March 2019 | Working Moms of Milwaukee Spotlight | Adrienne Ridgeway
Happy March! This month we're spotlighting breast cancer survivor and local mom, Adrienne Ridgeway, of Marquette University. Read more about this incredible mom in our exclusive interview!
Please tell us your Name / Employer / Profession(s):
Adrienne Ridgeway. I work at Marquette University in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. I am the Executive Associate Athletics Director for Academic Services and Student Programs. In my role, I provide oversight and direction for the academic support and student-athlete development programs for student athletes at Marquette University. And serve as the Sport Administrator for the track and field and cross-country programs.
Number of Kids and names and ages
Brooke (7-Second Grade)
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
My daughter who is in second grade signed up for her school’s talent show, and unbeknownst to me, she choreographed a dance for her and her friends that they performed at the talent show. She had no fear in leading and performing in front of her entire school. It is something small but significant, because as a mom of a girl, I am always hoping that I am raising her to be confident, strong, and fearless.
What do you like best about your job?
I LOVE MY JOB!!! I love watching the development and maturation of student-athletes who arrive as yielding and uncertain young people and leave as confident and prepared young adults ready to be a difference maker in the world. No matter how many amazing athletic competitions I can watch because of my job, from watching teams earn Big East titles to watching the Men’s basketball team compete in the NCAA Elite Eight, the best part of my job is still watching young men and women earn their degrees.
What's the hardest part of being a working mom?
The hardest part of being a working mom is often feeling like you are not spending enough time at home, especially weeknights. I feel like by the time I pick my daughter up from after school care by 6 pm, get home, do homework and prepare for the next day, its bedtime for my daughter and I have barely had time to spend some quality time with her. So, this makes us live for the weekend and really appreciate the time we do get to spend together as a family.
We understand that you're a cancer survivor. Could you tell us about that?
I was diagnosed just over four years ago with triple negative breast cancer. I was in my early 30’s and had no family history of cancer, so I was stunned to say the least. The positive is that I found the lump myself and I was able to catch it before it progressed. This was a very challenging time for me as a mom of a then three-year-old, but with the support of family and friends I made it through. I went through a very rough time, with chemotherapy and surgery, but I am blessed to now be on the other side of it and feeling good and with no signs of cancer today. The experience of dealing with cancer has turned me into an advocate for women’s health and I have been very open about my experience. I hope that now I am a testament to some women diagnosed with cancer at a young age, that there is life after cancer.
What can other moms do to be proactive and take precautions in terms of their health?
I encourage all women, regardless of age, ethnicity, or family history, to do self-breast exams monthly, to get a yearly physical, and to follow your intuition regarding your health. I also encourage women to exercise and eat right. I do believe already being in relatively good health prior to my diagnosis helped me get through treatment.
How did you balance motherhood, work and doctors’ appointments?
I didn’t always balance these three things well (I am kidding at the same time as being serious). Sometimes I made and still make, epic mom fails. Yes, I am the mom who a time or two have forgotten that it is a dress up day at school. Like on a Packers Day at my daughter’s school, I forgot, and I sent my kid in her school uniform……those days happen, but I try to use it as a moment to explain to my daughter that sometimes even mom’s make mistakes. I own the mistake and tell her I will do better (It helps in those moments to have mom friends who text you and say no worries I forgot today as well). As I was in treatment, I had to develop a family calendar that I could add appointments to so that everyone was aware of what my schedule was relative to treatment (I even shared the calendar with my parents, mother-in-law and sister). Now my family lives by an Outlook family calendar and with our busy schedules it really helps to put everything on a calendar and then we color code each event to determine who the event is for and add notes about what needs to be done for each activity or event. This is especially helpful with me traveling for work almost weekly at times.
I also must do more multi-tasking to be able to balance everything……. I do most of the morning drop-offs and we have about a 30 min drive, so I use that time to be productive and a lot of mornings I have my daughter read to me. It is my “mom hack” of getting homework done while giving us a chance to share in a chapter book that we can then talk about.
Do you have any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms and learning how to navigate this new world?
You will make mistakes and you will have days that you question if what you are doing what is best for your kids. I think this is natural and we should as moms always stop to reflect on what is best for ourselves and for our kids but know that as much as it is good to be at home and tending to home, it is equally important for children to see mom, pursing her passions and dreams, making a difference and just thriving.
Do you have a favorite MKE restaurant/store/hangout?
As a mom who appreciates some peace but doesn’t mind multitasking…My go to is Target! I always spend way too much money, but I love to go to a Target store that has a Starbucks. I get my coffee and walk the aisles…I really believe that for me the half-hour of thoughtless browsing is therapeutic. On a work day when I need a quick pick me up in the morning, I love to make a stop at Urban Beets Café and Juicery on MLK for a smoothie. They have a smoothie called The Coffee One and it is amazing if you love expresso.
What makes your family unique?
My husband and I both have careers in sports/athletics, so, I think it makes us a little unique that a lot of our family time is centered around sports and sporting events. As a family we usually can be found taking in some sort of game, and if we are not at a game, we, including my 7-year-old, are tuned into a game snuggled up on our sofa. We embrace the chaos of our professional lives in sports and try to find opportunities for us to blend family time with work. As a high school athletic director, my husband works most Friday nights, so my daughter and I have a lot of mommy daughter diner dates and then we go to his high school games where we then get to spend a little time watching daddy work and supporting him. For some this may sound like and awful Friday night, but for us it is life.
What (in your opinion) is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
Because we have had such bad weather this winter season and so many days of school closures, it has illuminated for me the fact that for working moms (and dads) there are few options for places to send your school aged kids on days that school is closed. I am a mom that no longer has a regular day care provider, so on the closure days we stayed home, or my parents were available. I am blessed to have some flexibility and family support, but for parents who needed to work on those days and don’t have family near, they have few options.
Are you going to do anything special for International Women's Day (March 8th)?
Nothing specific, but as a professional woman in a male dominated industry, I am very lucky that I get to lead a very fierce, all female staff, who each have significant accomplishments, so we get to celebrate one another often. I think I will use IWD as an opportunity to promote this year’s campaign of #BalanceforBetter and use social media to post my #IWD2019message with my "hands out" balance pose for a call-to-action for others to help drive a gender balance in all industries.
Do you have any plans for spring break this year?
Yes, kind of. My husband, my daughter and I all have different weeks for spring break this year. So, for Marquette’s Spring Break I will be working and traveling to the Big East basketball tournament in NYC. I think, as a family, we will travel for Easter. My husband’s grandfather lives in Alabama and his family has a family reunion each Easter there. I think we will visit with him in Alabama and then drive and spend a few days in Atlanta for her Spring Break touring and having fun.