Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…

I have been out of the workforce for five years. It is the fashion equivalent to a passage of time back to when stirrup pants were popular.

Every moment, I become less relevant as policy change and forward motion dictate I have no place at the table. And, if I am sitting at the table, I should probably put on a bra.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about plunging back in. Next year, 3 of the 4 will be in some form of school. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit here, of all places, that I miss daily adult conversation and showering regularly. Besides, I could use a break. A lunch break.

But, on the ping-pong table of life, I am the ball being hit into the fray. I go back and forth between my desire to return to work, my desire to never return to work and the knowledge that I am no longer qualified, on paper, for any job. Truth be told, I was never qualified for any of the jobs I ever held. I had moxie. During my corporate tenure, moxie was enough to slowly climb the slippery ladder to the middle. After maxing out my moxie only to slide down a la Chutes and Ladders with a salute and a crash landing into, “This stay-at-home mothering stuff seemed easier when I was daydreaming about it behind my gorgeous desk!”.

So it goes. Reality is what happens when all of your dreams come true.

While I acknowledge, with mother-fucking gratitude, the time I’ve been given at home with my children, I must also admit that it has not been all love, light, roses and perfect library trips. Nothing ever is. While I worked, I thought of nothing other than being home. At home, I struggled to find myself outside of mom. Grass, green and brown on both sides with all the lovely shades in between.

It’s always complicated.

Daily, I hem. I haw. I haw. I hee. I think, re-think and over think.

I worry that the knowledge, skills and borderline psychic abilities I’ve obtained raising small children at home will not translate to a resume or, my biggest current fear, during an interview.

Will I strain out of my seat to remove a pen cap from the interviewer’s mouth. Will I eat his or her sandwich crusts? When an awkward question is asked, will I jump out of my chair to divert attention away; doing the hokey pokey and turning my self around? Is that really what it’s all about? Clap clap.

As I look at jobs available, I struggle to make the reach between what I think I’m worth in an office and what I know I’m worth at home. Putting a confident dollar amount over my head when I’d be happy with a Clark Bar and unfettered access to a bathroom I don’t have to clean.

The fact that I’m thinking about making the leap means it’s time to stop bouncing on the board. It’s almost time to dive and to translate everything the children have taught me about patience, trusting my gut, showing up whether you feel up to it or not and Damn. Hard. Work. into a new kind of office. The best bosses I’ve ever had preparing me for a new one I won’t love nearly as much.

As I come to grips with the truth that my need of them is starting to outweigh their need of me, I have to count to three, start to let go and maybe buy a collared shirt. And, somehow transform the amazing speed and efficiency I’ve developed over the years changing crap filled diapers into dollah-dollah-billz.

HEIGH-HO





Comments

  1. Good luck to you, Bethany. I know you’ll knock ’em dead. I think you underestimate yourself and having witnessed your moxie first-hand, YOU GOT THIS!

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you, Amy! Part of me is scared shitless. The other half is also scared shitless but, still remembers the moxie. Thanks for your sweet words and “GO GET ‘EM” pep talk.

  2. I’m considering something similar and find the prospect terrifying. I have been freelancing from home but fear I’ve lost the basic social skills to be with adults in a professional setting all day without doing the things you mention: eating their sandwich crusts at lunch, making up silly songs when meetings get tense, asking who’s turn it is to “press the red button” (i.e, hang up) at the end of a conference call.

    Do keep us posted with tips and tricks (or trips and tics, doesn’t matter).

    Good luck!

    • Bethany says:

      I’m so with you, Julia. My fear is only matched by my lack of determination. I know I need to do this for the good of my family, but, I’m terrified to jump in. The water seems cold and full of pants with buttons. I also know I’ll probably need to start at the beginning, which, is a very good place to start if you’re singing a song, but, career-wise, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

  3. “Whose”!!!!! not “who’s”!!!! See what I mean???????

  4. Leighan says:

    I’ve been interviewing for a job the last couple of weeks, and I just got the call this morning offering me the position…and that’s when the panic set in. Like you, I’ve been out of the workforce for the last 5 years. I’m terrified of leaving my kids for a few hours of actually thinking and focusing and adult conversation, even though I’m desperately excited by the idea. I’m terrified that after a couple of days of working, I’m going to regret my decision. I wonder how I’m going to get both kids ready to go and to wherever they going to go by the time I’m normally pouring my first cup of coffee. But I know that one everything gets worked out and settled, everything will be fine. And if I can do it, I know you can too. 🙂

    • Bethany says:

      Leighan, first, congratulations on the job offer. You DID IT! I think there is always second guessing when you make a big decision. Up until this point, in the back of my head, I knew I would “one day” go back to work but I didn’t expect that “one day” to come creeping behind me to stand so closely. It’s awkward to say the least. “One day” really needs to learn some boundaries. I know everything will be fine and that I’ll just transfer my stay at home mom guilt into another form of guilt that is equally as unproductive. Please keep me posted on the new job and way to kick ass, sister.

  5. Crystal says:

    My 4 kids (ages 5, 2, and 4 month old twins) are much younger than yours and I’m already starting to think about going back to work and it’s scary!! I’m scared of child care and day care and any other care that is not my own. I’m scared of going back to work just to get a job and realizing that the job is “below” me and I’m taking it just because I’ve lost my confidence that I can do more. I’m scared that my experience that I built before staying at home means nothing now and that I’ll have to take a position that I’m over-qualified for. So let me know how it goes for you…although I would love to have a lunch break…I know that I would miss the freedom to take my little ones to the park on the drop of a hat….even though the park usually involves 2 tantrums and at least 10 threats…LOL.

  6. I bitch about my job to an annoying degree, BUT I NEED to have somewhere to go, something to do, adults (albeit derelicts) to talk to. I took off 10 weeks with each of my two babies but have worked straight through other than that. It does sound terrifying – diving back in but I can sense your Moxie from way over here, so I am most confident that you will knock em dead!! I’m rooting for you! 🙂 <3 Devan

    • Bethany says:

      Devan, if you promise to stand behind me at all iof my nterviews with a huge smile, bottle of wine and pom-poms, I think I’ll be good to go. I’ll make sure they know we’re a package deal and that all offers must include a stipend for you.

  7. I had this same situation when my kids were littler. I struggled with the guilt of wanting to go back and the anxiety of worrying that I wouldn’t be as good. (Side note: I was actually better at my job–teacher–than before I had kids. The lessons we learn in parenting are far more valuable, and able to be translated to nearly ANY situation, than anything we learned earning degrees or in training.)

    It will be an adjustment. You will all figure out how to make it work for you. (Hiring a cleaning team was one way I made it work for me … I actually factored that $200 a month into the budget when we discussed me going back to work. Time is more precious … I was willing to give up going out to eat to have someone do my most loathed chores.) And, although I’m a newer follower of yours, I would say you’ve still got your moxie.

    • Bethany says:

      Thank you for this. Yes, all of your eloquent observation is what is running through my mind. Regret. Balance. Confidence (or lack thereof). And, I worry about the quality of the time I will have with them with school, work, etc. HOWEVER, a large part of me anticipates I will be more checked in and more in the moment with the kids when I return to work. That would be good for all of us. Thank you for reading.

  8. I know a lot of moms who have been struggling with this lately – some online and some “in real life.” Personally, I don’t really have a desire to go back to work right now, but I do wonder if I am qualified for anything anymore. I haven’t earned a paycheck in 10 years!!!!! I used to be a special needs preschool teacher, but due to many policy changes, my position as it was 10 years ago doesn’t even exist anymore. And, truthfully, I don’t think I could work with kids all day and then come home to my own kids, too. If I did go back to work, I have no ideas what I would do! Best of luck with whatever you decide!

    • Bethany says:

      Lisa, this is where I am right now. What am I qualified for in this new, corporate world? It’s amazing how much has changed since I left and, where do moms fit in? Do I have to start at the beginning (eeek!). That’s a tough pill to swallow. I’ve been riding the fence since our last was born. Acknowledging that it was time to start moving in the direction of employment, but, like you, was not ready to jump back in until very recently. And, I’m sure I’ll flip-flop at least one thousand more times…just today. Thanks for reading.

  9. Thank you for your post. I know so many people who are/have struggled with this, and it’s also relevant to those of us who chose jobs instead of careers, and are facing the idea of getting a “real job.” I’ve always gotten by on Moxie. And you know what, it’s often worth more than training or even experience. Put a positive spin on it. You have a fresh perspective. You are eager to learn. You have real life experience. You have an AMAZING sense of humor, and have learned tons of patience. And, you’ve learned the masterful art of cajoling and convincing babies and toddlers. I don’t know what you used to do, but I think all these skills would apply to some sort of fund-raising job. Charisma? You’ve got it. The ability to multi-task? Check. Please keep us posted as you leap! Just know you’re not leaping alone. You’ve got over 100 fans, real moms who’ve got your back. And some dads too (:

  10. Bah! You seem to hit right to the core of what I’m going through at just the right time (i.e. your article on the heartache of deciding not to have any more kids!) I’ve started trying to decide when I’ll go back to work lately. After being home with kids for 5 years (with a short “break” where I actually used my $80,000 masters degree to work for a year), I’m so torn about when to go back. The idea of not being home as long for my baby as I was for my older 2 kills me, but having not interacted with other adults, professionally in 5 years and not having an identity other than “mom” is killin’ me too! So, like you said, I guess the grass will always be greener, and as moms, our hearts will always ache for what we think we’re missing. Although it sounds pretty shitty, I know I’m one of the lucky ones and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks so much for this, Bethany!

  11. I totally get where you’re coming from. So far I have only gone back to work PT since becoming a Mom. I’m not sure what ill do when he starts kindergarten. However, I’ve been playing the lottery a lot, so I may have something else to fall back on.

  12. What’s so unfair is that the skills we learn as stay at home moms would make any CEO’s head spin and ask for mercy. I wish you luck and hope that somewhere inside of you, you know not only do you have what it takes to dive back into the workforce outside of the home, but that you’ll be teaching a lot of people things along the way. Good Luck:)

  13. When realized my almost four year old will be in school full time in just over a year, I thought, “Shit. Maybe I should have another baby”.

  14. I go back and forth on this one too, and in the past I *have* bounced back and forth. Whatever you decide, just remember you can always change your mind; sometimes reminding yourself it doesn’t have to be Forever takes some pressure off.

    You’ll make the right decision, and you’ll be great. No, you’ll be better than great – you’ll be you. xoxo

  15. These are things that run through my mind all the time! I’m not brave enough to even look for jobs yet, so you are my personal hero. Godspeed and know that I’m sitting here cheering you on. For you, I would even attempt to do a cartwheel or something similarly dangerous to add even more encouragement to my cheer!

  16. I have a bunch O’kids and have been on both sides of that fence. It’s never an easy decision; guilt comes in many flavors, as does self doubt. Just remember that just because you decide you would like to work again doesn’t mean it’s forever, like the previous poster pointed out, you can always change your mind. Rely on your moxie, an interview is more than what’s presented on your résumé. You’d be amazed at the number of educated people who look great on paper but couldn’t communicate their way out of a paper bag. Best of luck with whatever you choose!

  17. You’re right that since you’re even thinking about it, you should go for it! Best of luck!

  18. It’s a giant leap, but I bet you’ll make the right one.

  19. I beg to differ: your moxie and mad writing skills are good as any university-laden resume. GOOD LUCK!

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