AFWA Member, Brenda Lindsey is a Controller at Canyon Creek Energy. With four children and one grandchild, she has a lot to say about working motherhood and the challenges that come with it. We recently asked Brenda a few questions about how she manages career and family.
AFWA: Tell us in one sentence, what do your kids think you do for a living?
BL: Sit at my desk, type a little, add a few numbers, but mostly look out the window.
AFWA: Do your kids understand why it’s important for mom to work?
BL: Well, they like to spend my money! I want my children to know each person can be self-supportive. It’s not just “work” for busyness sake, your work adds value to your organization. And being part of a team where you contribute is very rewarding. I love for them to come to my office and see everyone enjoying being here. We have fun together and do fun stuff as a company. I want them to find what it is they enjoy so that work doesn’t seem like work.
AFWA: How did becoming a mom affect your career path?
BL: After graduating college, I worked for seven years until my firstborn was one year old. I became a stay-at-home mom for the next 10 years, but went back to work 12 years ago when my youngest started Pre-K. So I didn’t work while I had babies (I applaud those that do), but my 4 kids were all in grade school when I went back. When I left the workforce, there was no internet at work (can you imagine!?) When I came back, so much had changed, it was intimidating. I thought surely I would have to start over. My confidence was low. But with the help of some excellent mentors and a wonderfully supportive husband (kudos to single moms, too!), I found my way back. However, my male peers definitely moved ahead (up the ladder) during that time. So becoming a mom definitely slowed down my career….but I wouldn’t change a thing, except to market myself better and be more confident when I re-entered the workforce.
AFWA: Did you ever feel resistance in the workplace as a mom? If yes, how did you overcome it?
BL: My daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014. We had to move to Memphis while she received treatment at St. Jude (she is in remission now – yay!). My employer let me work remotely for one week and then my husband and I would switch and I would be at home while he stayed in Memphis. His workplace was very supportive. But the relationship at my job became very strained. Even though I was probably getting more work done remotely, and the people working for me were great (I was the controller), my manager was not understanding (surprisingly, she was a mom herself), but she felt the time away should be PTO. It was probably more of a unwillingness to let employees have a flexible schedule and work remotely, more than resistance to me being a mom. As soon as we were back at home full-time, I found another job.
AFWA: What’s your greatest challenge as a working mom? And, has that changed as your kids have grown?
BL: Just being able to be present for all their activities or being there for them when they are sick. It really doesn’t change much. I still seem to have lots of conflicts. When I get to my daughter’s soccer game and her friends all say, “Wow, you’re mom’s here!” it makes me feel sad – like I’m a bad mom because I miss so much more than the other moms. Fundraisers and other get-togethers are planned for during the day and I just can’t be there.
AFWA: What professional advice would you give new moms today?
BL: Find a job that has flexibility – letting you work remotely, letting you adjust your hours so you can attend events. They are out there (I have one now!), but you have to be up front in an interview about it.
AFWA: Sometimes motherhood and work collide – what’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Brenda proceeded to share a hilarious account of a hectic morning, one in which most moms could relate. Let’s just say it involves missing soccer clothes, a grumpy teenager, a forgotten band instrument, and a race to not break perfect attendance, all before she started her work day.
AFWA: What do you know now that you wish you had known when your kids were first born?
BL: That you CAN have it all – but maybe not all at the same time. There is a season for everything.
AFWA: As a working mom, how do you do it all? Share your secret!
BL: Oh I don’t! I delegate! Seriously, if you can afford it, don’t feel guilty about hiring things done – housekeeping especially!
AFWA: Finally, what’s one thing you want others to know about your feelings toward working while raising a family?
BL: Other moms need to quit saying, “I stay home because I wanted to raise my kids myself.” As if the rest of us are not “raising” our own kids. Ugh!! I have been on both sides of this fence (since I stayed home when mine were babies). Staying home with kids is not best for everyone. Every family needs to decide what works best for them and then be happy and supportive of other mom’s decisions.