Jackie Hanley | Another Mother Her Way
When I first met Jackie, I was just starting work at a sister marketing company to her PR firm. That was over ten years ago but I have a crystallized memory of her being the vision of what I wanted to be in the workplace. She was super sharp and down to earth but elegant in a way that everyone respected. I was thrilled when Mother Untitled brought us back in touch as we've found ourselves in similar stages a decade later. She's since left her role as an Account Director at that prior firm and transitioned into a communications strategist at a boutique agency working from home 3 days a week. Jackie describes the transition to part-time work after having her twins prematurely, the state of motherhood with three boys - Aidan, Dominic and Liam, and the reality of self-care in a family of five.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
My path to motherhood had its fair share of challenges. I became pregnant with identical twins, put on bedrest at 16 weeks from complications and delivered two tiny, 1lb 15 oz babies at 27 weeks. It certainly rocked the motherhood ideals I had romanticized in my head! Aidan and Dominic spent 94 and 96 days in the NICU (shout out to the amazing nurses at Brigham & Women’s Hospital), and I spent that time pumping, traveling back and forth, and yearning for “normalcy” at home with my babies. Their birth, and the events leading up to it, put life in perspective. Preemies work so hard for things we don’t think twice about – every breath, every ounce of milk, every minute their eyes are open. They have a special way of reminding you not to sweat the small stuff.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
After my twins were born, I was fortunate to spend 7 months with them (3 in the NICU, 4 at home) before returning to work. Balance is important to me – especially given the uncertainties that come with preemies - so I returned in a part-time capacity. Part-time work can have its share of challenges, but it has been the best fit for me and my family. When my third son, Liam, was born two years later, I continued my part-time work at the firm, before moving on to my current firm in a similar capacity – with the added flexibility of working from my home office exclusively. I am grateful for the ability to walk my kids to school each morning and start my work day only minutes later.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Engaged, Thoughtful, Grateful.
I am trying very hard to master the art of being present, which can be challenging for a multi-tasker. Between work schedules, school schedules, and all the activities/appointments/commitments/fun that come from being a family of five, I am often thinking and planning in the “background.” Much of that is just who I am, but I try to remind myself to stay present through the cuddles, the laughs, and the tears. Motherhood puts a very raw and emotional spin on “time flies.”
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
I need to get much better at this one. I am the queen of the “one-offs” - aka busting out to the gym because I. Just. Need. A. Minute. Please. It’s a rather short-term, emergency approach to self-care. Raising 3 young boys age 6 and under is pretty all-consuming. Truthfully, it doesn’t feel natural to put myself at the top of the list. That said, I am focused on elevating my photography passion – honing my technical skills and expanding my repertoire. Time spent creatively always refills my cup. I relish dinners out with my girlfriends, which I try to commit to at least a few times per month, and grown-up-only meals with my husband. Those never seem frequent enough, but we are spending a few kid-free days away this fall to celebrate a friend’s wedding – during which time I will try very hard to quell the “mom guilt.”
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
My village is everything to me! First off, my husband. He is supportive and encouraging and works so hard for our family. My mom is an inspiration to me. She is caring and selfless and so committed to my family. She and my dad help regularly and I don’t know where I’d be without them. I am blessed to have the support of my husband’s family, our siblings and extended family near and far. And of course, my mom friends. I am lucky enough to have some amazing ones in my life who lift me up every day and love my kids like their own.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
Saying no! It has always been a weakness of mine (self-proclaimed people pleaser here), but also, I truly enjoy doing a lot of different things. It’s fun and rewarding to get involved, try new things and connect with people. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time for everything and I want my kids to get the best of me. I have to remind myself that if it doesn’t align with my priorities, I may need to think twice. I’m also working on being gentler with myself. I can put an insane amount of pressure on myself for perfection. I’m trying very hard to live and breathe the saying “done is better than perfect.” I’ll get there!