I am looking to reenter the workforce and it turns out it is not so easy. This isn’t the best economy to be unemployed in and, on top of that, there seems to be reluctance to hire someone with a gap in her work history. I know a number of SAHMs who are in the same position. I have now applied to countless positions – some I was under-qualified for, some I was over-qualified for, some I was WILDLY over-qualified for, and some that I was just right for. I have not gotten a call for one single permanent position. I did get a little freelance work via a friend of mine and that is amazing but it is frustrating to send out my resume – and occasionally have my resume placed on someone’s desk because I am doing my best to network whenever possible – and get no response. My resume is pretty. I have a close friend who is a career counselor and she made it that way. I am talented and creative and did some kind-of amazing things before I stayed home with kids. But what I really want potential employers to understand is that I have done some pretty amazing things SINCE I became a SAHM. We all have. They should be recognized. We SAHMs would be a HUGE asset.
1) We can multi-task like nobody’s business. We don’t ever do anything uninterrupted. Nothing. If I want to read a chapter of a book or a blog entry or something, chances are I will be stopped mid-sentence at least six times to fetch something or kiss a boo boo or clean up whatever the cat did in the hallway. Yet I am completely able to pick back up and jump right back in later on in the day without needing to reread what I already read (right now, as I write this, I know that Old Single Mom is having a sordid affair with Southern California but don’t have any idea how it relates to her listening to the Pearl Jam concert outside Wrigley Field while sitting on a giant macaroni noodle – but I’m gonna find out…after I write this blog entry….and get Bunny her second breakfast….and clean up whatever that damn cat did in the hallway.)
2) We have incredible focus. I just started writing this blog two minutes ago and already someone has marched over and tried to shoot apple juice at me through his straw and then climbed on my chair and tried to climb up on my shoulders and almost knocked over my coffee – but am I distracted? I am not. I am just clicking away on this here put your pants on, please keyboard and making perfect you have to ask your sister’s permission if you want to use her kindle sense.
3) We have the patience to work with your most difficult clients without being condescending. Let’s face it – you know you have clients who are high maintenance and don’t know what exactly they want and will only tell you what they don’t want. They kinda seem like someone who just turned five, right? That’s what we deal with every day and it is totally frowned upon for us to call our “clients” names and storm out of the room so we are masters at creative problem-solving.
Why, just this morning I had the following conversation after Pip told me he wanted a toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.
Me: OK. Really? Toasted bagels are crunchy.
(two minutes after brought him toasted bagel)
Pip: Mama! Can you cut the crust off? I don’t like it.
Me: Because it’s crunchy?
Pip: I don’t like it.
Me: OK. I’ll eat it.
Pip: Can you make me one with no crust?
Me: No. But I can make you one that isn’t toasted if that’s what bothered you.
Pip: It was crunchy.
Me: I know. Be right back.
(two minutes after I gave him the untoasted bagel)
Pip: Mama! Can you peel the outside off? I don’t like it.
Me: You want me to peel the entire outside of the bagel off?
Me: Well, I don’t think I can do that for you, but I can get you some plain bread without crusts with cream cheese on it.
Me: I don’t think you want toast. Toast is crunchy. You seem to want soft bread with no crust.
Pip: I’m only listening to you with one ear.
Me: I can believe that.
Pip: Actually, both my ears are listening to Power Rangers.
Me: So bread with cream cheese, then?
Me: Alrighty, then.
(crustless bread with cream cheese completely devoured in 3 minutes)
4) We’ll think you are the greatest boss EVER. We are currently in an atmosphere where people are relentlessly demanding and often speak to us in a tone that is whiny or disrespectful, where fights break out suddenly and without warning and often devolve into fisticuffs, and where we cannot get privacy even while doing the most private of things. If you don’t walk in on us in the bathroom to tell us our next task and then inquire when we’ll be done and then possibly throw a tantrum when we say “I’ll do it in a few minutes,” we will think you are fantastical and we will never want to leave.
5) We haven’t forgotten the stuff we’re good at. We really haven't. And, perhaps more importantly, we have gained immeasurable skills and endless patience from a job that is not only often thankless, but that society in general thinks is not actually work. I’m being serious here for a moment. In my particular case, I have two degrees and a whole lot of experience – not only as a writer, director, performer but also as someone who developed and implemented a working volunteer program for a non-profit and developed and implemented a touring program at a theater and served as the booking coordinator and negotiated contracts with venues all over the country and who curated and coordinated several large multi-disciplinary arts events. I haven’t forgotten how to do that stuff. And, in the past 5 years, as a person with absolutely no medical experience what-so-ever, I was suddenly thrust into the position of caring for an infant patient who was less than 2 weeks post liver transplant. I drew and administered 24 doses of 11 different meds every day. I managed his relentless follow-up appointments (and he has never missed a single one in five years) and her preschool and dance and choir and social calendar and the emergent care of his croup and his shingles and the two other times he was rushed to emergency. I know what ALT and AST and GGT are. I know the difference between PT and PTT. If there is any confusion during the draw, I can tell them that we need LFTs, CBC, Chem-Pan, and Cyclo peak. In the meantime, everyone gets three square meals a day and lunches are packed and permission slips are tracked and sent to the appropriate teachers and playdates and classes are scheduled and followed through and it may all sound like meaningless unimportant shit in the land of oh-so-important jobs but if I fall down on my end, there are human beings who aren’t fed or bathed or schooled and, in my case, one of them could reject a vital organ so there’s a little added pressure and if you think I somehow don’t have the skills to show up at your office and put together your bulk mailing and update your database, you should really pull your head back out of your ass.
6) We probably won’t start a sex scandal at your office. A lot of us are married and all of us are moms and we are less likely to end up under our desks with a hot intern.
A little less likely.
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