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The New J-O-B: Defined by Innovative Denver Moms

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There is something about your youngest heading off to kindergarten. It makes you feel as if you will suddenly have time on your hands. It fills your head with ideas about working out again, reading again, taking up a hobby, and of course, going back to work.

We too once wore lipstick and shoes with heels that click-clicked down long marble hallways. We used to close our office door when we needed to think. We had lunch meetings.

We strategized and launched businesses, wrote white papers and crunched numbers for annual reports. We hired and fired people who did our bidding. Despite the high heels, we climbed corporate ladders… some to glass ceilings, which we sometimes broke. We put in hours and hours at the office, with our next promotion always top of mind.

Then we took time off while our kids were young. The suits we did not donate to Goodwill are out of style and do not fit quite like they used to. The technology and business lingo we spoke has been replaced many times over. The companies we knew have merged with others, and our contact lists we saved are useless. The managers we labored for have disappeared into the mist of memory, rarely logging into LinkedIn where we have our only chance of tracking them down for a reference. Do they remember how good I was? Are they still mad at me for having kids?

More important, do I want to be that heel-clicking woman talking business, but secretly wondering if my fourth grader needs help with his homework?

My friends and I are starting to look for work. No one seems to want to go back to the same jobs we had before. We cannot imagine giving up driving on field trips. Although we complain that homework is killing us, we cannot imagine someone else being the one to sit with our kids while they do it. The thought of our kindergartener in After Care until 5 makes us secretly weep.

A wise man once told me that only when we are at the end of our rope do people get really creative. And that is what I am seeing. Strong, smart women who want to work, or need to work, or who are eager to prove their mettle in the office once again are redefining work to fit our lives.

“We’ll go back, but not the old way,” we say.

One example of the redefined working mom can be found at Canopy Advisory Group (, started by two first-time mothers who sought to add balance to their professional and personal lives. They came from the fields of management consulting and law, where they were thriving.

The more they talked to friends and former colleagues, the more they understood that a tremendous wealth of skilled professionals and experience was being left untapped – the stay-at-home mom, who had left a successful career behind her.

They began recruiting. Then with a small team of freelance lawyers, accountants, marketing consultants, event planners, graphic designers and more, they launched Canopy. Canopy’s advisors have a minimum of 6-10 years of experience. Their educational backgrounds and resumes are impressive, their references impeccable. They are no longer all moms or all women.

And as word about Canopy continues to find its way to the proverbial water cooler, then click-clicks down the marble hallways in high heel shoes to the executive suite and small business conference room, the phone at Canopy keeps ringing.

“Hello, I’m calling from [a wealth management company, an oil company, Denver Public Schools, a law firm, the Governor’s Energy Office, a foundation, a technology company, a fitness franchise]. We need an experienced [insert consultant here].”

And when Canopy founders, Brooke Borgen and Griffin O’Shaughnessy are taking those calls, the answering machine beeps…

“Hi, my youngest is starting kindergarten, and I am ready to go back to work, but this time, it’s got to be on my terms.”

Jennifer Kelly is a freelance writer and mother of three young boys. She founded Penny Jar Kids, which creates Global Giving Kits to get young children engaged in philanthropy while learning about the countries they choose to support. She also authors a parenting and education blog at jennswondering.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 25, 2013

    Love stories of moms taking action like this. Thanks!

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