I met Kristi (bio below) at a Time Out for Women event in Logan, UT last year. After a brief conversation, I invited her to guest blog. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.
My days are much like those of any stay at home mom – meals, playtime, snacks, naps, more playtime, cleaning up, household chores, and bedtime routines. Somewhere in the middle of it all, and often late at night after my girls are in bed, I find time to devote to my career. Finding the time isn’t always easy. My girls get sick or decide to boycott naps for a week and often after a rough day the last thing I want to do is stay up late working on a P&L. But I do it because I love it. And I firmly believe that I am a better person, especially a better mother, because of it.
I’ve been asked a lot why I work and how I manage it all. At first I struggled with how to answer because I felt like the truth, that I worked because I enjoyed it and that managing work often meant less trips to children’s museums and more movies or iPad games, was unacceptable. I was admitting to being selfish and as a mother aren’t you supposed to be selfless?
In reading Gretchin Rubin’s The Happiness Project, the idea of “Being Gretchen”, or being true to who you are, stood out to me. Coupled with Robert Johnson’s theory that our psyche is made of both feminine and masculine components, I realized that being Kristi meant finding my own unique way to develop and fulfill both of those components.
I know moms that feel completely fulfilled being at home with their kids. They are able to be the metaphorical safe harbor and ship through the situations they are presented with each day. Other moms accomplish it through hobbies, church service, or the PTA. For me, developing the masculine component comes from my work. I am constantly presented with new challenges to navigate and problems to solve. Doing so satisfies a part of me that raising children does not. I grew up dreaming of a career, of working hard and accomplishing something great. Ignoring that part of me in favor of my more feminine qualities could never lead me to being Kristi, which is a key component to my happiness.
Realizing that we are at our best and happiest when we are striving to develop both components, I thought about my girls. Don’t they deserve a mom that is trying to be her best possible self? Would I really be a better mom if I wasn’t putting effort into my career? What example am I setting for them if I don’t pursue a passion of mine? I don’t believe that I would be a better mother or a better example to my girls if I wasn’t working. If the opposite is true, then I should not feel guilty for making some sacrifices in an effort to develop both components.
Despite numerous examples of women around me having successful careers while raising their children, I was stuck in the belief that you couldn’t have it all. That the sacrifices required to do both would be too great. That either your children or career would suffer. I have learned over the years that it is all about balance.
Finding the right balance between the two took me a while. There were times when the balance was completely off and I noticed that my family or work suffered. When I was pregnant with my second daughter I was working as the controller for a small company experiencing tremendous growth. It would have been a great opportunity for me to grow in my career, but the timing wasn’t right. I left that position and took a less stressful job that would allow me to spend the time adjusting to having two kids. Once I felt comfortable with my girls I started putting more into my career and accepted an offer to take over the management of all the accounting and finance for our companies, fulfilling a career dream of mine. Keeping the two balanced takes regular evaluations and adjustments. When I am making that effort I feel happier, more fulfilled, and more like myself. I’m so grateful that I am able to spend my days being a mom and an accountant and I know that both are integral to being Kristi.
Kristi Perley is the Director of Accounting for a group of companies, including The Dirty Dash and Color Me Rad. She holds a Masters in Accounting degree from Brigham Young University. She thoroughly believes that accountants don't have to be stuffy and boring and is working hard to change that perception. Baking and barre classes help keep her sane, while her youngest daughter works tirelessly to drive her crazy.