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Kate and Mike Banasiak

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chris Conetzkey, Editor of the Business Record, wrote this article on Kate and Mike. We thought Chris’ idea of a “dueling column” was a great one and the insights the article provides on managing through change would be of interest to many of our members. Enjoy!

Chris Conetzkey’s note:

Both Mike and Kate Banasiak are Forty Under 40 winners. They’ve been hopelessly involved in various young professional groups, hold or have held leadership positions in groups all over the city, donate their time to countless charitable causes, and have created their own nonprofit events. Involved is an understatement for these two. But, the Banasiaks just went through a major life change, with the birth about a year-and-a-half ago of their first child, daughter Avyn. When Mike approached me earlier this summer hoping to write a guest opinion piece for this issue of the Business Record, he was looking for guidance as to where his voice might have greatest value. I immediately tossed back the idea of dueling columns, in which he and his wife provide the mother and father view of balancing career and child. Both Mike, a financial planner at Legacy Financial Group, and Kate, president & CEO of Diversified Management Services, have continued their careers, and their columns provide a glimpse into the mindset of new parents and the challenges that highly involved couples face when two becomes three. They don’t claim to know it all, but for those career- and community- oriented couples who are contemplating having children, their columns should provide a number of starting points for an important discussion on the impact that a child could have on your lives. Thank you to both Mike and Kate for agreeing to provide an intimate look into their lives.  

Mom’s View: My new role - “Mom Bawse”
Last year, my husband and I entered into this crazy new journey called parenthood. 

I will be honest: I spent a lot of my 20s on a quest to figure out where I wanted to go and, ultimately, being a little selfish along the way. I tried out new activities, started up new events, navigated buying a business, and generally threw myself into a lot of things that were all about investing in me and my success. 

I worked hard to figure out the difference between boss Kate, friend Kate, networking Kate and wife Kate, and how on earth I was supposed to blend this all together into one person. Then, all of a sudden, I was 30ish. 

We moved my business to the ’burbs, our home to an even more family-friendly neighborhood, and we had a kid.

Suddenly, it almost felt like it did when I was fresh out of college. I was in this strange place in life, trying once again to define who I was, what success was, and how I was going to fulfill this new role that I have coined “Mom Bawse.”

I now officially stop at day care every day to pick up my daughter and continually marvel at signing on that guardian line, confirming that she is mine! She is truly the greatest joy, and the greatest challenge, of my life.

Before she was born, my mantra was, “This will not change me. I will still be ready to conquer the world.” Truth is, I was wrong. She has changed me. She has really pushed me to think hard about what my priorities are, how I define success, and what “having it all” really means.

Let’s start with priorities. First of all, I must confess I am a project-conquering, nonprofit-building, volunteer junkie. I love jumping in to help an organization bust through a roadblock or helping to figure out how implementing an idea can be obtainable. 

The good thing about this is that I’ve made a career of it by working with all of my company’s nonprofit and trade association clients. The bad thing is, this could also easily become a full-time side job. I now work hard to stop my initial gut instinct of just jumping in and doing it. Instead, I try to really think about whether or not the mission of the organization and the overall cause is something that truly lines up with my passions. 

Also, I try to think first of how it will affect my family time. When does the committee or board meet? Can I slide it in over a lunch hour or first thing in the morning? At first I thought it was going to be impossible to continue my love of involvement, but I have found there are still plenty of things with which to be involved. I just have to change the way I involve myself!

The next thing I’ve struggled with is how I now define success. As mentioned, I spent my 20s throwing myself into my career and buying my business. I would work 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then jump into whatever evening networking or volunteer work I needed to do. 

My email was always right by my side. I often worked during the weekend and I would discuss business ideas with my husband on date nights. Success to me is different now. Don’t get me wrong; taking care of the people I employ, my current clients and growth are still big priorities. I now just work really hard to figure out how I can do that between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. so I can have quality time with my husband and daughter before she heads to bed at 7 p.m. 

Things definitely don’t always move as fast, but by engaging more people to help and being patient, it just feels better!

The final thing that I have redefined for myself is what “having it all” means. Last fall, I took advantage of a grant opportunity that required some extra travel. The unfortunate trade-off was watching some of my daughter’s milestones via FaceTime. 

In contrast, this spring I chose to miss a national speaking opportunity so I could be home for her first birthday. To cover the costs of daycare, we no longer attend every single charity event. At the end of the day, though, my heart feels fuller than ever. I now have an amazing support network of moms to help me get through the daily challenges. 

I have people on my team at work, whom I may have never thought to engage before, leading initiatives. While I may not see all of my friends as much, our core group of friends has become stronger than ever. Best of all, though, my relationship with my husband and my daughter is thriving, which to me is what it means to “have it all.” 

So, for those of you thinking, “Can I be a mom, can I have a career and can I be a vital part of this community?” — the answer is YES. 

You and your partner may both have to sacrifice, you will need to re-evaluate what level of participation you value, and you must redefine success. The bottom line though, is that as long as you and your partner are supportive of each other, and you surround yourself with wonderful people who understand your goals, it will all come together. 

While my journey to becoming “Mom Bawse” is not perfect, it is still a most amazing journey and one that I wouldn’t change for the world!

Dad’s View: Oh, how life has changed
Oh, how life has changed. 

That has been a very frequent saying of mine for the last 17 months, since Avyn was born.  Every time something unexpected happens or life throws us a new curveball, that is my battle cry. 

For instance, as I’m writing this, Kate is upstairs looking up how a baby’s constipation can impact eating patterns and temperament so much that it results in epic tantrums - for the baby, that is.

Who knew? I certainly didn’t think I would.

To be completely honest, I never wanted to have a kid. I just never really had the urge, and felt that I could go through life without one and be perfectly fine. 

Kate and I married young. In fact, as of this August, we will have been married for an entire decade. For the first eight years, we chose to focus on each other, our jobs, and our personal and professional growth. We were able to experience some amazing things and be part of some great organizations. In retrospect, I think our only big regret was not traveling more.

Kate had always been passionate about having a child someday, so about three years ago we started having more serious discussions about it. It wasn’t the easiest to convince me, as you can imagine the kind of awkward brochure that would be. So you’re saying I can change poopy diapers and lose my freedom?!?! Sign me up! 

However, after a while I started to care more and more about growing our family, and so we embarked on the new adventure.

For most of my life I had FOMO (fear of missing out). I never said no and was always involved in everything that came my way. During the pregnancy though, something interesting happened. Other than having a full-time designated driver, I started using the pregnancy as an excuse to start saying no, and it felt great! 

Knowing that I would need to be more strategic with my time once our baby was here, helped me to prioritize what was really important to me, what truly mattered.

The scariest moment of the pregnancy was deciding to do a C-section after 18 hours of labor.  I remember sitting by myself in the room adjacent to the operating room where they were prepping Kate, in full medical garb, with a million thoughts running through my head. 

What had we decided to do? What if something went wrong? How the hell was I going to take care of another human being?

It was almost as scary as the ride home from the hospital, without any of the nurses who had been helping us throughout the prior days and nights. You hear about it, but it takes experiencing it to realize how terrifying it truly is. I am happy to report, though, that we made it through the C-section, made it home, and have kept her alive and well for 17 months.

Having a child DOES change you and your life. It DOES change the dynamic between you and your significant other. It DOES create time conflicts. It DOES cut into your schedule, activities and social life.

But it DOES NOT have to change your passions. It just adds one to the list and forces you to be more creative with how you balance them.

As much as I wonder, sometimes quite frequently, what life would have been like without Avyn, I truly believe that life is better off with her and that she came at a good time for me. I have been struggling a LOT lately with what my true passions are and what the next five years look like for me.

I feel like there was always a natural path laid out for me based on the activities I was involved with until now. Not only that, but there seems to be a void in Des Moines for individuals ages 35-45 when it comes to targeted groups and personal/professional growth opportunities. 

I like to call it the “lost decade.”

Add that to the fact that parenting is not easy. Actually, it’s damn hard, to the point I find myself telling people every now and then that I love Avyn, but I don’t love parenting. I have more respect than ever before for single parents and parents of twins or triplets. 

I don’t have it hard at all, and it still stresses me out on a daily basis. Sometimes I even feel that I was right from the beginning, that I wasn’t built to be a dad. But as soon as those negative thoughts enter my mind, Kate and Avyn are there, as my rocks, to bring me back to reality and continue to push and inspire me.

I want to show Avyn the world. Show her the fun, the beautiful, the scary, the courageous, the painful things in life -- not only to prepare her, but to show her everything the world has to offer for the first time. Teach her instead of shelter her. 

I believe that staying involved in the community after having a child may not be easy at all times, but it can be done and is a very good thing. I see it all the time by parents who are much more involved than me. Showing your kids that you care about your community and that they play a critical role in its future is important.

Having a child can make you well-rounded while keeping you balanced and honest to yourself and your values.

Will we have more kids? I don’t know yet, but for now I love Kate, I love Avyn, and I love Des Moines. 

I love the opportunities it’s provided for Kate and me, and I love that our Des Moines friends and family will help shape Avyn into the compassionate child and amazing woman I know she will become.

You can see the original article from Business Record here.

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