GTPulse: Mom, Healthcare Worker, Nursing Student – Meet Ms. Great Lakes

We put people in boxes throughout our lives. It’s not intentional, but you probably don’t wonder what the person who gives you coffee every morning does in their free time, or what hobbies your doctor has, or what your neighbor wanted to be when he grew up. You don’t wonder about it because their role in your life is already clear to you. He pours your coffee, she writes your prescriptions, and your neighbor calls the city when your grass is a quarter-inch too long. When Madison Bartlett became a young mother, she wasn’t going to let that put her in a box. She would work just as hard at being a mom as she was going to at all other parts of her life. Today, the 30-year-old is the proud mama of 2, a Munson ICU worker, a nursing student at Northwestern Michigan College, and Ms. Great Lakes. Talk about multifaceted.

“I’ve always enjoyed the pageant world, but I was a young mother. I got married young, and in order to be a Miss Michigan or Miss America, you have to be young, not married, no kids, so my journey was a little bit different.”

Madison grew up in Traverse City and when she wanted to get involved with pageants after marrying and becoming a mother, she knew it would be difficult, until she found Captivating Pageants. With the motto Be You, Be Different, Be Captivating, the program was focused on being more inclusive and less restrictive than a typical pageant.

“Their goal is really unique in that it empowers women to come as they are and really just highlight what it is they’re passionate about. So for me, I’m passionate about the outdoors, I’m passionate about healthcare and lung health, and loving on other moms too because being a mom is hard work.”

Madison won the title of Ms. Great Lakes last year and in her time as the reigning pageant queen, she has advocated for the region and the Great Lakes. 

“I spend a lot of time at the lake, on the water and I think that our beautiful water is so important to the region. I think it’s important to highlight that to other people who might not be as familiar. My goal was to make an appearance every month, and with COVID that really changed things. One thing I did is sew a bunch of masks for my community. A lot of the people not getting proper PPE were grocery workers, so I made about 45 masks and gave some to them as well as daycare workers.”

Looking after those who are in need of care is something near to Madison’s heart. She worked in optometry for a few years before taking the plunge to go back to school. I can’t tell you how many times a friend in their 20s or 30s tells me that it’s “too late” to go back. As someone who didn’t even start school until their 20s, I find that maddening. It’s a thought Madison shares.

“I’m older than most of my peers, but that helps me sometimes to be able to offer them guidance. All of my professors are very supportive and encouraging.”

She found a job working in Munson’s ICU before going back to school to make sure it’s what she really wanted, and it is. She’ll graduate NMC with a nursing degree at the end of this semester.

“I just found that I really enjoyed taking care of people, and especially people in critical care. That’s when they really need it the most. I love being able to offer someone a kind smile, or word, and just be able to help calm or comfort them at that moment.”

Caring for others comes naturally to Madison, and becoming a parent made that obvious to her. 

She works hard to care for them and raise them in a gentle, intentional way that helps them become comfortable with their authentic selves.

“Having them look up to me, I always make sure that I’m showing confidence and kindness, and setting goals that I achieve. Like, ‘This is how we achieve things. We work hard. Yes mom has to stay up late. Yes, mom has to study, but it’s ok. You’re going to do the same thing too.’ Especially with homeschooling in the Spring. We would sit down with their assignments, and then I would pull out my assignments and they would see me do school as well.”

Homeschooling kids while working and attending school is a lot for anyone, and Madison managed to do it with grace and a positive attitude. With burn out being a real thing in our American work culture, how does she handle it?

“Self-care is very real. We spend a lot of time going to the lake or the woods after work. Five miles down from our house we have a lot of property we can walk on. We’ll take the dogs for a run in the woods. Also, I just make sure I am communicating, ‘Hey I’m having a rough day. I’m going to need a second.’ Take off the hat of being a student or healthcare worker or pageant queen, breathe a little bit, then put on my mom hat.”

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Categories: GTPulse