November 2012 Profile: Kathryn Rose
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
RESIDENCE: Boston, MA
CHILDREN: L.J. 4, Lorelei 7 months
PROFESSION: In September 2007, I was a successful Wall Street salesperson awaiting the birth of my first child. I, like many women I know, waited until later in life to have a child, to give my career a chance to take hold and be financially stable and independent. My parents were thrilled because, while they had two other grandchildren, they were grown, and nothing gets parents more excited than a new baby. They were both retired and offered to help care for my son a couple of days a week. My mom is a nurse, and I always looked to her for guidance. Then, like a bad dream, everything went terribly wrong. Three days before my baby shower, my mother had a massive brain aneurysm, and we did not know if she was going to live. I spent days/nights and countless hours in the car back and forth to the hospital praying she would come out of it.
The following month in October, the mortgage market melted down. My division was essentially eliminated overnight. The 13 weeks of maternity leave I was counting on was gone. I had no job, no childcare, my mother was recuperating from her brain injury, and I was completely terrified. I often joked that it was like a bad country song, all I needed was for my truck to break down and my dog to run away, and I’d have a huge Nashville hit!
I often tell the story when I’m out speaking that I was quite literally barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen on the phone with my husband telling him I just lost my job. He said, “well, you like to learn new things, go learn something new!” “Didn’t you always say you should have your real estate license? Isn’t there a real estate school down the street, go take the class.” So I waddled in at 8 ½ months pregnant and began taking real estate licensing classes. He knew I needed to be occupied, and I knew I needed a distraction from the craziness that all of a sudden surrounded me.
In the months and years that followed, I did what I knew best, I sold. I sold myself to my old clients as a marketing and sales consultant. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a stretch for them to believe it. I had worked on some marketing projects for my clients in the past since I was an extremely successful mortgage originator back in the day, and I also trained their sales people. Also, I find in life that when you focus on building relationships, not a pipeline, and act with integrity and always deliver or, over deliver, on what you promise, people tend to trust you. So when I showed up, baby in tow, and said I was opening a consulting business and would love for them to hire me for some projects, they did. I was also invited to teach mortgage classes part time at the real estate school so I did that as well.
I was determined that my son see his mom get up and keep going. Things in life don’t always work the way we want them to, but sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves doesn’t help. You pick up and move on. Being a stay-at-home mom simply was not an option, so I worked with him and some childcare.
Quickly, I realized that in order to make the biggest impact marketing for my clients, whose businesses and reputations took a beating because they were looked at as the cause of all of the financial crisis, that traditional marketing and advertising wasn’t going to work. Potential customers would not only need to find my clients through internet searches, but they had to learn to trust them and the best way was through blogging, customer testimonials and social media.
The problem was that while I could spell “Google” and knew how to use it for searches, I had no idea how websites ranked or how social media, which was VERY new, could help.
So, I did what I knew how to do, I Googled and found someone to teach me the ropes. I found a great young guy who taught me everything he knew. He gave me homework and reading assignments and I worked hard and lo and behold people were hiring me for search engine optimization projects left and right. I was so busy that I didn’t even have time to set up my OWN website. See what I mean about building relationships and a business with integrity? I was hired for web projects and I didn’t even have my own website!
Since that time on the business side, I worked very hard, at night and on the weekends, to build my business, I wrote eight books on Social Media and online marketing for business and consumers including the Parent’s and Teens Guide to Facebook. My last one, Solving the Social Media Puzzle went bestseller on Amazon. My website is http://katroseconsulting.com.
During all of this, I suffered through a failed business partnership and miscarriage in 2009 at 22 weeks. It was devastating, and I’m still affected by it. One of the things that amazes me is that people don’t talk about miscarriages. They hide it as if it was their fault.
We made a decision that we were going to stop trying when I hit 42. My son was going to be four and for me, I had to draw a line in the sand. I needed to be able to move forward if I wasn’t blessed with another child. Miraculously, I found out six weeks before I turned 42 that I was pregnant and now have a beautiful little girl as well.
What led you to become a later in life mother? What do you see as the positives and challenges of becoming a 35+ mom?
Being an older mom, you have some challenges. You’re not as young and energetic as you used to be, the baby weight seems to linger and the fact that there is a bit of a stigma still attached. When I had my son, I was in the NY area, and my doctor had had her twins when she was 45. Most of my friends were as old if not older than I. When I moved to the Boston area, I heard over and over again at my doctor’s appointments about my “AMA” I said, “American Medical Association”? They said “No, advanced maternal age.” Wow I felt old, in fact, one of my charts actually labeled me as “Geriatric” WHAT???
Has anything about being a mother surprised you?
My kids surprise me every day. They are happy and healthy and have a great attitude toward life. We try to instill manners, and gratitude and all the things you want your children to have.
I was most surprised by the absolute visceral reaction I had when I first heard my son cry in pain. It was nothing serious thank goodness and I am usually pretty calm in most stressful situations, but I almost lost my mind the first time I heard that cry. It still happens.
I want to teach them that everyone is different yet the same. We all have things going on in our lives, and we need to have compassion and understanding. We help our friends and our neighbors, we say please and thank you, and most of all, we face problems head on and figure out how to deal with them and then move on.
Do you find the balance between work and parenting challenging?
I find it unreal that still in the year 2012 we talk about “balance”. It has been proven over and over that you can’t fully focus on two things. That being said, I don’t look at it as balancing. My contracts are written with a “kid clause” in there meaning that I am a mother first and if for some reason one of my children is sick or needs to be picked up from school early, I will reschedule, and my clients need to be okay with that. I am totally upfront about my status as a mother. I will complete their projects at 2 in the morning if that is what it takes, but I feel that my children didn’t ask to be born. The least I can offer them is my time and attention when they need it.
Do you have any advice for midlife moms contemplating pursuing part time work or re-entering the workforce?
Learn skills, use Google, YouTube…etc… and keep up your skills in whatever profession you want to pursue. Be honest with yourselves that it will NOT be the same as before. Ask questions of people who hire for the positions you may want to look for and see what skills they require, and go learn those. Use LinkedIn and Monster.com, and look at job descriptions. There are lots of communities for moms who are looking to go back to work. Find one, and join it. These are moms who want to support each other. Momcorps.com is another place to look for part time opportunities.
What influence, if any, have your parents had in your life and in your parenting?
I was fortunate that I had the benefit of knowing my parents as an adult. One of the things I’ve learned from them is to be positive and grateful. My mom is the queen of the thank you notes. And even through all the adversity they’ve suffered – my mom survived the aneurysm, but it left her paralyzed. This is a woman who hiked the Appalachian Tail. It is devastating, but they are always saying “The good news is…” That was my lesson growing up. Bad things happen, but it’s how you deal with them that sets you apart. I also learned humility. My parents were NOT perfect, and they know it. There have been some apologies exchanged for some missteps. I apologize to my kids when I make a mistake. And they ALWAYS say I Love You. I tell my kids every day that I love them.
Where do you turn for support as a mom?
I turn for support to my friends and my family, and organizations like Motherhood Later offer a community of like-minded people. No judging…only support….as we all experience similar challenges.
When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other parents?
My dad said that you will never be perfect, and your kids will never be perfect, but if you show up in the good times and bad ready to give your love, time and attention, you can handle anything. They won’t remember the toy they didn’t get for their birthday but they will remember the soccer game you missed. Just show up.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent later in life?
It will never be the right time. You made the decisions you did because of what was right for you. Don’t worry that you’re too old, worry that you have enough time. Time is our enemy especially if we have stressful jobs. Take the time to spend with your kids. When I first started my business, I tried so hard to rush and work hard to get back to the income level I had when I was on Wall Street. But I learned a lesson from my kids — that my kids don’t care how big our house is or if we drive fancy cars. They care that I have play dates and can be there at their soccer games. For Lorelei, I keep her home most mornings with me instead of sending her to daycare, to save on the expense and also spend more time with her. Do whatever is right for you, but show up!