Neighborhood: Highland Park
Mommyism: "You can't be perfect. Perfection isn't what kids need."
In 2000, with a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Florida and a master's degree in human resource management and industrial relations from the University of Illinois under her belt, Melanie Atkinson was ready to pursue her dream job of working for Pepsi in Tampa.
"I was more comfortable with the Pepsi truck driver than a doctor at Pfizer," Atkinson said.
But the birth of her first son, Garrett, would change that.
"It was a game changer," she recalled. "It was literally a complete 180 in my life."
Her priorities switched and instead of pouring hours into industrial workplace issues, she was knee deep in motherhood. Today she's a mother to three sons: Garrett, 12, Jake, 10, and Scott, 6.
In 2005, after spending time as a full-time mom, Atkinson opted for a career in real estate for its flexibility. She's now a Realtor with The Wood Team at Coldwell Banker, and etching out time for her husband, Todd, and her other loves, hockey and writing.
It's a juggling act that Atkinson infuses with humor and a down-to-earth charm. She's become known for writing about the rigors of life, first for tbt* and later in her own real estate blog.
Being the only woman in a male-dominated household doesn't bother the self-proclaimed "tomboy" who had the urge to climb a tree during our Patch photo shoot.
"I love it," she said about having three boys. "But you're responsible for teaching them how to be around women.
"My philosophy, my mission for them, is to raise happy, healthy capable adults," Atkinson said. "I want them to move out and be capable and not have to come home."
On her love for writing: "Writing is in my top five favorite things to do, just behind spending time with family and friends, going to concerts, eating Fleming’s potatoes, and watching hockey," she said. "Putting words together in a meaningful way is really fun for me."
What makes real estate fun: "The practical stuff. The foundation and the walls and what people bring into the house are the things that are fun for me," she said. "I consider houses living, breathing organisms."
How she juggles it all: "All my neighbors help me all the time. To be a working mom, you have to ask for help and be OK with taking it," she said. "Having a good babysitter is a game changer."
What motherhood has taught her: "One thing that I learned that stands out for me is how important it is to trust your instincts, especially when it comes to your children. For example, when my oldest son was almost 2 years old and not saying any words, my pediatrician advised me to give it some time and everything would be fine. Something about waiting didn’t make sense to me. My husband and I took him for a private evaluation. He ended up needing speech therapy for years. When I look at him now, with his perfect articulation, I am so thankful that I trusted my gut and got him help at an early age."
Editor's note: Westchase Patch teamed up with Westfield Citrus Park to pamper some special moms from our neighborhood. For our Mother's Day photo shoot, Westfield Citrus Park merchant White House Black Market supplied Melanie's Mitered Stripe Maxi Dress ($128). Melanie is wearing a 'Love Mom' Necklace ($36); and a 'Love ID,' bracelet ($33) from Brighton Collectibles Citrus Park. Makeup courtesy of Sephora.
Mom's Day Gift idea: Still looking for mom's gift? Brighton has a wide variety of accessories that speak to the mothers in your life, including the 'Love Mom' Necklace Melanie Atkinson is wearing.
Check back tomorrow for our next featured mom!