featured image blog motherhood is valuable business experience

My most valuable and relevant work experience to own a business and help my clients succeed.

Vivid Reveal Brand Marketing Consultant, Vancouver, Camas, WA Family pics December 2019. Photo credit: Irina Negrean Photography
(Caeli's tiara was definitely not my pick.)
Meet Ella, Avery & Caeli

Today is Mother’s Day 2020. I became a mother on January 8, 2003 to Ella Korinn. My second daughter was born February 11, 2005, Avery Linnae. My third daughter was born my niece, December 2, 2014, came home as our foster child 10 days later and adopted as Caeli Song, March 1, 2017.

Epic memory: Irina Negrean Photography

What is your most valuable business experience on your resume? Would you say motherhood? In the past, I would definitely not call motherhood my most valuable experience. I’d call it a resume gap. I googled “resume gap” and one of the first hits was an article from Zety.com written on 11/26/2019 by Tom Gerencer, CPRW, a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Expert. He writes,

“Got gaps in employment? You’re probably terrified, and rightly so. Gaps on a resume are a big red flag. Without an explanation, employers may assume you’re a criminal, an alcoholic, or worse.”

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

Yikes Tom! While I may not fully agree with his fear assessment on gaps on a resume, his article is very helpful in describing tactical and honest ways to address any on your resume and in an interview. You can check it out here.

I want to talk about the 14-year “Motherhood Gap” in my resume. First, I want you to know why I consider motherhood to be the most relevant and valuable experience for my consulting business. And most importantly, my vision for the future of women, motherhood, and business.

Why motherhood is my most relevant and valuable business experience.

Every single thing that has made me a successful, resilient business owner I learned from being a mom. One of the most important things I learned is:

Love gives us courage. 

Starting a business is scary. I became a stay at home mom five weeks and six days into my six-week maternity leave. I couldn’t leave my daughter. It was as if she and I were magnets. I couldn’t physically be apart from her. The whole world existed in my little house. I believed in that moment that I decided not to go back as an executive recruiter making six figures that I would be giving up my chance for a career. I believed that I had to choose between having a career and staying home with my daughter. 

Mothers are powerful. 

We not only have the literal power of life and death over our children, we have tremendous influence on how these individual humans view themselves, their mental health, and physical wellness. And, an unexpected side-effect of motherhood, it gave me the power to heal and change myself into the person I am today, someone living my true self life, imperfectly, and courageously.

In business, I have called up on this courage many times. 

  • starting my own business
  • firing clients
  • speaking up when something didn’t align with my values
  • advocating for others
  • listening to my gut when collaborating
  • putting myself in the room even when I’m insecure
  • apologizing when I haven’t met expectations
  • battling imposter syndrome
  • overcoming perfection paralysis
  • quieting anxiety from a vulnerability hangover after posting blogs and pictures like these
  • taking criticism
  • setting my prices
  • knowing when to let go
  • just being myself in every situation

I want my daughters to experience a mother who is a strong person in life and business. I have the courage to be that person because of the love that I discovered when I became a mom.

The Easter Pajama Story

In the spring of 2007, on the night before Easter, my then four-year-old daughter Ella and I were fighting about what pajamas to wear to bed. You see, I used to be a perfectionist. I wanted her to wear the pajamas I had carefully researched and picked out for Easter morning. Not because I thought she would love them–they were actually kind of scratchy–but because they would be so cute in the pictures. (Even writing this I feel the hot burn of shame still.) 

Family pics December 2019. Photo credit: Irina Negrean Photography
(Caeli's tiara was definitely not my pick.)

Coordinated outfits from uncomfortable hair pieces on their head to impractical shoes on their toes. Perfection had a hold on me for sure as a young mom in 2005.
It gets worse. 

Ella wanted to wear her favorite, ratty, pilly, too small, Walmart, hand-me-down, jammies that she’d been wearing for the last two years straight, of course. So I say to her in my sweetest, most-manipulative mom voice, “If you don’t wear your new Easter pajamas, I guess you can’t be in the family Easter photos.”

A few minutes passes as I’m sitting on the floor folding an endless pile of laundry and a little tap on my shoulder and a quiet voice says, “Mama. I’ll wear the new Easter jammies. I want to be part of our family.” 

To this day, the memory of Ella putting aside her wants to please me and be accepted in our family is seared in my heart.

Her beautiful innocence shook me out of my selfish perfectionism. I gave her a big hug and told her that she will always be a part of our family no matter what jammies she wears, and even if she doesn’t want what I want. 

The next day I called the therapist my neighbor recommended to me. That was the beginning of a now 13 year journey into deconstructing the unhelpful survival methods I’d learned from a childhood of abuse. I was only able to recognize that I was not the mother, or person that I wanted to be because of the love of my daughters. Motherhood gave me courage and strength to take action and do whatever it took to heal, transform, and evolve.

I remembered the Easter Pajama story when…

Ella told us she was gay at 16. Avery told us at 10 that she was more than just sad, she was depressed. Caeli started refusing to sleep in her crib or a bed for three full years (she preferred the floor by her door). 

Because I took that step to go to therapy and dive into learning about cognitive behavior, psychoanalysis, and emotional intelligence, I am now a perfect mom.  I am perfectly imperfect, good enough, an apologizer, a listener who responds with empathy, vulnerable about my fears, honest about my struggles, and most importantly, I am able to let my children be themselves. 

How motherhood is valuable in my business.

Because I took that step to go to therapy and dive into learning about cognitive behavior, psychoanalysis, and emotional intelligence, I am now a perfect business woman. I am perfectly imperfect, good enough, an apologizer, a listener who responds with empathy, vulnerable about my fears, honest about my struggles, and most importantly, I am able to create a safe environment for my clients and colleagues to be their best selves in their lives and business. This is the essence of how I help people transform. 

How is this relevant to you? 

If you are a mother who is also in a career or owns a business, maybe some of this resonates in that deep dark place of mom-guilt that so many of us feel. I want you to know that I am with you. Being a mom is hard. Being in business is hard. Doing both makes you super human. Also, I want to remind you that you have a source of strength that exists within you as large as the ocean that you can tap into to do whatever it takes in your life and in your business. 

Even if you are not a mother who is in business, I want you to know that same ocean of strength lies within you too. Motherhood was the door that opened my mind to it. Something else may be your doorway. What are you most passionate about? What at the depths of your soul is the most important thing to you? Take a breath, close your eyes, envision it, her, him, them. Do you sense it? That intention and belief that nothing and no one can harm or take away that which is most precious to you, that’s the ocean. 

What about separating work and life?

I don’t know about you, but my brain does not work this way. Everything is all mixed up together like spaghetti, not separated into neat troughs like a toddler plate. The idea of separating work and life is an outdated way of trying to create something that doesn’t really exist, the work/life balance.

Instead, I find the term integration, instead of balance, to be a more accurate way to describe the dance of work and personal experiences in my life right now. If my business is aligned with my life’s purpose, there really isn’t a difference between my life and my business. I integrate everything I’ve learned from my life into my business and vice versa. You better believe I’ve used business concepts like The Global Theory of Change to help navigate conversations with teenagers. 

Annie Hieronymus, founder of Vivid Reveal. Motherhood is valuable work experience.
The day I met Caeli in the NICU, December 4, 2014. The nurses called her the “Chip Clip Baby” because one was used to clamp her umbilical cord at the apartment where she was born. My husband and I already knew we had the strength to add Caeli to our family, come what may.
My 14 years as a stay-at-home-mom is not a gap on my resume.

It’s included as experience on my website’s Home page and my About page. In conversations about my business experience with other professionals, I intentionally mention motherhood.  And, I deliberately ask other moms how their mom-skills have affected their ability to be excellent at their work. 

We can all do these things, and more. We have the power to create whatever kind of business climate we want. Some of our daughters will become mothers. Almost all will be in some form of business. It’s time to summon our courage and start including motherhood in the category of experience that is relevant in business. This is how we’ll make sure the next generation enters into a workforce where being a mother is viewed as valuable.

Working from home schooling mom life in quarantine.

Now more than ever, moms who are also in business are shouldering a heavy load during quarantine. We miss the teachers, grandmas, babysitters, aunts and uncles, play dates, sleepovers, and villages that aren’t able to be there to physically help us right now. I’d like to ask on behalf of all the moms out there for a little patience and grace. Check in on a mom in business. Send her a text. Offer a virtual happy hour or coffee date. Let her know how amazing and valuable she is to everyone in her life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Annie Hieronymus, founder of Vivid Reveal's daughters. Motherhood is valuable work experience.
Family pics December 2019. Photo credit: Irina Negrean Photography
(Caeli’s tiara was definitely not my pick.)

Does this resonate with you? I’d love to connect and hear your story. Learn more about Vivid Reveal’s menu of services that help small business owners thrive with emotional intelligence, effective communication and visual design.