Meet today’s working Smarty Mom, Susan Bowman. Wife to Doug for 10 years and supermommy to Ella James (4), Clay (16 months), Georgia the border collie mix (11) and Gordy the betta fish, (16 months), Susan is a bank mom who has dedicated her career to Wachovia for 13 years. She currently is pretty close to having the best of both worlds since she job shares which means she works Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week and her job share partner works Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This sounds like the high life for sure, let’s get to know Susan!
How do you find the balance between your banking career, taking care of your two children and running a household?
#1: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe
This is my favorite quote. I try to reset the meter every day and view each day as a new opportunity to “start where I am, use what I have and do what I can.” Keeping a running tally of the number of times you didn’t exercise this week or the number of dinners you did not cook or the number of weeks you’ve missed church…it all takes a toll on your mind. You can (and must!) start today. The past doesn’t have to define your future.
#2: *Must* have a sense of humor. Anger makes you old, sick and ugly. Thank goodness my husband is the funniest person I know.
#3: Outlook calendar invites. Another couple introduced this to us. Doug and I are on Outlook at work so we send each other “meeting invites” for all social engagements. We always know what dates we have “open” socially, where I’m traveling and who is on kid duty any given night if one of us has after work plans.
What is the thing you like most and least about being a working mom?
Most – I believe that we, as Moms, can have it all but not at the same time. (although, I run myself ragged trying to have it all) Having a part time schedule is the closest I’ve come to “having it all”. Working outside the home keeps my business skills sharp and relevant. Being at home on Thursdays and Fridays is a true privilege for me. Experiencing the small joys like taking my daughter to dance and seeing the look on her face is heaven and something I would not be able to do if I worked full time. I am able to schedule the kids’ activities on week days and keep Saturdays open for family time.
Least – Living life as a double agent is challenging. I have a Business Mouse persona and a Mommy Mouse persona. My SAHM friends would not recognize me in the office! Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m taken seriously in either of my “worlds” and someone is always getting short shrift. However, the older I get the less I care and try to remind myself “girl, you’ve got it good.”
What tips do you have for other working moms out there?
Priorities, priorities, priorities. Be clear about them and draw boundaries around them. Make your choices, own your choices and be proud of them. Also, you have to accept the trade-offs that choices bring. (this is why it’s a choice!) I’ve had some opportunities to ascend higher professionally and take on senior leadership roles but it was easy for me to turn them down because the opportunity conflicted with my priorities in life – be a kick-ass wife, a devoted mom and give back to my community. Making a contribution professionally and growing that part of me is in my top 5 but I can do that in the way that I define and not how someone else (my job, my boss, my employer, etc.) defines it for me. That being said, if I’m going to be convicted about my priorities then I better “bring it” when I am at work.
What are your favorite digs to score kids clothes & shoes?
Boden is my favorite for Ella James. Sturdy yet stylish! No sales tax so you’re saving right there. They have the best “specials” – recently they had free shipping, free returns and an extra 20% off – combine that with no sales tax and not driving anywhere…who can beat it? All of Clay’s clothes are hand-me-downs from my dear friend in Atlanta. She has 2 boys and has furnished all of Clay’s clothes – head to toe. I haven’t even bought the kid a pair of socks. If you have access to this kind of arrangement, do it. I owe her dearly.
What is your favorite family time activity?
The pool! We love to hang at the pool as a family. Last summer, Clay was 3 months old when pool season hit and neither mommy nor baby was pool ready.
What is your favorite mommy-time activity?
I’m a sucker for any kind of “GNO” and the activity is irrelevant. I’m in it for the camaraderie. I pine for the GNO’s distant cousin, the annual Girls’ Weekend, but this one’s been harder to plan as of late.
What is your favorite lunch spot sans kids?
Basil Thai Restaurant (sibling location in Charleston)
What is your favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Brixx Fairview for sure! We keep waiting to see a kid fall into the fountain – hopefully not ours – and it hasn’t happened yet.
What is your best book you’ve read lately?
Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
What is your best movie?
The Wizard of Oz
I have so many memories from this movie (like not being able to sleep for days because of those flying monkeys). I love Judy Garland’s character – so pure and innocent and what a great leader – and the music is phenomenal. I get so nostalgic! We recently watched it with Ella James and she loved it. She self professes: “I love scary stuff”.
What is the funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
Ella James: Mommy since you were fighting with Daddy this morning you are not getting any babysitting money.
What is your best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
For Ella James’ 3rd birthday party, we had an owl themed party at our house. We hired the Carolina Raptor Center, who brought 2 owls and a red tail hawk. They did an awesome presentation for the kids and let them get up close and personal with the birds. We also had an owl craft and had tables setup where the kids made owl puppets.
What is your favorite date-night spot?
Good Food on Montford
What is your best summer tip to hang with your kids?
Get out of your house. There are tons of free things to do. Here are my faves – library, Latta Park spray ground, Fish Fountain at The Green Uptown, bumming off my friends who have Discovery Place memberships, the pool (bum off your friends who have pool memberships), playdate co-op (find 3 friends and the 4 of you map out weekly or 2x a month and each takes turns hosting – free and different because your kids think it’s cool to go to someone else’s house)
Minivan or SUV?
I secretly covet the minivan. Everytime I see one, I start salivating. They are so dang awesome. After Clay was born, I got the wagon. The issue for us isn’t cargo space but having space for other kids. Now, we need space for an additional 2 kids so that we can carpool to activities and summer camps and pre-school. Carpool is the working mom’s best friend! We need the 3rd row but it has to be accessible without moving the seats due to car seats on the 2nd row. My husband is pushing the CUV (cross over utility vehicle).
What is your favorite phone app?
The alarm feature on my Blackberry – I don’t trust hotel alarm clocks when traveling for business and I can’t rely on my kids to get me up
What is your favorite CSP article so far?
I have gleaned so much from CSP – pediatric dentist, swim lessons, dance lessons, dinner help, gift ideas and on and on. It is a one stop shopping experience for me. Recently, CSP landed on the ‘blocked’ list at the office so I can’t access at the office anymore. This has really tortured me.
The individual blogs are fabulous and so many have spoken to me. Truth be told, I love anything about The Plym Kids. They should write their own blog.
What is your best kept secret in Charlotte?
The library…I haven’t purchased a book for myself in many years. I order ‘em up online at the library and when my number comes up, they email me. It is the bomb!
What is your I could not live without my…
My company does not support the iPhone so I remain in the dark ages according to my iPhone friends. My life as a double agent would not be possible without my beloved Blackberry. It is the keeper of my grocery list, Target list, Costco list, books I should read, birthday present ideas, work calendar, social calendar, kids’ calendar, contact info (especially babysitters), birthdays, etc.
Thanks, super Smarty Susan! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a Smarty Mom OR Dad to nominate!