Service and family are the two cornerstones of Karen Anne’s life. Whether she is taking care of her two girls, teaching the next generation, or volunteering within her community, Karen Anne makes a difference through leading and guiding others. Read below to find out more about Karen Anne’s journey as a parent and why we think she’s an Awesome Mom of Huntsville!
Welcome to our series where we explore amazing local moms and their impact on our community. We’ll hear about their journeys, inspiration, advice, and snag a few gems off their playlists! Thank you to Advanced OBGYN for sponsoring Amazing Rocket City Moms.
Karen Anne’s Passions
I’m a Professor at the College of Business at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and I love my job! I feel lucky that I get paid to do what I enjoy– higher ed teaching and research. I am fortunate to work with students and focus on topics that I find mesmerizing. I research social media and corporate social responsibility. My passion is routed in my curiosity to understand human behavior. I’m fascinated with the world around me – what drives people, what brings them joy, what motivates them, and how everything influences what we consume. I think the students of Huntsville are amazing, and if I can help a student learn or grow as a person, it’s been a good day. I must admit though that it was a long journey to get here!
I worked in Corporate Marketing for Fortune 500 companies for 15 years before I finally pursued my true calling of being a Professor. Knowing the windy path that I took and the challenges in between (especially getting a PhD with 2 small children!) – makes me that much more grateful that I wake up excited everyday for either a class that I’m teaching or a research project that I’m exploring. It’s crazy but even if I won the lottery, I would still keep my job as a Professor.
Her Motherhood Journey (so far!)
I got pregnant during my husband’s last year of law school and gave birth 3 weeks before he sat for the Bar Exam – so we really started out with a bang. I had hyperemesis gravidarum during pregnancy, which means morning sickness and feeling awful for most of the 9 months. I was hospitalized, I couldn’t eat, I walked around with an IV bag of medicine attached to my leg and went to work everyday.
We were living in Miami during that time, and my husband and mom were my anchors that helped me get through the really difficult moments. When my daughter was born, I was dancing in the hallways of the hospital- the moment that she came into the world, the hyperemesis disappeared. I didn’t think we would ever have more children after that experience, but the ability of the mind to forget pain is remarkable.
When our daughter was 2 years old, we decided we wanted to have another. However, that journey was more than expected. I unfortunately endured 3 miscarriages, but luckily was able to get pregnant again with our second daughter. After baby #2 was born, we knew we were done having children. My husband had a stable job and I found myself wanting to make changes in my career. I’d always been passionate about my job but the corporate world had become further away from where I wanted to be. I had this dream of being a Professor but it never seemed like a good time to pursue it. At the end of maternity leave, I started applying for PhD programs and got accepted into a program. My husband transferred jobs, we sold our house, and relocated to Atlanta to begin another crazy journey.
A constant theme throughout my time as a mom has been the encouragement of my husband and my own mom. While most people thought I was nuts for taking on a 5-year PhD program with 2 small children, I was determined to follow my dream. It’s probably better that I didn’t know before I started the program just how difficult it would be, but truth be told, the PhD was the hardest thing I have ever done. Besides the challenge of writing a dissertation with 2 small children, the process itself is built around making you question everything, including yourself, and making you fight your way to the finish line. Midway into my graduate program, the pandemic hit. Yikes, I was working on my dissertation while creating a daily, color-coded schedule for our 2 kids doing Zoom school. People joke how it takes a village, but for us, it was a squad of friends and family who helped us survive. My mom moved to Atlanta and I don’t know how I could have finished my program without her and my husband’s unwavering support. Most days I slept 3-4 hours and learned the power of a caffeine fueled day.
We decided to move to Huntsville after I received a job offer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. And to my amazement, my mom and her fiancé (now husband named Norman) said they would move too! None of us had ever been to Alabama before, but my husband and I got engaged while living in a small studio apartment together in New York City, and we wanted to settle somewhere without crazy winters! Last month, we celebrated 1 year in Huntsville, and my daughters are doing great. This sounds cheesy – but I feel the most confident about being a mom and woman than I ever have before. Both of my girls make me so proud and I love seeing their personalities develop. Without a doubt, my greatest joy is watching my kids grow. I want to cherish every moment before they leave the nest. I don’t think I ever realized how finite childhood was until I blinked and they were already in school. .
Her Quest for Balance
I am a total planner. Every Sunday I create a schedule for the week ahead – kids activities, work schedules, doctor appointments, etc. My mom and Norman help, and it’s all hands-on deck for our weekly routine. I also do a schedule for my daughter every week to help her with school. She has some challenges with juggling classes, so we sit down and put together an excel spreadsheet that gets put on the refrigerator for the week ahead. And like most moms, I spend a lot of time in my car driving them to activities. Don’t laugh but I think cooking is probably my biggest struggle with balance. I honestly hate cooking, and while my husband shares the responsibilities, there are some nights when the CFA drive-thru is a totally acceptable dinner.
The most important thing to find balance is the ability to say no. We’re programmed as women, and worse as moms, to always want to help. But if we are always helping others, we can’t take care of ourselves. I’ve gotten better at setting boundaries. It’s okay to say no to being the room mom. It’s okay to say no to more commitments. And I always say no to something that infringes on our family Friday nights. We eat dinner together most nights during the week, but Friday nights are special in our household. Everyone shuts down at 5pm and it’s all about family time. It’s my favorite part of the week and something I look forward to.
The Superpower She Wishes She Had
The ability to control time. I would slow down the good moments. I would rush through the icky days. I’d love to see family members that have passed, but I wouldn’t want to see the future.
Karen Anne’s song picks when she needs to…
Get your Gameface on: “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie
Recover from heartbreak: Don’t Let Me Down by the Beatles
Energize yourself: Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
Let loose and have fun with your friends: my younger friends Taylor Swift, older friends definitely 90s hip hop
Do you know a local mom you think we should feature as an Amazing Rocket City Mom? We want to hear from you about her – send us your ideas and we’ll get in touch!
Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.