Kristin Streeper: A Detour on the Career Path
Kristin Streeper began her career as a woman on a mission. Literally. This mom of two small children in Leland was once responsible for delivering explosives to troops and refueling ships around the world. Many could argue that her former career prepared her for what was to come as a mother — explosions of many kinds and non-stop fueling of the (tiny) troops.
“I always knew I wanted to be a mother,” says Kristin. “I just didn’t know it would happen so fast!”
After graduating from high school Kristin knew exactly what she wanted to do. She attended New York Maritime College, where she met her husband, Adam.
“I had a class during my junior year where we had assignments that required us to spend several days at a time in the library with a project partner,” she explains. “Adam was my partner. And he was wild. I told my instructor that I couldn’t work with this guy because he was just crazy and I wanted to get a good grade. My teacher said, ‘You can’t choose who you work with on a ship either.’ So I stuck with him and found out that he was actually really smart. One thing led to another and I soon realized that I wanted to marry him!”
Kristin and Adam dated through their junior and senior years of college and, upon graduation, served at sea for one year before they married. Kristin then worked two more years, bringing explosives to active troops and refueling navy ships around Australia, Europe and Asia, before she found out that she was pregnant.
“I got really sea sick,” says Kristin, “and I knew something was up.”
Kristin’s goal as long as she can remember was to climb her way up through the ranks in the Navy and work for several years before she entered the world of motherhood.
“Women in this industry don’t last too long because most of them want to have children,” explains Kristin. “And you can’t manage a family when you are away at sea for several months out of the year. So when you have kids, you know that your career at sea comes to a standstill.”
Navigating off course
Kristin and Adam welcomed their son, Matthew, just three years into her career. Kristin set sail in her new role as a stay-at-home mom, and Adam was presented with an opportunity to settle in the States. Or so they thought.
“My husband got a job with the government in North Carolina, and since we had just had Matthew, we were excited that the position would allow him to be home a lot more,” Kristin says. “But then his company moved overseas and now he works out of Turkey.”
As a merchant marine officer, Adam works what some would consider a very difficult schedule: traveling overseas for four weeks and then returning home for three weeks. Understanding that many in this industry are away for months at a time, Kristin appreciates his schedule.
Now with two children, Matthew, 4, and Nicholina, 16 months, Kristin is settled in their home in Leland’s Grayson Park, acting as a single mother for seven months out of the year. But in speaking with this high-energy mom, you would never sense a bit of struggle.
“I love being there to see them laugh,” she says, “to play with them, to get the hugs, to watch them develop and grow.”
With Adam’s on-again-off-again schedule, he misses some of these special moments and holidays, but the family always accommodates his schedule to maximize family time.
“Last year we celebrated Christmas three weeks early,” says Kristin. “It doesn’t matter what day it is, it’s just the idea of being with family to celebrate moments.”
The optimistic and upbeat mom admits that there are times when she’s worn out from the double duty. With a day that starts a 6:30 am and ends at 8:30 pm and doesn’t slow down for a moment, not too many would argue with her exhaustion.
“It’s hard because I don’t get much time to myself,” she says. “I am constantly doing stuff for my kids. There are times that are chaotic and I have to take a deep breath. Sometimes you need a break — like a shower. Some days a shower would be nice!”
What lies ahead
Kristin, who loves her life in Leland and the friends she’s made through play groups and teaching Stroller Strides classes, is unsure if this is her life forever.
“I’d like to go back to work eventually,” she says. “When the kids are in school, I might get my career back on track. I’ll never be able to go back to sea because I will always have my kids, but I can do something locally in the industry…. I am so fortunate to be able to stay at home with my kids. But then I miss [work] at times. Like when my husband called me while he was on a safari in Africa and I had two kids in the bathtub screaming. Those are the times that I want to go back. But you know what? In the end, I wouldn’t change my life for anything.”
Although safaris seem more attractive than tantrums in the tub, Kristin recognizes the value in offering her children the stability of having one parent at home.
“My son has serious separation anxiety, which might have to do with my husband leaving. So I need to be with him when I can. My daughter is still young and doesn’t really get it, but I want to make sure that they are not affected by Adam’s career. That’s why me being at home is so important to us. They need that stability. Besides, if I worked a full-time job, it would be a disaster. I would be exhausted all of the time!”
Kristin advises that whether you stay at home or work in an office, it’s so important to take time for yourself.
“I try so hard to take time for myself, like at the gym, and not to get too neurotic about everything,” she says. “Yes, I’m a mom, but I’m still Kristin.”
Kristin recognizes that, although her life may feel tough at times, she is fortunate always.
“I am one of four girls in my family,” she says, “and all three of my other sisters work. So I understand the stresses of a working mom. Some work because they have to and some work because they want to. And there is nothing wrong with either of those circumstances. Whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, everyone works really hard and everyone wants to do what’s right for his or her children, everyone just does it in a different way. It’s just that this, this is the life for me.”