Betsy Parton | Another Mother, Her Way
I met Betsy Parton at the Soho House in Meatpacking and as soon as she walked in, she stood out from the black clad New Yorkers. She had the expected sophistication and smarts but layered with a genuine sunniness (she graduated from USC and I'm pretty sure that's a prerequisite). After two years in non-profit work, she did a legit ladder climb from temp worker to Global brand management at Mattel, working on the classic favorites from Barbie to Polly Pocket. But my takeaway from our time together was her ease and honesty in talking about her decision to pause that incredible career trajectory to focus on family and raise her daughter, Liv Louise. Read about how Betsy grew comfortable and confident shifting priorities from career to motherhood for this "season in her life", as she so nicely describes it.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
Becoming a mother was the craziest experience. As much as I tried to prepare during pregnancy, there was nothing that could have prepared me for the first time my daughter was laid in my arms. Not in a cliché way, but the literal weight of her body was such a sobering feeling of responsibility and love. My husband calls it “mom strength” that came to life where I ended up not needing so many of these outside resources and at the end of the day, my gut and this “strength” was already within me!
I’ve always been good with setting boundaries but now I don’t feel as guilty as I used to saying “no, thanks” to things. Whether it’s for the sake of my daughter’s schedule, protecting family time, or time with my husband, these moments are just too precious and I don’t feel bad prioritizing them. Right now our family comes first and I like that clarity.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I was very much enjoying a corporate career as a global brand manager at Mattel before becoming a mother. I actually had every intention of returning to work after maternity leave but as soon as the clock started ticking down, it became so clear in my gut that I couldn’t do it. It was scary and really hard to give up a job that I liked, my salary, and what felt like my identity. All sorts of questions and doubts flooded in but at the end of the day I just knew that a 9-5 corporate job was not going to be conducive to the type of mother I wanted to be.
On the flip side, that didn’t mean I wanted to exit the working world altogether. I’ve dabbled in some consulting projects but ultimately am still trying to find the best way to stay relevant and have creative outlets. It’s a lot easier said than done! I feel like I already left a great job for my dream job (motherhood) so if anything is going to pull me away from motherhood it had better be good! But I also know I can’t be so picky. Can you tell the struggle is real!?
Despite the mixed emotions, I have not looked back once since making my decision and would absolutely do it all over again.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Imaginative, Encouraging, Disciplinarian
I truly believe a child’s imagination is the biggest thing to waste. So it’s important to me that our daughter is able to be a kid and have fun and explore. And I want to encourage her in all of these things. My parents allowed me to try any sport, hobby, or activity that I wanted and made me feel invincible in setting out to do so. It gave me such a wealth of experience and confidence in different situations. I never want to be the thing holding my daughter back. And of course, this must all be balanced with discipline. Not in an oppressive way. The definition of discipline is actually to “train to ensure proper behavior”. I want to equip her with the knowledge of how to behave so that she can make her own sound decisions when I’m not around.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
I really wish my first answer was “working out” but it’s definitely not. I have a close group of girlfriends from all walks of life that live in Los Angeles so getting time with them feeds my soul. I’ve also really started to enjoy cooking a lot and find it to be very therapeutic. For obvious reasons, I do also want to start prioritizing working out but right now when I have a free hour in the day it just doesn’t happen to be at the top of my list and I’m ok with that because chasing around a very active toddler keeps me on my feet all day.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
Isn’t that the truth!? I have to start with my husband. He works so hard for our family so that I am able to stay home and pursue a better work situation for our family. On top of that, he is a super involved father. He gets up with our daughter every morning to hang out with her and tries to be home as often as possible for bath time. And he is my biggest supporter when it comes to motherhood as well as work.
We also have an amazing babysitter that I don’t know what I would do without. We use her for date nights or nighttime work functions for my husband and I use her a couple of times a week during the day so I can run errands or get stuff done around the house.
In addition, both of our sets of parents are very involved and remarkable grandparents. They aren’t local so we aren’t able to use them on a daily basis but we have been able to sneak away for some weekend getaways knowing our daughter is in the best of hands.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
As much as I hate to admit it I have a tendency to overreact. And there have been so many moments in motherhood where something has happened and I just want to scream or start crying on the spot. But that’s not what I want my daughter to see (obviously) so I’ve really been working on trying to take things in jest and take deep breaths before reacting.
I think every woman and especially mother can relate, but I try not to beat myself up about every little thing that goes wrong. As a mother you are so intertwined with the well being of your child that if she has a tantrum or is sad or mad I automatically think, “what did I do?” or “what should I have done differently?” Logically speaking, I know that I will not be able to protect her from every negative experience but sometimes it can be hard not to take everything personal and think it’s a reflection on something you did or didn’t do right.
I could go on but I’ll stop there and take my own advice :)