Being a dedicated mom is work. Before reading any further, please note the period.
As I prepare to return to the working world, contemplating how I will “account” for the six-month hole in my resume, I find myself struggling with the notion that somehow, somefuckinghow, being a mom isn’t enough.
Everyone knows it’s considered highly unprofessional (maybe even borderline crazy) to publicly proclaim parenting has added to your professional value – especially when you’re hunting for a job. I would never in a million years write “Mom” on my resume, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. Parenting has obviously increased my professional value – I’d even argue it’s made me invaluable – it’s made me smarter, it’s given me focus, I’m quicker, I’m tougher, I’m more agile, I’m more out of the box, I’m more insightful and I literally don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks – BUT, I MEAN, WHO AM I TO THINK?! – I’m just a mom, right? I’m just an unemployed mom, who’s been sitting here wasting away. What could I possibly know?
Anyway, moving on.
I found an article on Monster, Resume tips for full-time parents returning to work, and these are actual quotes from actual people:
“Most women who stay at home for a period of time are not just doing laundry and homework…Most women are involved in significant volunteer efforts, and that is the experience that should be included in a resume.” And “We personally feel that there is no need to dress up time at home with silly titles like ‘domestic engineer…The important thing is to identify how you have continued to use your business skills in the time you have been out of the workforce. And if you truly have had nothing but child care and household responsibilities, it would be a good idea to get involved in some volunteer activities that require business skills—managing committees, writing newsletters, handling budgets, etc.” And “Parents who have been out of the workforce for a number of years and have minimal alternative experience such as volunteer work may need a functional resume. Although functional resumes are not preferred by hiring managers…”
I’ll let that sink for a minute.
Now, I did volunteer and continue to use my “business” skills (which FYI are not exclusive to business careers) over the last six months. But not because I was worried about having a gap in my resume but because I had the time and resources to do so. And, of course, I wrote whenever I could but, let’s be serious, I was not a true stay-at-home mom. Most weeks, the boys went to school three days a week and I spent at least two of those volunteering.. If I had been an honest-to-goodness stay-at-home mom, my six months off would have looked drastically different.
I would have never been able to volunteer like I did and I would have written exponentially less. I have a one- and three-year old who never stop. Only one of them naps and neither of them are particularly tame children when they’re together. They make nine hour days pass faster than a trip to the post office drop box. Spending the day with my boys is basically like spending the day in one of those escape rooms – but worse because there are things like feces, bodily harm and toddlers involved – and it’s a whole week. It’s a non-stop circuit of time- and life-sensitive problem solving. I mean, parenting isn’t exactly like conducting brain surgery (well, to me – to my toddlers it’s 100% as serious brain surgery) but it’s definitely not like sitting in an office, with a set schedule of meetings and a nicely organized list of to-dos where adults speak to you kindly and people respect your personal space.
“If you truly have had nothing but child care and household responsibilities…” Truly? Nothing BUT…? WHO YOU TALKIN ‘BOUT WILLIS?
It’s articles like these. It’s startups who expect all of their employees to work around the clock because the fridge is full of craft beer, the snacks are organic and their vacation is unlimited. It’s the negative, lazy and pitiful stigma that resilient and competitive working women – the ones who insist staying at home with our kids is not a privilege the generations before us fought for – have attached to stay-at-home moms. It’s the awful men who insist that if we really wanted to be equal, we would put our kids in child care, come to work perfectly tailored and aesthetically pleasing, smile all day long, say yes and never complain. It’s all of this and SO much more that has altered expectations and set these unrealistic standards that being a good, dedicated parent is not enough. It all feeds into this notion that somehow – SOMEFUCKINGHOW– there is nothing about parenting that is valuable within our professional careers or endeavors – unless of course those endeavors are within the child care or education fields.
Early on in my job search last spring I started making it a point to tell every potential employer and every recruiter I had two little boys. At first, it felt like something I should disclose. It felt like if I didn’t, I was somehow lying by omission. But after going to a handful of interviews at a bunch of youthful agencies inferring long days, late nights and infringed-upon weekends, I realized I had outgrown those spaces and those demands, as well as their perks. After that realization, every time anyone asked what I had been doing with my time, I proudly told them I was taking advantage of the weather and freedom by cutting back on my boys’ school schedules to spend more time with them. It was refreshing to openly and honestly tell people I was putting my kids first, especially people I might have expected more. I got side eye followed by a long unimpressed pause, I got unenthusiastic nods of pity and I got chuckles – FOR REAL, CHUCKLES! The first few times, I was quick to jump in and fill in their self-imposed blanks, “And I’ve been volunteering at my boys’ school helping them get their tools online, creating and managing their blog and website and then I’ve also been writing quite a bit.” I annoyed myself until the reactions became infuriating. Then, I just didn’t give a fuck anymore and if the volunteering or writing was applicable, I would mention it – if not, I left it at that. I was raising and teaching my kids, why couldn’t that be enough?
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, I’ve spent the last six months being a mom. I’m not going to dumb it down or weaken it by saying I spent it “just being a mom” or “simply being a mom” because there is nothing dumb or weak or simple about the work or the role. It’s not less important work than what I was getting paid to do a year ago or what I will be getting paid to do a week from now, or even three years from now. It has undoubtedly increased my professional value and the ONLY reason there is a gap in employment on my resume is because somehow – somefuckinghow – we’ve been brainwashed to believe parenthood just isn’t enough.
It’s time we all stop doing ourselves the disservice of pretending like what we’re doing at home is not enough.