The Motherhood Series: Motherhood and Networking

In late June, a sweet conversation between myself and my eight-year-old daughter morphed into a blog post entitled Motherhood and Discipleship. Several conversations with women from various seasons of life later, and we find ourselves on the cusp of The Motherhood Series.

That is why, today, we are in for a special treat! I had the great honor of interviewing a woman and mother I have respected and admired from afar (and up close) for a little while now. She is none other than Rhonda Ryan…mommy of one, homeschooler extraordinaire and all around great person. She may not know it, but as the creator of the African American Homeschoolers of Philadelphia Facebook Group, Rhonda has been instrumental in my life in creating a warm and welcoming online space for me to connect with other moms. Many of these relationships have spilled into meaningful “sisterships” in real life! So for that, I must say, “Thank you, Rhonda!”

We’ll hear from Rhonda now, as we discuss the topic of Motherhood and Networking!

How would you describe life prior to motherhood? 
 I thought I was very, very, very, busy prior to motherhood. I had no idea about the energy and time constraints that appear when your name changes to “Mom”.  Working as a PR Liaison, freelancing as a PR rep/social media manager for local artists, did in all actuality keep me pretty busy. I didn’t have a bustling social life to speak of. By that time, I was in my late thirties and I honestly had about four friends that I made time for…except for business events and family (I have a great family – they’re the kind of people who stop by with food to put in your freezer for the week!)…

I’d become a home body.

When I wasn’t working I binge watched Boardwalk Empire and ordered take-out (usually a vegan curry from Desi Village). I’d fallen in love with a man who had similar entrepreneurial ambitions, similar politics, we both loved Indian food…flea marketing, football and we have a similar quirky sense of humor. I thought I knew stress because I complained about the train being late, agonized over making my next deadline, counted the exhausting micro aggressions I endured in a day…screamed at the politicians every Sunday on Meet the Press…

I thought that was stressful.

I had no idea that a teething baby could make all that look like a walk in the park. 

Since becoming a mother, what does your work/life balance look like?
Work/life balance? That cracks me up. Right now, I’m working part time as a production assistant for a jewelry company, which is doable until you add it to your full time homeschooling mom duties. It’s not uncommon to go to bed at 3am multiple times per week. Whadyagonnado? It’s never really balanced. I come from women who put the children first always and forever…

It’s not a habit I want to destroy all together, but it does need some modifications. I’m working on it.

What’s been your biggest surprise in trying to balance motherhood and work?
I was sooooo surprised at how natural it felt to be less concerned with the “striving for more” aspect of work. I’m as ambitious as I’ve ever been, I still have a few projects warming on the stove, but now work revolves around my homeschooling mom schedule. If you told me ten years ago that I would want to/need to work part time to homeschool, I would have laughed hysterically, blessed your heart and went right back to work. 

How does networking shape your ability to achieve your goals in motherhood and/or your career?
 In motherhood its EVERYTHING! My network is headed by my mother, aunties and cousins…but belonging to African American Homeschoolers in Philadelphia?! Now that has become the key to my sanity and success, there’s always a person in the group who can meet up for a playdate, tell you what curriculums and teachers worked for their families, who shares a recipe that gets you through another dinner that I was woefully unprepared for, who knows that those are your kid’s swim goggles laying out in the parking lot again and picks them up for you, shows you where to get the affordable school supplies…who listens.

In my network of homeschooling moms, I can always, always, always depend upon an open heart and a sympathetic ear when I need one. And as far as my work life goes? Having a group of women living under similar circumstances is invaluable…that mentorship through example, being a phone call, a text away? What?! I am eternally grateful. 

What’s the one thing you would change about being a working mom? 
My family is so understanding when I HAVE to shut the door and work, but…I know that as each year passes it gets harder and harder to swing him up on my hip…and they’re only little for such a short time. And as much as we need the money (homeschooling is a lot of things but it ain’t cheap) and I love having the time to focus on something other than mothering. I haven’t quite learned how to not feel a twang of guilt when I have to choose work over a rousing Roblox obstacle course.  

Rhonda’s beautiful family!

Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your unique insight into your motherhood journey!

Thanks for reading folks! If you enjoyed today’s chat with Rhonda, show her some love in the comments and meet us back here real soon for Part 2 of The Motherhood Series!



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