As a stay-at-home mom who spends a lot of time with other stay-at-home moms there is one topic that we often roll back and forth with each other and that is the question of going back to work: when, where, should we, and would someone actually hire us if we tried. I went back to work when my son was under 2-months old and the experience was a disaster. Staying up on cross-time zone conference calls until midnight or beyond, only to have my baby wake up crying at 1 a.m. and then again at 4 a.m. for feedings, then dragging my exhausted carcass out of bed at 8 a.m. to start on-site meetings was beyond exhausting and excruciatingly lonely. Huzzybee and I agreed that I should try something that I previously viewed as unthinkable: becoming at stay-at-home mom (SAHM). Now, after a year and a half of being home with my son I have decided to hoist myself up on a thin shell of confidence and try to go back to work. At the moment I am knee deep in job interviews, and I have noticed a few things.
When you are a stay at home mom who is starting the process of job interviews and reentry into the working world…
1. You will get blisters on your feet from wearing high heels again. You will also teeter like a barfly in your blister-inducing high heels because you’re used to wearing something something more practical…like slipper socks.
2. You will be assailed by attacks of self doubt that result in counter-productive activities, like showing up for your interview an hour early, immediately stuttering out all of your inadequacies to the interviewer, or eating an entire carton of chocolate chunk ice cream the night before and getting an upset stomach.
3. You will encounter minivan driving SAHMs when you are out and about in your interview clothes and you want to yell at them “I’m one of you! This is just a disguise!”
4. You will listen without comprehension as the interviewer uses and bunch of newly-minted corporate words and trade terms that make no sense to you.
5. You will realize that interviewers don’t care about the time gaps in your resume, but they do care about your skills gaps, and instead of studying the latest trends in marketing data analysis you were on the floor playing puzzles with your two-year-old, or teaching him to kick a soccer ball for the last year and a half.
6. You will be passed over for a position because you “don’t have enough social media experience” even though you have a blog, several Pinterest accounts, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed and seriously, what American under the age of 50 doesn’t have social media experience these days?! No one, that’s who.
7. When someone actually does think that your skills and experience are still valid you question their judgment.
8. You have to refrain from referring to yourself in the third person, or as “momma”. For example, “momma worked closely with executive leadership to help restructure a struggling team and lead it back to financial solvency.”
9. Your business clothes don’t fit. Oh, and they are out of style…really, really out of style.
10. You talk about your kid too much in your interview, because your kid has basically been your boss for the last year. A very demanding, ill-tempered boss with poor social skills and a draconian view of work/life balance.
The thing about staying home from work with a small child for longer than a year is that you forget what you are capable of. Oh, you know that you are capable of changing a diaper by the dim glow of a night light at 4 a.m., and you know that you can keep a tiny person from managing to kill themselves, despite their best efforts by various methods (running into the street, falling off of chairs, eating cat food), but you don’t know if you can still make a pivot table in Excel or remember the vocabulary of business which sounds like one big inside joke to you now. It’s very hard to feel relevant when the only skills you have really managed to advance in a year and a half are patience and finger-painting.
Then again, those skills could be useful in a conference room. Finger-painting as a team building exercise. Hmm. That is one that I’ll have to mention in my next interview this afternoon…