I started back to work. For those who have worked all their lives that may sound like no big deal. For me, it was past scary; it was terrifying.
I hadn't been outside of my home to work in 15 years. Even though, on more than one occasion, I had had the age-old fight with my husband that I did contribute to the household finances by being at home, I began to wonder what I had to offer outside of it.
Still, I did not choose to leave the comfort of my own little empire, where I had control over my schedule and life, but it became necessary to do so. So, gathering all my courage and looking like a mole coming into the light, I took the first step: the resume.
What an eye opener!
Who cares if I can run a Cub Scout den, volunteer at the school paper, bake pies from scratch, and know where and with whom my children are? Nobody! I took to finding inventive ways of listing my talents.
On the child-care application, I wrote something like: "I am a full-time mom who planned and implemented a learning program that produced three active, healthy and productive children. Despite one nasty biting incident, all of them are well adjusted and liked."
Did it count? No!
On the maid application, my story was: "I own my home. It is clean, and the refrigerator has never seen mold."
The application then asked for my strong points. Thinking of the most daring thing I have ever done in my 39 years, I wrote something to the effect: "I drove the Alaska Highway before it was all 'paved' (only old-timers could appreciate this), while I was pregnant and with a toddler by my side." I was sure it proved I was resourceful, could multi-task and was of strong stock.
I didn't hear from them either.
How little I knew of modern-day job hunting came to light when I discovered some places have their applications online and did not want my excellent resumes. I went home and had to use my computer for something else besides watching DVDs and sending e-mail. I managed to find the Web site and get through the application without having to start over.
To my amazement, I got "the" call. You know, into phase two: the job interview.
It should not be called an interview. It should be called an inquisition. Next to giving birth, it was one of the hardest things I have done.
In fact, just getting to the interview proved difficult. I drove past the place where it was to take place twice, all the while trying to convince myself that food, shelter and clothes really are not that important. Two candy bars later, the need for food won out, and I went in. Shaking hands was the easy part because I was shaking like an out-of-balance washing machine.
I didn't get any of the really weird questions you hear about people being asked in interviews "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" but I was asked if I stole things. I don't, but who in their right mind is going to say yes?
When asked why I wanted to re-enter the work force, it took all I had not to blurt out, "First, being a mom is hard work, and two, only because I have to and as soon as I can I want to go back to being a full-time mom!" I was pretty sure it would not inspire confidence in me or help my long-term prospects.
Instead, I told the interviewer that it had become necessary financially.
I left thankful I hadn't drooled and babbled too much and praying that I got the job so I would never have to go through another interview. It wasn't to be. Many more interviews lay ahead. While interviewing became easier, it was the only thing that has.
After reading this, I am sure you are as stunned as I am that I moved into phase three, but I did manage to find two part-time jobs. One is the reason you are reading this. I spend my lunch hour driving between the two. I found out I got one job because I have a firm handshake (thanks, Dad). The other job came about through "networking" volunteer-style meaning that I gave my time and talent for free and this time I got something back. I was a little disappointed it wasn't for those fabulous resumes I made, but I am grateful nevertheless.
So began phase four: my new reality.
This part I am still adjusting to, along with my boys. My new reality is that I can never work at a hotel because my refrigerator now knows mold on a first-name basis. I can't work daycare because my children are pretty much alone, and I think that they might be regressing. I recently detected faint bite marks. I no longer cook and have discovered that Mrs. Smith makes pies in a much shorter amount of time than I do.
Of all the things I could foresee happening with going back to work missing out on my son getting his driver's license, not seeing my youngest receive a hard-earned Boy Scout badge and no longer getting to eat dinner with them I was not prepared for the cold shoulder from some full-time moms I know.
I have been to office parties with my husband where as soon as someone found out I was a stay-at-home mom, I got that "look" and was excluded from conversations. I would have never imagined that I could go to a school activity and receive "the look."
It wasn't really the look that got me, it was the comment: "Well, if you have to, but your kids sure are going to suffer." At first I was upset, but I have learned several things in the short time I have been in the work force, including:
One, I can't count to three and have my co-workers do whatever I tell them to do.
Two, make-up is overrated. If you can get 20 more minutes of sleep instead, do it.
Three, PJs don't count as office dress.
And, four, whatever I need to do to care for my family is what I need to do. As long as I talk to my kids so they know what is going on and make these life changes a team effort, we are going to be OK.
Besides, I still know where and with whom they are hanging out. Cell phones were invented not just to keep businesses rolling along, but to help moms who have to or want to work keep up with their kids.
I can't wait till phase five: retirement. Until then, my kids are learning to cook, my husband has learned to clean the kitchen and I have managed not to get fired.
Life is blessed.
Nan Misner works at the Peninsula Clarion.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.