Why every business should hire a mom
Without going into detail just yet, it does look like I’ll be returning to the work force after all, in some way shape or form. It’s not a full time gig, more likely freelance with some occasional time in the office, but still, it’s a REAL JOB with REAL ADULTS and I haven’t done that in almost four years.
There are a lot of things I’m sure I’m rusty at, including how to look like I should be in public before noon, but I gotta say that despite the typical nerves that anyone in my shoes would have, I think my time at home may have actually prepared me to be a better employee than I’ve ever been.
Or I’ll suck at this. It’s a toss up at this point.
My last (and only) job as a parent was ideal in so many ways, but my state of mind was not. I was required to work under 35 hours a week, whenever I wanted as long as I got my writing done. My boss also was a mother, and I worked primarily with other mothers, so I never felt like I had to apologize for missing a day for a doctor’s appointment, coming in late with throw up on my shirt or chattering all through lunch about all things baby. I also enjoyed what I did (writer in the marketing department of a community college) and made good enough money, so really there was nothing to complain about. Except me, possibly.
I was happy to go back to work after Declan was born. I enjoyed my brief maternity leave, and cried for a few minutes the first day I dropped him off at the sitter’s (not for long, though, I gotta be honest. The idea of peeing and eating at my discretion was REALLY exciting after 9 weeks of starving to death with a full bladder), but I had no issue being a “working mom.” In the beginning, things went relatively smoothly, but as Declan spiraled into his “I Hate Sleep and Anything to Do With It” phase, I became mentally exhausted, unmotivated, burned out and basically worthless at work, at home, in my marriage and in life. I never missed any deadlines or screwed up anything, but was pretty far from a “go-getter” or “self-starter” or any of those other things we all claim to be in our resumes. I was a drone, in other words.
When I was laid off from my job, I was upset at the loss of income and independence that comes with working, but I was secretly glad to let my mind rest a bit. Not that staying home with a 9-month-old is all that relaxing, especially one that hates sleep, but at least I could be a zombie at home with a drooling blob of fat rolls and just kinda lay around with him. It was some what of a relief.
Once I finally got into the groove of parenting and got a grip on things (not to mention got some much-needed sleep), I realized that a lot of the skills required to be a good worker absolutely apply to being successful at home. I’ve had to change out some skills for others, and I think those developments will serve me well in the future.
For one, in order to get ANYTHING done in a day, you have to be prepared for EVERYTHING. There is no time to waste, no waiting til the last minute. Because at the last minute, your baby will take a shit so big all of you have to change clothes. Seriously. You gotta be ready like 20 minutes early to get anywhere on time. That is a victory that has taken me years to accomplish.
I’ve learned to be extremely efficient with time, and prioritize how to put out fires all day. Because as a mom/homemaker, you are never doing just one thing. You may set out to make lunch, for example. Not so tough, right? PB&J, some fruit, some goldfish. Easy peasy. Except right around the time you get the Jif on the knife, a toddler comes in and wants to get out the pots and pans that are right at your legs. You anticipated this, so you grab some plastic utensils to give him, but then you have to keep one eye on him because you KNOW that spatula is going to be slinging cat food all over your kitchen in 10 seconds. You summon the 4-year-old to serve as a distraction. Maybe a funny dance will keep the toddler from throwing Purina all over the kitchen, right? So you make the sandwiches and sing a song and try to get everyone involved before their sugar drops and they go all Lord of the Flies on you. It takes mad skills.
Also, with kids, everything is a CODE MIDNIGHT EMERGENCY, such as “I CAN’T FIND MY BLUE CROC AND I WON’T WEAR MY GREEN CROCS!” or in Simon’s case, “WAHHHH!! AGH! GRUNT!” when anyone opens the cabinet that holds the beloved animal crackers. So you learn to quickly determine what IS most important and how to cross things off everyone’s list in a way that makes everyone happy.
The amount of patience one has to acquire just to survive a day is colossal. Tolerance toward annoying habits is tantamount as well. Think of the most annoying person you work with. A 4-year-old is worse.
So for anyone who is considering hiring a mom who has been out of the workforce for awhile, let this be a lesson: We may have been out of the office, but we haven’t been out to lunch. We’ve been honing our skills and gaining new ones, working constantly under insane conditions and getting almost no break at all. There’s little you could throw at us that we can’t handle. Because even in the worst workplace, nobody is expecting me to wipe their ass.