asleep and feel satisfied I still got things done even if they weren't during the hours of 9-5pm."

Lesson #2: You can become a better you

The benefit of working and mothering is that you get to sharpen two sides of yourself daily.  Sarah says “Just continue to strive to be better organized, more thoughtful and less reactive. “  As you work to bring balance to both sides, you find that you become a more whole person: better equipped than before and constantly improving in multiple aspects of life.

It’s easy to feel guilty when you see women around you who’ve chosen to stay at home.  Realizing that you’re giving your child a great example should remove this guilt.  Whether you work matters less than how you love your kids and choose to make their needs a priority.

Lesson #3: Learn to rely on others

“It takes an amazing capacity for stress to do both well without help. I realized it was ok to admit I couldn't do it all, and asking for help from friends and family was ok.” says Jenna.   Personally, I have been so grateful to have a good husband who is willing to share the opportunity of kid raising.  Having family/friend support is key to living a successfully balanced life.

Lesson #4: Having kids is fun

Ok, not the actual having of kids – I’m 9 months pregnant at the moment and dreading the imminent, oncoming labor.  But, right after that and onward is fun.  Each Braintree mom I spoke with talked about how her biggest joy is interacting with her kids and seeing their perspective on the world.  Even if you’re not the maternal type, it’s incredibly fun to raise humans.  They’re curious, thoughtful, creative, funny, and passionate.

I love my work at Braintree.  From the beginning, our focus on truth in pricing challenged a sketchy industry full of hidden fees.  It’s been amazing to watch more companies post their pricing on their websites.  I’ve been glad to contribute and see Braintree’s influence benefit ecommerce integrity.

I love my work as a mom, too.  It is the joy of my life to hang out with my daughter: going shopping, baking, reading and generally including her in my everyday life.  The biggest challenge in being a working mom is having the energy to invest in your kids off work hours.  This challenge is also the most rewarding part of parenting: to invest in future contributing members of society.

I'm glad I've chosen to be a mother and continue working at Braintree. I've become a better employee by learning to juggle the various aspects of my life.  I also see how I'm constantly improving as a mom.  

Of course, that could just be the sleep deprivation talking.

Katrina Hodges Katrina Hodges was previously an Account Manager at Braintree. More posts by this author

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