Like many of us, Tiffany Wicks didn’t start out knowing what her passion was and realizing what she truly wanted to do is something she’ll never forget. “I started my career as an elementary teacher,” she says. “In my third grade class, my first year of teaching, was a little girl going through some big things. She was so strong and had so much heart. She would always tell me what was going on in her life and was looking for guidance. I was there for her as much as I could be, but often I didn’t know what to say. I was 21 and so lost on how to help. I knew I wanted to help others that were dealing with difficult situations. The next fall, I enrolled in a counseling program and never looked back.”
Tiffany has invested a lot into her education and holds a number of degrees and accreditations. “I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Masters in Counseling,” she shares. “Along with my degree, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).” All of her qualifications led her to a number of positions before entrepreneurship came onto her radar. “I’ve been so blessed to work with people at so many life stages,” Tiffany says. “I started as an elementary teacher. After I finished graduate school, I served as an elementary, then middle school, counselor. My most recent job was a counselor at a domestic violence agency. The last ten years have been such a growing experience and have taught me how children, teens, and adults cope and heal from trauma and stress. I feel like a stronger counselor because I understand how hardships impact the lifespan and how we as parents can change the outcomes for the next generation.” She took that next step into owning her own business, Push Counseling & Coaching, just this year.
“I opened Push at the beginning of 2018,” she says. “It came to be because a good friend of mine encouraged me to open my private practice to fill the need of more specialized maternal mental health counselors in the DFW [Dallas- Fort Worth] area.” Even over the course of less than a year, her practice has grown and evolved to better serve the women in her area. “I originally only focused on prenatal and postpartum mental health,” she explains. “However, motherhood is so much more and I’ve found there aren’t many specialized maternal mental health counselors in general, let alone in DFW. Now my practice is focused on supporting women at any stage of motherhood, pre-conception through postpartum. I built my practice on this from the beginning because I believe it is important to let women know that it’s okay to seek help, and I want Push to be a safe place.” In addition to widening her services, she has also made adjustments when it comes to how often she provides care. “Push started as a small private practice with appointments only in the evenings,” she explains. “Now, I offer daytime and evening appointments for more availability. I also offer online counseling to be accessible for every type of mom and to serve a broader area, not just Dallas. This fall I will offer a training to birth professionals about how to provide more effective emotional support for their clients. In just nine months, Push has grown so much and I can’t wait to see what’s next!”
Having a new and fast growing business is exciting and also comes with the challenge of balancing it with home life. “I have a two and a half year old daughter named Livi,” Tiffany shares. “She’s smart, and sassy, and has the kindest heart. I could talk about her for hours. She goes with the flow and I’m so grateful for that. This past spring, I was working a full time job, in graduate school (again), and launching Push. She and my husband were so strong and supportive through all of it. I’m grateful to start this business while she’s young so I never miss a recital or PTA meeting or soccer game. And I want her to always remember her mom as a strong, motivated woman to teach her she can do anything with no limitations.” How we balance business and babies changes and evolves as our kids, and business, grow. As her daughter has grown over this year, Tiffany has adjusted what balance means to her. “Balance is HARD,” she says. “I admittedly have my hands in so many cookie jars. I constantly remind myself that my priority is my family. While I work hard to grow my practice and my brand, it’s important to sometimes take a break and enjoy the family moments and memories now, because kids grow up so fast. I make sure to always drop her off and pick her up from school, I am off on Fridays to have more time with her, and I do a lot of administrative work after bedtime so I can be present when she’s awake. I slow down a lot more often. She notices a lot more when I’m gone, so I am very intentional about when I’m gone, and make sure I spend as much time with her to make her feel loved and cared for. I’m learning that my family needs to be a part of my business planning so I can do what’s best for us first.”
There are always challenges that arise as we try to master that balance as business owners and as mothers. “My biggest challenge was, and is, establishing a schedule and routine that works,” Tiffany shares. “This is so difficult given that each day looks different. I know this is a growing year and a schedule takes time. What matters is that I’m working towards my goals for my business and my family. But it’s about managing expectations. I have to manage that there are times that I’m not home as much some weeks, or need to take a day to go study, or days that I unfairly insert my stress into my interactions with my daughter. It’s okay to not meet every expectation as long as I recover and try again. I am definitely a work in progress with this, but progress is happening.”
One of the motivating factors fueling Tiffany’s passion to help women this way with her practice is her own personal experiences surrounding pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. “It started with prenatal depression,” she shares. “I heard so many stories from my friends about how beautiful pregnancy was and how happy I should be, but I didn’t feel that and didn’t know that it was okay to not be euphoric during pregnancy. It was a struggle. In addition to work stress, my body wasn’t handling pregnancy well and I went on bed rest for a month. Being a naturally busy person, bed rest was hell. It also didn’t help lower my blood pressure. I developed pre-eclampsia and was induced at 37 weeks because even though the baby was fine, I was not. My labor was difficult and scary. I truly believe the emotional toll that the birth took on me was a major factor of my postpartum depression. I felt like I failed because my expectations for my birth and for myself weren’t met. This is a common belief that moms have. We set expectations for ourselves, and when they don’t happen the way we want, we associate it with our failure as a mother, woman, etc. It’s not true! But I didn’t know this. My postpartum experience was worse than my pregnancy. I felt alone, and I so desperately wanted social interaction with adults, but it was all about the baby. As time went on, I put pressure on myself about breastfeeding, I shamed myself for supplementing with formula, for not pureeing her food when it came time, for co-sleeping, for not swaddling her enough, and the list goes on. These are all things that are a parent’s choice, because we know what’s best for our babies. But, society stresses what’s best, and when it doesn’t work we again attribute it to failure. This is what heightens our hormones and when don’t manage expectations and get the support we need or use emotional coping that actually works, postpartum anxiety and depression sets in. I was in a low place, and even though I was a mental health professional, I was convinced I needed to push through and do it alone because I believed that’s what moms are supposed to do. I waited far too long to get help. I found it hard to find a counselor who specialized in maternal mental health and when I did, I couldn’t afford it. It took time to process through my experience and heal and learn how to be authentic with myself and others in order to make an impact on other moms. My goal in starting Push is to provide affordable and accessible mental health care so no mom ever feels they have to survive the struggles of motherhood alone. Even though no one ever chooses or wants to struggle, because I did, I can support other women.”
Tiffany’s experiences both as a mother and as a mental health professional give her a unique insight into why women might not be open to admitting they need help. “Reaching out for help is never easy,” she says. “I am always honored and proud when mothers contact me on their own, knowing they need more support. The most important thing is that we know our bodies and minds, and we know when something doesn’t feel right. Even though our hormones and bodies are adjusting to pregnancy or new motherhood, stick with your intuition if you are feeling anxious or depressed or different than your typical self. If you feel that, it’s time to find some more support, particularly mental health support. I would encourage moms who feel like they need counseling to tell someone they trust. It’s so hard to make a phone call or write an email on your own, but ask someone to do it with you. Tell them you need their help because even when you receive counseling support, you need other people to walk alongside you, too. I offer a 20 minute free consultation so women can hear the human on the other side of the phone and hopefully it breaks down some of the stigma of counseling and allows them to ask the questions they have before they come in. Hopefully one day maternal mental health support is common and a part of the process so women don’t hesitate to take care of themselves.”
While she has already grown her practice quite a bit over the course of this year, she has no plans to slow down. “I want to increase support for moms,” Tiffany says. “This includes seeing more clients and start offering group counseling support. I hope to educate more families and support systems about prenatal and postpartum depression, the pain of miscarriage, and the emotional toll of infertility so they understand how to support their loved one. I want to talk to more birth professionals about perinatal mental health and train them on providing validation and emotional support. Ultimately, my goal in the next year is to broaden the conversation about maternal mental health to reduce the stigma and shame in struggling as mothers.”
When people, and women in particularly, take on entrepreneurship, people often doubt that they have what it takes. “I’m sure there are people who doubt that running a business is the path for me, but I fortunately do not know who those people are,” she says. “I know this is what I am meant to do, so there’s no stopping me. There are times I doubt my ability to run the business, but I am working to learn from every setback, make adjustments as necessary, and keep pushing forward. I believe in, and love, what I do, and although it takes time to see the results I’d like, I will get there.”
While it’s easy to get caught up in what success means to others, one of the only ways we truly find happiness in what we do is knowing what that means to us personally. “I used to think success was fame and when everyone knows your name, but it’s knowing you are, or have accomplished, what you’ve set out to do,” Tiffany says. “My number one goal in business is for mothers to have accessible and affordable support, and one way I’m doing that is through specialized mental health care. I am working towards that goal so Push can be a part of the change so no mother feels alone. My personal goals are to be a good person and raise good people. I want my child/children to be fearless, love big, and stand by those who are hurting or marginalized. I can only hope they see that in me first, but seeing them be good people would mean I succeeded as a parent.”
As for her advice to other mothers looking to follow their passions and start their own businesses she says it’s important to “include your family in your business plans, but don’t limit yourself on what you want to do. As you’re working toward your goals, remember it takes time for a business to get off the ground. See every opportunity and every setback as a learning opportunity, knowing each will get you closer to your goal. Seek support from other business owners. When we do this together, we all win. And most importantly, you CAN do this. You deserve to live your dreams and be successful, whatever that means to you.”
“I’m so honored everyday to do what I love and be in the presence of powerful women who fight for the health of themselves and their families. In the words of Beyonce, we really do run the world.”
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Thanks for reading along!
Yours in business and motherhood,