Why I’m Making Work Mom Career Changes

My journey as a mother has always been intertwined with work since age 20 when I had full time work hours combined with getting my college education while being a mom to a two year old. I’ve had breaks along the way, maternity leaves and wonderful vacations, like the above picture when Miss E snapped my photo at Disney World two weeks ago. Being a working mom is a role I know, appreciate and love.

For the past nearly 10 years, I have worked and grown in a career with ample opportunities given to me by an agriculture marketing communications company, AdFarm. I have worked from our family farm, from an AdFarm office and for the past four years from my prairie home with travel across North America. I know flight schedules. I have Delta’s meal options memorized. I can pack for 1-4 nights of travel in one small carry-on. I know I love the DoubleTree’s cookies in Modesto and the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento’s warm “Welcome Katie Pinke” on my hotel room television screen.  Through my extensive travel, I have been privileged to partner with agribusinesses, associations, media, bloggers and farmers from New York to California.

Along the way I have seen a lot of animals, fields, crops and vast sectors of American agriculture. It’s truly been a life changing experience that has deepened my love for agriculture, communications, public policy and kept me awake at night about how we are going to feed the world in the future.

I have worked alongside fantastic people who have high level expertise. They are travel warriors with me. Some are in the office, in the trenches getting work done daily on behalf of our agriculture clients. I have 100 plus colleagues who I consider my friends and another few hundred industry friends I have made along the way. They impact me daily. I respect them and hold them in a high regard.

There are numerous friendships I will cherish and keep forever, thanks to the work experience I have gained from AdFarm. I am forever grateful for the 10 years I have had in this career.

But it’s been no secret that the past few years of work travel have been a grind on me. It’s not the company. It’s not the work. It’s not pressure from my family. I love my work, colleagues, clients and absolutely love the agriculture industry. I get to tell stories of how food is grown, produced and reaches our plates. 
My family has been amazingly supportive. My kids understand that “Mommy goes on the airplane for meetings.” My husband juggles schedules and always makes whatever he needs to do work. We use technology to stay in touch when I am away from home. I get up early and come home late in order to have more nights at home. We could keep on this routine for years to come if we needed to. But it has been the time away from my kids and husband that has been internally chewing at me.
This year, I knew I needed an end date to this chapter of my career. 
My husband and I have spent many late nights discussing it. Almost weekly, I would send him text messages in the midst of my travels, venting that I wish I was home, even if I was in sunny California at the time. Many times he would text me back about how cold, windy or snowy…or all three it was at home and that he wished he was with me. We would banter back and forth and in the end laugh over my whining. He would support me in any choices I made but didn’t want me to give up something I love and care about so much. It’s unique to have a company and job that you truly love combined with the family system to support a career. He warned me of what I would be giving up and there have sleepless hours I internally wrestled with this decision. 
It was my husband’s example that gave me courage to make a change. He gave up a corporate career for more family time, less pay, less corporate perks and instead decided to run his family business with his dad. I needed to figure out the best path for me to find more family time and it was an easier path to find because my husband has blazed a trail for me. 
My final decision and pivotal point was when it hit me hard that in 5 years, our son will be in college with our girls in 1st and 3rd grades. I can’t get that window back and I want to be home more for…
pre-game meals…and
the big games, even when they are tough. I don’t want to see half the big games and get text message updates on the other half of the games I am missing, even if it is cold, snowy or windy outside. I couldn’t fix this internal struggle by myself.
I learned a long time ago God always has a bigger plan. Opportunities came in play that allowed choices to be made and very quickly last week at the end of my last vacation day I had to make a decision when I received an offer for a new job.
As my mom said last week to Nathan and me, “You give up one set of challenges to take on a new set of challenges.” Last Wednesday, I decided to take on a new career, in my home state, close to my home, working in the agriculture industry which will allow many more nights at home. I will no longer watch sunrises from an airplane but instead will often see them live on the North Dakota prairie. 
It is emotional to say farewell to friends who I have worked with daily for a decade. It won’t be the same not traveling and working with them on a regular basis. I am wrapping up my work in the next couple weeks from home and will have the holidays to spend with my family before beginning my new role. It is the turning of a page for me and the end of a chapter. 
It’s a new exciting chapter that I am willing to take on for my family and for the state and industry that I truly love. North Dakota agriculture is a part of the fabric of my roots, present day and future.
As my husband shared with me over this past weekend, “You’ve said many times you want to be home to tuck the kids into bed every night. Now you will be.”
Our kids may never understand why both Mommy and Daddy quit flying weekly on airplanes to live 97 miles from a Starbuck’s, for a chapter of life on the rural North Dakota prairie. But Nathan and I have three reasons every day that remind us why change is okay and that turning the page to a new chapter has pay offs and benefits that careers and jobs can’t put a price tag on. 
We are grateful for those opportunities given to us in the past, present and future, for those that support us, challenge us and remind us daily that life would be dull if it weren’t for new chapters.

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  1. Beautifully said. We’re actually excited to have you working for North Dakota agriculture full-time!! Congrats!!

  2. Katie, I am so happy for you. In all the time I have known you, you have shown fierce loyalty and love for your family, and knowing that you’ve found a career path in the industry you love closer to the people who complete you is fantastic. I’ll miss working with you, yeah…but that just means we’ll have to make more time to talk without work as a pretense for the discussion! I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me, both through AdFarm and as a friend, and I hope this job lives up to giving you all the family time you deserve!

    Just be prepared for a 4’10”, loud, rarely-had-room-service Illinois native to show up at your corner of the prairie someday…because, let’s face it, I need my Katie fix! See ya on Twitter!

  3. oh, katie! congratulations!!! you and your family will both benefit from this new way of life!!! God bless you!

  4. Congratulations and the best of luck to you!!!! This was a great post and u love your moms comment about challenges. Happy Holidays!

  5. *I love your mom’s comment about challenges. (dang touch screen)

  6. I’m so proud of you! Let me know when you want to meet at the Capitol for a Starbucks! It will be my treat! Welcome home!

  7. Congratulations on your new path. I pray you have much success and happiness. ♥

  8. A great new adventure – what could be more fun!

  9. i couldn’t be happier for you! the Lord will reward you for making this decision! 🙂

  10. Congrats on your new job. I left my job to stay home this past summer. It took some serious convictions to leave though. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

    I wrote about those convictions here if you are bored & looking for reading material:)

  11. Best of luck to you! I hope the transition is good. Yay, for family time 🙂

  12. Like they always say, “You can take the girl out of AdFarm, but you can’t take AdFarm out of the girl.”

  13. Congratulations Katie. I envy your move back to the prairie. Maybe our lives may take us back someday too. You’ll never regret this time with your kidos. 🙂 Let’s get together soon. Let me know when you are Nathan are in town. I’d love to have dinner with you guys again. It has been way too long!!

  14. You leave no shortage of inspiration in your wake, Katie. I have a feeling that this change will look really, really good on you 🙂

    Proud and honoured to have been part of the past ten years…

  15. Congratulations Katie! You have a wonderful family and one day I hope to meet every one of them in person as I have met you….maybe a family trip out to California is in order in the future 🙂

  16. So great to hear your voice today. So proud to call you my friend!

  17. Best wishes to you Katie on your new endeavor!!!! I know that you will be glad to be with your family on a more regular basis. I share your realization that your son will be gone to college in a few years. My son is soon to be 15 and I think that same thought almost daily! Kudos to you for putting your family first.

  18. I understand how hard those decisions are. Did it myself many years back. No regrets. We are happy and lucky to have you working for ND Ag.

  19. Congrats! You will love sticking closer to home!!!

  20. This was such a great post and I can’t imagine how hard the decision must have been for you! Such an exciting new chapter in your life!

  21. Congrats on your new journey ahead 🙂

  22. Good luck!
    I’m sure you’ll be blessed by your decision.

    When I was in college, I dreamed of that high-flying busy career. But, somehow, my kids changed all that for me. And, while I could be making more money and doing stuff even more interesting than what I do (I’m not dissin’ my work in any way), it would mean missing out on more of my girls’ lives.

    So, I choose to stay put and enjoy the benefits of working for state government (mostly our time off and work flexibility!)

    We’ll have to swap business contact info–I’m one of your Midwest counterparts here in Indiana. And, I really love my job.

  23. Congrats! What a blessing to get to do what you feel is best for your family!

  24. Congratulations on this new chapter of your life! You sound happy and at peace with this decision and I wish you all the best!

  25. I am so happy for you!! I will miss you here in Sacramento, but the extra family time you will get will be amazing!! Have fun with those little ones – I hear they grow really fast!

  26. Good for you, Katie! Congratulations on the new job. North Dakota is blessed to have you. You are so right–you just don’t get that lost time back. I hope your holidays are extraordinary!

  27. Congratulations. I am one of those lurking fans that stumbled across your blog and now feel like a friend. My wife and I lived in Argusville, North Dakota for eight years and our 2 children pretty much grew up there. The we were off to Chicago where I worked for American Farm Bureau and experienced the weekly flights our of town that you have talked about. Twenty years later we happily migrated back to Minnesota and now live in a small rural town. We love it.
    I wanted to commend you on your career decision based on time with family. I recently retired (with a substantial adjustment to income)and it is allowed me so much more time to spend with family. As you know family members change so much so fast and those years go by so quickly. Enjoy your family and the North Dakota sunrises. We loved the ND prairie and the special beauty of its own that North Dakota has.
    Please keep posting your stories.

  28. I have to say you will love being closer to home and all your children’s activities. Your story has been interesting read. I am happy for you.

  29. I love this post, Katie. It it one of your finest and on my list of favorites. How amazing God’s timing to have it all come together on vacation when you had some space and time to weigh the options.

    AdFarm and your clients will miss you, but they’ll still be around I’m sure. So will I 🙂 Congratulations on your new position. So proud of you and your wise, admirable, difficult, exciting choice!

  30. I am happy for you Katie!! And I know you will not regret being there to tuck them in and cook pre-game meals…and be there for the big games. Even if you do have to drive 97 miles for a Starbucks. 🙂 Thanks for faithfully praying for us!! Now praying for you as you make this transition!

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