When I first became a single mom, I hated that term. My perception of a “single mom” was a woman who lived in a single-wide trailer who wore a fuzzy housecoat and slippers and yelled at her kids with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. OR worse: living in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. As you can see, my “Beaver Cleaver” upbringing didn’t really give me a good point of reference.
The podcasts and audiobooks I listen to keep referencing the fact that “you become like the five people who you spend the most time with.” Considering that three of the five people I spend the most time with are my daughters, it explains a lot. I’m always the mom at SkyZone right in the thick of dodge ball and regress back to my days as a cheerleader, becoming obsessed with perfecting my toe touches and herkeys. (Here’s a pro tip: jumping on a trampoline is never a good idea after giving birth to three children.)
Luckily, also in my “five” (although I would say my “five” is more like “15”) are two incredible single moms. Dana, who is already a respected physician, went back to school for a Fellowship in Gerontology a couple of years ago. She isn’t taking random night classes; she’s already a doctor. Not only that, but Dana is also the mom and dad to two great kids. Meanwhile, my friend Jessica earned her BSN while raising her four kids and working full time. She will be a nurse practitioner within the year. How amazing is that?
These ladies have helped to change my perspective on the “single mom” gig I was handed a few years ago. There are a few things of which I must often remind myself. I am the CEO of a company that I started. My girls are doing great and are hopefully good citizens. Even better, I get to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Every year, I get myself a really “macho” gift on Father’s Day. (This year, I have my eye on a self-propelled lawn mower.)
Sometimes, you just have to reframe your perspective. One of the situations I sometimes talk to candidates about is the loss of a job. I know that many people go through a grieving process during this time, and that is completely normal. Pair that with the stress and frustration of finding a new job and it can be a recipe for depression. These are the times when you really need to have a good support system.
Another concept I’ve encountered is that of the “Personal Board of Directors.” I think you must have a diverse group of people on your “board.” On my “board” are my friends who have a Master’s Degree in Education. They are my “go-to” for child-rearing questions. I also have friends in the medical field who will answer medical questions. (Or in Jessica’s case, come over at 10 p.m. to check on my daughter who was having a horrible allergic reaction while I was having visions of her windpipe closing).
I have friends who will address questions about various aspects of running my business. And of course, in the spirit of diversity, my board is not all women. I am confident that any of the successful men who I went to high school or college with will take my phone call. In fact, my friend Scott gave me some great advice on a marketing question just last week. Being a “Kappa Sig lil’ sis” still has its advantages.
That being said, I also think one important person to include on your “Personal Board of Directors” is a recruiter/headhunter. A good recruiter can help you to navigate your career options, as well as your market salary. Recruiters also help make sure you are gaining the right skills and will give advice regarding your resume. Of all your professional relationships, this is a very important one to have.
Whatever you’re going through—job change, career change, divorce, death, etc.—sometimes you need to change your perspective. Having your “five” and/or your “Personal Board of Directors” will help you get through these times and reframe everything more realistically. I look at the woman in the photo attached to this blog post and realize that I am definitely not the “idea” of the single mom that I originally pictured.
And for that, I am grateful.