To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom
I grew up with my Mom at home, and that’s all I knew, and I wanted to be like her. She was the best.
I didn’t have any grand aspirations of a career of any sort because I knew that once I started a family, I would stay at home with my children.
It’s what you did.
I can remember wanting to be a Mom, and a philanthropist.
Thanks A Million
When I was growing up we got the daily newspaper delivered.
My Dad got first dibs on what section he wanted. That would usually be the Sports and the Front Page sections.
I would end up with the Living section where I could usually find the “funnies” and “Dear Abby.”
But there was this other column that drew me in.
It was called, “Thanks a Million, ” by a man named Percy Ross.
He was a philanthropist, and he would give away money to people who needed it.
His readers would ask for $65 to take their date to the prom or $125 to fix a car, or just about anything.
They were ordinary people, scraping by, or seemingly having little to no means or opportunity of being able to afford certain things.
Mr. Ross would give some homespun wisdom and instead of $65 would go ahead and send a check for $100.
His generosity was intoxicating, and I can remember thinking, that would be so cool to be able to do.
But I digress.
Off To College
Oh, I went to college right out of high school like everyone else I knew .
I got a 4-year degree from a major university.
It’s what you did.
In usual fashion I graduated college, didn’t really know what I was going to actually DO when I got out into the real world, but I interviewed here and there for “the real job.”
And for those of you who want to walk down memory lane….this is “back in the day” when you used a typewriter to type up letters and resumes.
This was the time when you picked up the phone to call to talk to people, and ask for interviews and followups.
Jobs were found through people and newspaper ads.
Well nothing came of all the proper motions.
So I moved home, which happened to be a pretty touristy area, and got a job bar tending.
Not exactly the philanthropy business.
Time To Grow Up
While my parents never expressed their displeasure with this chapter of my life, I can imagine that they may have wondered when I was actually going to “use” my degree.
I don’t know how many vodka tonics, rum runners, and beers later, but it was 3 years in calendar time that actually went by. A fabulous addition to anyone’s resume.
During this time I met my first husband-also-bartender, got married, and jolted awake.
Well gosh, I guess we need to grow up and get real jobs, and act like a responsible, married couple!
So on our honeymoon no less, my husband interviewed for a job, and got the job.
His new career took us to a different state, and there in our new apartment I typed up more cover letters and resumes in search of mine.
I would peruse the classified ads with that tiny print every day. I would then make contact with a phone call or by mail.
There were no computers, no websites.
And no luck.
I took a page out of my mother’s later-life handbook, and decided to look for a “temp job” to make some money in the hopes that a company would hire me full-time.
After a couple of temp positions, my brilliant, borrowed strategy worked, and I got my first real job.
I worked there for 2 1/2 years, and moved into another job for 1 year.
It was the birth of my first child that put an end to my so-called “career.”
Welcome to motherhood!
This was where I wanted to be. It was in my DNA.
And So It Goes…
So kid #1, kid #2, a divorce, a couple un-resume-worthy very part-time jobs, remarriage, kid #3, and BOOM! BOOM!
Did you hear that first shot?
That was the sound of 12 years of jobless motherhood going by.
Let me rephrase that.
That was 12 years of not being paid to do all the work I did 24/7 (Damn I wish I could insert sarcastic smiley faces in here).
As a Mom.
Just a Mom.
Did you hear that second shot? That was the sound of another 2 1/2 years going by before finding part-time work to supplement our family income.
Not exactly the kind of wages you earned to be a philanthropist, but it would do for now.
Sure there was 3 years of volunteering with my homeowner’s association, and there was the random volunteering efforts as vacation bible school crew leader, but gosh, you know, the hiring manager at Joe Schmoe’s Company doesn’t care about that.
I think the resume gods say that all volunteer work counts for something other than “good for the soul,” but they lie.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
3 more shots! In the dark.
And I say dark, because as far as resume-builders, I can’t say they’ve done much, so it’s more like they’re invisible.
The first 2 shots are 2 different part-time jobs working as a Children’s Ministries Assistant which sounds meaningful and worthwhile.
Read between the lines and you see that it’s a glorified “craft lady.”
Again Joe Schmoe’s Company can’t do jack with “craft lady” or whatever you want to wrap it up as, and tie with a pretty bow.
After several years I was “let go” after department restructuring.
My craft lady days were over.
The final shot you heard was a keener attempt at earning money because once again, if you’re trying to be a stay-at-home Mom, there are very few things you can squeak in around the all-important, Mom time.
This shot was an entrepreneurial stab at earning money while staying home.
That’s this Mom’s ideal.
Just Goldens In-Home Boarding
And it has worked. I’ve been boarding golden retrievers in my home for over 8 years now. Come into my house and you may find anywhere from 1 to 4 large golden retrievers.
Once upon a time when we had our own golden retriever, we would occasionally have 6 under roof and under foot, but we soon tired of that crazy chaos, and refined our boarding policy.
In addition to boarding dogs I also managed to find part-time work outside the home.
It wasn’t easy to find part time work that fit my mom schedule and my dog schedule, but after many months I spied a job on an employment website that was for a Personal Assistant.
Anybody Need A “Wife?”
It’s funny. The job duties were:
- Light housekeeping chores
- Coordinate travel arrangements
- Create documents in Word, Excel
- Maintain calendar
- Maintain contacts
- Sort and screen mail
- Coordinate vendors
- Pet care
- Organize spaces
- Administrative tasks
They were looking for a “Wife!” Right? I’m more than qualified!
Now I do all those things in my own home for no pay, and then I get to go to somebody else’s home and get paid to do the same things.
Oh, the irony.
Building A Resume?
Decades of motherhood have gone by.
There’s still one in the nest, one mostly out, and one fully, fully gone.
These same decades are the ones that kept me out of an office and off the career ladder.
These same decades have seen the birth of home computers, the internet, cell phones that don’t double as a briefcase, laptops, software, media of socialness, syncing of this thing with that thing, websites galore, smart this , and smart that.
In “Mom-years” it’s like 100 years ago that I’ve worked in an office environment.
Can you grasp this concept?!
Let me make it a little clearer.
The last time I commuted to work with the rest of the world, sat at a desk in an office, reported for work, Monday to Friday, I was using one of the first editions of Microsoft Word. Operating on Dos or Unix.
There wasn’t even a mouse. You had command functions.
There was no internet. Can you comprehend that? No internet. Nada.
Hell, I didn’t have a home computer until I was 38!
I don’t think our children can fathom walking to school in 2 feet of snow (which I did), and they sure can’t fathom not having been on a device of some kind since they were learning their ABC’s.
Just try to tell them your Computer Science class in college was learning with punch cards, and you’ll get a blank stare out of them. What the what?
I have held all these different part-time jobs for the sake of earning money.
It was merely extra money to add to the family pot.
It wasn’t to “build” a resume.
I was building a life with my children, my family.
Can I Get Hired, Please?
My youngest child will be headed off to middle school in another month where his day is practically like a work day. He will leave at 8:45am and not get home until 4:45pm.
His new schedule will give me more time on my hands. Time that actually resembles a fairly reasonable work day.
Great! Maybe I could find a full-time job.
Maybe I could give up doing the multiple jobs, and just have one to think about.
Maybe I could earn more money.
Maybe it’s time to explore some different options for my life.
Maybe I could reinvent myself!
If I hadn’t chosen my first job of being a stay-at-home Mom, then you bet my resume would be shiny and bright.
But I chose diapers and bottles and play dates and being there when they came home from school.
I chose taking them to the pool and the museums and the parks during the summer.
I chose them.
Now I’m paying the price of being a Stay-At-Home Mom.
Don’t get me wrong.
I wouldn’t have changed my choice.
I know that’s what I was meant to do.
But I do once in while wonder what I could’ve done, or accomplished, or earned had I been in the workforce.
I can’t get hired.
My resume screams part-timer, not young enough, not corporate savvy enough, not qualified.
I’ve reworked my resume a myriad of ways to try and look better, to pretty-up the things I’ve done, to outline my work life in some fashion befitting the “real work world.”
But I don’t look good on paper.
I’m not a fan of lying. So you can only embellish so much before it crosses a line.
How many ways can you rephrase dog boarder, craft lady, party organizer, volunteer, mom?
All you Stay-At-Home Moms out there know.
You know what it’s like to do everything.
You’ve managed EVERYTHING.
You’ve been the greatest domestic engineer of all time.
But in the real world that doesn’t seem to count.
I can barely get an interview. I’ve had one or two for a job in a real office, but I’m sure the other candidates appeared more qualified. Cause they were.
So here I am. Un-hire-able. Un-re-invented for the time being.
I may not have grown up to be a philanthropist. But I’m thinking there’s still time. You never know.
I’m happy to be a dog-boarding, personal assistant, writing Mom for right now.