Soft-spoken, scholarly and sporting a smart wrap dress in a royal blue print, Rebecca Nall is just what you’d imagine a woman working at a museum would look like. She’s assistant director of communication for the Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University. She’s also the wife of a law enforcement officer and mother to a 1-year-old baby girl. Her life is a delicate balancing act of planning events, making meetings, being a supportive spouse and a nurturing mom — all while taking good care of herself.
WACOAN: Describe yourself in three words.
Nall: Determined. Dependable. Compassionate.
WACOAN: Do you have to work hard to balance your life, or does it just comes naturally?
Nall: Sometimes work and home is hard to juggle, like when there is a meeting I really don’t want to miss and the baby is sick and I don’t want to leave her. I love my job, so I enjoy going to work, and I love my family, so I want to spend time with them when we are all home. I guess because there is a lot to balance in life, flexibility is what is most important.
WACOAN: How do you practice flexibility when trying to balance everything?
Nall: My husband and I have very different work schedules. He works nights and, in a lot of ways, that is good for us. We keep a calendar and try to stay on a schedule, but sometimes that is not possible, like when we have a sick baby or I have an out-of-town conference. One of us has to be willing to change plans for the day. We have to be flexible to keep it all in balance.
WACOAN: Tell me a little about your position at the Mayborn Museum. How long have you been there, and what exactly do you do?
Nall: I have been at the Mayborn for a little over eight years. As the assistant director of communication, I work with a team to ensure that the Mayborn Museum Complex, as an extension of Baylor University, is represented positively to the community. This includes not only promotion and coordinating media inquiries but also working with the people that run our front gate, the museum store and the membership program. I also play an active role in bringing traveling exhibits to the Mayborn, which is always interesting and exciting.
WACOAN: What brought you to Waco?
Nall: I actually came to Waco to work at the Mayborn. It was my first job out of graduate school. I wasn’t really sure how long I would stay in Waco, but my husband and I loved it so much we decided to make it our home.
WACOAN: What kind of degree did you get that prepared you to work in a museum?
Nall: I have a B.A. in history from the University of Texas and an M.A. in museum science from Texas Tech University. Museums are my passion, and I feel thankful every day that I get to work in such a fun and vibrant environment.
WACOAN: Did you always want to work in a museum?
Nall: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I think my freshman year of college, when everyone is trying to figure out their major, is when I decided.
I love history, but I really wanted to do something different. I thought working in a museum would be a fun and interesting way to use my love of history and make it a career.
WACOAN: What is the most interesting or fun day-to-day part of your job?
Nall: That I don’t have a day-to-day job! In the museum business each day is different, and each new exhibit is different. I love always learning something new.
WACOAN: What do you think makes the Mayborn Museum such a great asset to the Waco community?
Nall: It’s hard to qualify the way that museums enrich our lives. The memories made are priceless. We offer free admission the first Sunday of every month, which helps us reach underserved audiences in the area who might not otherwise get to enjoy such an incredible museum. It is fun to watch children who have been to the museum on a field trip bring their parents in, excited to show them around.
WACOAN: What is your work schedule like? How does it fit in with your life as a new mom?
Nall: My job is typically Monday-Friday, 8 [a.m.]-5 [p.m.]. Yet the museum is only closed about 10 days out of the year, and we offer special events on weekends, so there are some weekends and holidays that we all pitch in. Often there is juggling involved with my husband’s work schedule, but we make it work and find extra time for the three of us.
WACOAN: Did you ever consider not going back to work after having your daughter?
Nall: I think returning to work is hard for a lot of new moms. I enjoyed every minute of my maternity leave and would have loved to spend more time with my daughter, but ultimately returning to work was best for my family and me. I have a wonderful job at an ideal place and knew I wouldn’t get so lucky again.
WACOAN: In what ways do you feel your job contributes to the greater good of education and children? And is that something that’s important to you?
Nall: As an informal learning center, the Mayborn is an excellent resource not only for schools but also for families who can benefit from playing and learning together. It is nice to watch families enjoy the museum together, and I am happy to play a role in that.
WACOAN: What upcoming exhibits or events are you working on at the Mayborn?
Nall: There are always a ton of projects going on at any given time. Last month we said goodbye to our summer exhibit, ‘Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure,’ but we will welcome back our model train exhibit, ‘All Aboard The Mayborn Express,’ in December. We’re also gearing up for ‘Christmas In the Village,’ set for December 12, where visitors can experience an 1890s Christmas. We’ll be decorating trees and having lots of activities for kids. At the end of January we are hosting an exhibit about Mr. Potato Head and Tinkertoys.
WACOAN: Is there someone who has inspired you in your work or your life?
Nall: JK Rowling. Sometimes I think [to myself], if she could write ‘Harry Potter’ as a single mother living in poverty, then I can definitely go to work on less than four hours of sleep.
I find inspiration from lots of places. My family, friends and co-workers inspire me. We have a lot of working moms here at the museum, and we support each other and share experiences and knowledge. That really inspires me.
WACOAN: What do you see as the most important job in your life?
Nall: I think being a good, compassionate mother and a positive role model for my daughter is the most important job in my life.
WACOAN: What does your husband do? In what ways does he help you most with running the household?
Nall: My husband is a police officer. He and I are very much equal partners in our marriage and as parents. We help each other out when we are busy by picking up the slack.
WACOAN: Wow. With all that is going on around the country, now is a very scary time to be in law enforcement. Is it hard for you to watch him go off to work each day?
Nall: At times it’s very difficult. I worry about him every single day. But I’m very proud of him and what he does for our community.
WACOAN: When did you two meet? And when did you marry?
Nall: We started dating shortly after high school when mutual friends introduced us. We got married in 2010 after we finished school and both had steady jobs.
WACOAN: In the craziness of life with a baby, in what ways do you and your husband take time to show your appreciation for each other?
Nall: Since we have different work schedules and sometimes we might not see each other for days, we always find time to leave each other notes around the house. Sometimes they are sweet and heartfelt. Other times they are funny.
WACOAN: How has motherhood changed your relationship with your husband?
Nall: Well, obviously it isn’t just the two of us anymore. Yet while I have a new love in my life [my daughter], I have found I love my husband even more because he is such a wonderful father.
WACOAN: Where does your daughter go during the day while you are working? And what do you like about the place you chose?
Nall: She goes to a church day care that is near my work. For the first six months I spent my lunch hour with her. I also love the people who work there. They make being a working mom so much easier.
WACOAN: Have you thought about future schools or areas of town where you’d like to live, based on the school?
Nall: We haven’t made any decisions or ruled anything out yet. We have some time to explore the options based on what is best for her.
WACOAN: When your family can all be together for quality time during the week, what are some of the ways you connect with each other?
Nall: When we are all home, we have dinner together around the table. But every morning my daughter and I say goodbye to my husband before we leave for the day. She loves to give him kisses.
WACOAN: What are your personal passions, favorite organizations or sectors of the community where you serve?
Nall: I have been involved with the Museum Association of Waco for many years. I enjoy working with others that have a mutual passion for the museum field and serving the public. Being a new mom, that pretty much fills my time right now.
WACOAN: Do you like to cook? What are a few of your go-to weeknight meals?
Nall: I do like to cook. I haven’t been cooking as much lately. The crockpot is definitely my friend for rushed weeknights. I have a good potato soup recipe that I can’t wait to use once the weather starts cooling down.
WACOAN: Well, I felt a little cool air yesterday. Would you be willing to share?
Nall: It’s really simple. Basically, you combine diced potatoes, diced onion, chicken broth and seasonings in the crockpot and cook for 6-8 hours while you’re at work. Here’s what makes it good (and maybe not so good for you): Thirty minutes before you serve it, add a block of cream cheese. After it melts, stir it around.
WACOAN: That sounds yummy. Is it a family recipe?
Nall: No, I found it on Pinterest! I find a lot of good recipes there.
WACOAN: When do you find is the best time to go to the grocery store?
Nall: To be honest, my husband usually goes to the grocery store. He generally has more time during the week.
WACOAN: What do you do to care for yourself physically and emotionally?
Nall: I like to read.
After my daughter is in bed and I am ready for the next day, I try to read for a bit before I fall asleep. It helps me unwind and shut my brain down. I also like to take baths and drink green tea.
WACOAN: Do you have any favorite, must-have products that you can’t live without, like a favorite lip balm or a phone case?
Nall: Actually, I have discovered a new website that is really great for busy moms who don’t have time to shop. It’s called StitchFix.com, and it’s a personal style website that sends outfits you might like to your home, so you can try them on.
WACOAN: How does it work?
Nall: You answer questions about your size, style, needs (work or casual) and budget. Stitch Fix selects five outfits based on your specifications and mails them to you once a month.
WACOAN: How do you pay?
Nall: After you’ve tried everything on and decided what you like, you go online and check out. You pay for the things you want to keep, and you return the things that didn’t work.
WACOAN: Are they pretty good at finding things that work for you?
Nall: Yes! I usually keep about half of the outfits. I got this dress [that I’m wearing today] there. It’s a lot of fun, and I really look forward to receiving my package each month. It’s just really great for women who need clothes but who just don’t have time or don’t want to spend time shopping for them. I’ve received three or four shipments so far, and I love it.
WACOAN: That sounds just about perfect!
In what areas do you feel you struggle or wish you had better skills?
Nall: I tend to approach some situations with the worst-case scenario in mind. I know many mothers worry about their children. There are millions of scenarios running through my mind about what could happen to [my daughter]. For instance, we just discovered she has a peanut allergy, and there are so many worries with that. But I just try to think things through and plan ahead, and that puts my mind at ease. Even though I worry, I am always prepared for any outcome.
WACOAN: How do you hope your daughter sees you as a mother, wife and working woman? What do you want her to know as she grows up?
Nall: I just hope to be a positive role model for my daughter. I want her to know that I will be supportive no matter what she wants to do with her life.
WACOAN: When you think about your life, how do you prioritize the things that are most important to you?
Nall: It is a priority for me to organize quality time together as a family around our two busy jobs. Sometimes you have to learn to say no, which is hard.
WACOAN: Do you have a motto or a favorite quote or words you live by?
Nall: We can figure it out. I don’t think it would count as a motto, but I find myself saying it quite a bit.