For the majority of human history, men and women stood as equals, hunting and gathering side by side. When we took to the farm a few thousand years ago, men headed to the fields and women, to the home. But just in the past century, the tides have shifted once again. Women are back into the swing of hunting and gathering — this time for professional success and comfortable salaries. But they’re still caring for kids, cooking dinner and finding time for friends, volunteering and community organizations. Here are a handful of Columbia women who do it all and, somehow, manage to make it look easy.
Women Styled by Mitchell Drinkard
Hair and Make-Up Compliments of Pela Cura Salon
Being a mother is certainly tough work. For most moms in the United States, that means taking care of 1.89 children. For Eryca Neville, director of alternative education for Columbia Public Schools and principal of Douglass High School, that means taking care of some 165 of “the most educationally fragile in all of Columbia,” she says.
“If you look on our website, it says that Douglass is like one big family,” she continues. “And we really are like one big happy — albeit a bit dysfunctional at times — family.” Every morning, after she gets her children, Charles, 8; Nia, 10; and Nicole, a freshman at Truman State, off to school, she refocuses on how to get her “other children” off to a good start.
“I know Columbia is very affluent and very fortunate, and there’s a lot of room for economic growth, but the flip side of that is that there’s a lot of poverty, and it’s growing,” she says. “Seeing the impact of poverty on some of my students is heartbreaking.”
One of Eryca’s biggest challenges is that she never feels like she has time to get everything done. “I try to just do the best I can every day,” she says.
TIP: “Renew yourself. If you don’t renew you, you won’t have anything to give.”
For Trish Koetting, who owns Hoss’s Market with her husband, Hoss, the best part of the day is somewhere near the end.
“Around 10 p.m. every night, once we’re all home together, we sit on the bed in [me and Hoss’s] bedroom and take 10 minutes or so to rehash the day,” she says about herself, her husband and their children, Joey, 16, and Sean, 14.
“We cover what we’ve been doing that day, what tomorrow looks like and go over the itinerary,” she says. Oftentimes, that itinerary starts around 5:20 a.m., with Sean’s soccer practice at Rock Bridge High School. After Trish drops him off, she heads home to do laundry before picking him up and heading to work. Sometimes, she’ll skip out to go see her sons’ games simply because she doesn’t “want to miss what they’ve got going on,” she says. “But thankfully, I have a great husband who picks up the slack.”
Trish keeps busy with the Chamber of Commerce, leadership positions on her kids’ soccer teams and the booster board for Rock Bridge athletics. But the one thing she would gladly give up and truly slack on?
“Laundry! My kids go through three outfits a day.”
TIP: “Rely on your girlfriends. If you have a bad moment, text them, and they’ll bring your spirits up.”
Even if it isn’t every day, chances would be good if you were looking to find Melissa Quast, she’d be carrying 50-pound bags of feed at her company, Bourn Feed & Supply.
“I’m not afraid,” she says. “I’ll swing that 50-pound bag over my back; I’ll do whatever needs to be done. I do everything from cleaning the bathroom to writing the paychecks.”
That’s the attitude Melissa has had every day since taking over as president of Bourn Feed & Supply following the death of her father to cancer in March. Her father, Joel Haley, bought the company from Bob Bourn in 1987, and Melissa had worked or her dad for more than 20 years when he passed away.
“We both really love working with our customers,” she says. Although each day brings new challenges, Melissa faces them with confidence.
But her biggest challenge each day? “Transitioning from work to home,” she says. With two children — Sierra, 15, and Wesley, 8 — and her husband, Mike, she works through the challenge and looks forward to reuniting every night at the dinner table.
“It’s not such a bad thing to play mom and wife every now and then,” she says with a laugh.
TIP: “Sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture rather than dwell on all the details.”
This wasn’t the best timing for Betsy Farris. But, of course, the president of Thumper Entertainment (which organizes the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival) would never tell you that herself. Even as CH sat down to interview her mere weeks before the festival, she was as calm as ever.
“I do better under pressure,” she says. “I’m a much better person when I have a lot to do.” With her job, she gets her wish every day.
“We have to jump through lots of fiery hoops to make things happen,” she says. “When there’s never been anything done like the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, there are a lot of big moving parts.” This year the fiery hoops include moving to the park, endless shuttle service and a ferris wheel.
Pressure. Hard work. Fiery hoops. And still, she manages to find time to run Columbia’s trails, swim or bike nearly every day, in addition to being a mother to three children: Collin, 19; Troy, 16; and Mathew, 14; maintaining her relationship with boyfriend, Ben White, and supporting Columbia Second Chance, a local no-kill animal shelter.
“Really, it’s all good stuff,” she says. “The good things just take a little longer.” No changes. No complaints.
TIP: “Stay the course.”
“I would not work well for someone else,” Stephanie Rothermich says, half jokingly. As owner of a financial advisory company and advisor with HighPointe Financial Group, she says being her own boss allows her to be flexible in planning for clients’ needs and objectives. But, because she’s her own boss, she’s as hard on herself as many bosses are on employees.
“It’s definitely not a 9 to 5,” she says. “It’s pretty much 24/7.” That includes a clock-in time — usually between 4:30 and 5 a.m.
Stephanie’s husband, Linus, owns a farming business, so they begin the day early, usually by walking their dogs together. She then works until it’s time to wake their children — Matthew, 14, and Kathryn, 12 — for school.
When the day is over, Stephanie still doesn’t feel done. “I just try not to stress out when I don’t get everything done,” she says. “I’ve also had to learn to say no.”
Although she loves volunteering (she’s participated in numerous professional groups, PTA, the Tiger Scholarship Fund and the Central Missouri Food Bank), Stephanie realized she needed to take care of herself, her family and her business first.
“I also realized I need to spend some time just relaxing…which is unnatural for me,” she says.
TIP: “Take time for yourself. Hire out help when you need it. Keep a checklist.”
When Amanda Allmon first had children, she thought she’d be able to do it all. As a family physician with University Hospital, she’d gotten used to doing it all. About half of her time was spent seeing patients, the other half, teaching our future doctors.
Surprisingly, it was partially through work that she came to the realization that doing it all couldn’t be the case anymore. Balance would have to take over.
“My department has plenty of other women working just as hard, if not harder, and they’re always giving me tips and mentoring me on how to handle it all,” she says. Along with the support of her husband and extended family, she’s achieved the balance she was seeking.
“I’m certainly not a one-lady show,” she says. “There’s no way I could be as successful as a mom, wife and physician without help.” Adding motherhood to her plate has also been one of the most fulfilling experiences; she has two sons, Beckett, 4, and Graham, 7.
“Even if you have a bad day, you get to go home and figure out what first grade and preschool were like today,” she says. “And there’s always something there that’s going to crack you up.”
TIP: “Realize that you can’t do it all alone.”