Staff Interviews – Mary Stillwell Power, Communications and Marketing Manager

March is Women’s History Month as well as National Working Mom’s Day. We asked several of our Sound Discipline colleagues to share the stories of their experiences as working moms. Thank you Mary, for sharing your story!


Why do you work in education? And/or supporting educators?

I’ve had several positions teaching adults or running support groups for adults. When I had my daughter and realized how challenging being a parent was, and how important teachers were in our lives, it inspired me to want to support the people who play such a critical role in our society. Originally I did that as a overcommitted PTA volunteer in my daughter’s school – actually I am still an overcommitted PTA volunteer. But now I also get to help support educators and other adults who work with youth by being part of an organization that creates partnerships to build equitable learning communities where everyone thrives because they know that they matter and belong.


Mary and her daughter on a recent trip to New York. Mary’s daughter prefers to not post photos, thus the emoji.

What’s it like being a working mom? How has that shifted as your child has become more independent?

When my daughter Miranda was 5 months old, I went back to work full-time. It was the worst year of my life, honestly! She was constantly sick from daycare and I was also sick, not getting any sleep, and trying to work anyway when I had used up all my PTO, feeling like I was failing at work and at home. We didn’t have family or help nearby and it was so hard. Even though I have loved all the stages from newborn to toddler to little kid, when she was little it was rough.

When she started school it was a huge relief to have a chunk of time during the day, and I went back to work full time again. I was the Program Director for PEPS, a nonprofit that convenes peer-support groups for new parents, a role I was drawn to because of my experience as a new mom. It was during that time that I started to learn about the impact childhood trauma has on our lives and how it can show up for people when they become parents themselves. This was a huge lightbulb moment for me and why I eventually applied for a job at Sound Discipline.

Now that my daughter is a teen and on the verge of driving herself to school and her activities, I am adapting to the idea that my life will change again. I have two more years with her at home before she goes to college or pursues other ambitions – likely on the east coast or in Europe. I love that she is so independent now and on the verge of living on her own, but it does bring a whole new set of worries.


How has Sound Discipline supported you to show up in both the roles of being a mom and an employee?

I cannot overstate how what I have learned here has positively impacted my relationship with my daughter and all my relationships. I started here when she was 10 and I always say it happened at just the right time.

And working from home for an organization and leadership that understands parenting demands has been a such a blessing and privilege.


What is one thing you’d tell your younger self during your (first) pregnancy knowing all that you do now?

Line up some help. Find a group of new parents to commiserate and do things with. Take as much time off work as possible. Formula is ok! Don’t pay any attention to what you think other people expect of you, focus on taking care of yourself and your baby. Have fun when possible and enjoy your time. I got so annoyed when people said, “It goes by too fast.” But as we are approaching high school graduation, I can confirm that it is SO true.


What advice do you have for other working moms?

I just have all the empathy in the world. What our culture expects of new moms and working moms is barbaric, frankly. Ignore the outside world’s expectations and focus on what feels right to you and what you can manage given your resources and support. Don’t try and do everything or expect to find the perfect balance, in my experience it just isn’t possible. But I would say to try and prioritize spending time and making memories with your kids as much as you can.

Learn as much as you can about child development, brain science, and how your own trauma and experiences have shaped you as an adult. That knowledge will help you so much to build and maintain a great relationship with your child or children.