Becky White: Losing Your Identity & Finding Yourself in Motherhood
As a high profile marketing exec, Becky White feared that she would lose her entire identity when she transitioned to a role that gave her more time with her then 6 month old baby and three older children. “And to be honest,” she says, “most of those things probably did happen.” Matrescence’s Marketing Director gives us some insight on what she lost, while at the same time offering an inspiring perspective on all that she gained as she embraces this new stage in her life.
Becky, tell us a little about you:
Like so many of us, I’m a wife, mom, marketer, homeroom parent, yearbook advisor, community volunteer … the list goes on and on! My path was very similar to many of the moms we speak with in the Matrescence community. I worked full-time outside the home in marketing for over 20 years. Early last year, my son was about 6 months old and my husband and I decided that it was a good time (if there ever is a good time!) to hit pause on my career to focus full-time on my family. Our family includes 4 kids (2 bio, 2 bonus), 2 dogs, and countless soccer games. I now fill my days with the kids, Matrescence, and a ton of volunteering in the kids’ schools and with local organizations.
While I was elated to have the opportunity to make such a decision, I was also terrified. I was afraid of losing ‘my place in line’ in my career, I was afraid of losing my financial independence, and I was afraid of losing my identity. And to be honest, most of those things probably did happen.
While I have no concrete evidence that I did lose my place in line, the widespread adoption of remote work combined with end-of-2022 layoffs at a number of elite companies made the playing field far more competitive. The number of applicants for senior- and executive-level positions in my field often number in the thousands. I’m not kidding. I recently reviewed a job posting for a VP of Marketing that basically had my name written on it, and then saw that – according to LinkedIn – there were already 1700 applicants for the position. The competition is fierce and, in all honesty, I still worry that my “time at home” gap will affect me negatively when (if?) I am ready to jump back in full-time.
Then came my financial independence. I am thrilled to have found the Matrescence team and so fortunate to work on a brand that I feel so passionately about, but hitting pause on my full-time career also meant hitting pause on my salary, 401k, and benefits. I went from bringing home my own paycheck and contributing to our joint “expenses” account to doing the exact opposite – supplementing what I make part-time with funds from the joint account to cover my personal expenditures. Previously I wouldn’t have blinked an eye when deciding to “splurge” on hair, nails, or a new outfit. Now, I’m filled with internal guilt for pulling from the house kitty. And to be clear, this is my guilt alone; my husband has never once questioned an expenditure or not supported a purchase.
My identity was tied to my role as a career woman. I wore dresses and makeup and had business cards and a laptop tote bag and a parking lease and a several million dollar marketing budget and direct reports and … now I have 4 little humans that report to me. But, let’s be real, they don’t listen, I wear leggings and a sweatshirt almost every day, and I have a mom tote bag in which you’ll find animal crackers, socks, a sippy cup, a toy truck, and credit cards just loosely flying about. That career woman identity is long gone …
And so it went in 2022, the year in which I stopped being the full-time working mama version of me. And the year in which all of those fears of mine were realized.
You’ve said that despite your losses, you found a new version of yourself. How so?
I did. Despite all of that, 2022 was also the year that I got to embrace the full-time mama version of myself, spend time doing nothing but playing with my toddler, and transferring all of the management and marketing skills I honed over 20 years into new roles that I am -- honestly -- much more passionate about than I ever was my full-time gig. I have become involved with the PTA, I'm serving on the board of an organization focused on promoting social-emotional learning in elementary schools, and of course, I'm focused on helping to grow Matrescence alongside our kick-ass, all-mom team. My son got a nasty cold in September and I was able to spend 2 days with him on the couch snuggled under a blanket, holding him while he slept -- I could have never done that a year ago. Those moments, these things, have been rewarding in a way that no corporate accolade ever could be.
Last night my husband casually mentioned that it’s been almost a year since I quit working full-time. For the first time in that year, my mind didn’t immediately jump to needing to get back on that hamster wheel. Instead, I thought about what I needed to accomplish for my family this week and what to-dos I would be tackling with Matrescence. And I felt satisfied and not stressed and like me again – albeit a refined version of myself.
Do you make resolutions? Why or why not?
I do not. A resolution seems very short-term to me, and kind of a one-off. Instead I treat this time of year like a year-end post-mortem and annual planning session – what did I accomplish last year that I would like to continue? Where did I fall short that I need to improve upon? What new goals would I like to accomplish in the coming year? Each year should build upon the last, keeping the good, releasing the not-so-good, focusing on new achievements.
What is your word for the new year and how did you come to it?
This year is the first year I’m trying this word thing, thanks to the other Matrescence team members! I think I’ve settled on “Growth.” This year I want to challenge myself to grow as a wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter, and co-worker. And that can mean lots of things – working on my patience with my family, working on my communications with my friends, working on my role as a teammate to my co-workers. Ultimately, “growth” can even be my barometer for decision-making; does this help me to grow or hinder my growth?
How does Matrescence’s Mission resonate with you as a mom? As a business owner? As it relates to your word?
I bought into the idea of Matrescence the minute I spoke with our Founder, Raquel Nowak, in late 2021. She has so perfectly captured the feelings every mom I know has around this transition into motherhood; the fear, the loathing, the joy, the elation, the exhaustion. And with Matrescence, we are building this community of moms who can rally around the fact that we believe you need to mother yourself before you can tend to your flock. We live and breathe this mantra – mothering the mother – day in and day out with the support, the community, and ultimately the tools you can use to take care of yourself, i.e., our skincare rituals .
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a mom?
I wish I would have known that I would never be alone again. Truly. There is always a little person who needs something. And even if I physically get a break from my kiddos, like a night away, they still permeate my thoughts and my plans. The minute the first kid arrived 8 years ago it ceased to be just about me and my wants and whims.
What’s the biggest thing you want other moms to gain from Matrescence?
That you have to advocate for yourself and your mental health. You need to take a break if you are reaching your limit. You need to ask for help if you find yourself stressed out. You need to stop scrolling social and comparing yourself to influencer mamas, because they likely have LOADS of help behind the scenes. You need to mother yourself to be the best mother to everyone else. Oh, and we really are all in this together.
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