I've often pondered what it would be like to return to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for several years. While I know I've moved mountains in the time I haven't worked, my proof of performance would never show on a traditional resume.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Attached you will find my resume.
I'm sure you will have a few questions.
Well, really, just one question. As all other potential employers have.
Why the substantial time gap in your work experience?
Yes, it's true. I haven't had a "real" job in more than three years.
Please, let me explain.
Prior to 2011, I was a TV news reporter and anchor. I'm not sure if you know, but it's one of the most competitive jobs on the planet. I wasn't very well-known or extremely talented, but I was good enough to keep my job for over eight years, and I was even nominated for an Emmy once.
But, when I gave birth to my first child, everything changed.
I decided to stay home with him.
On my resume, that time is represented by an expansive white space.
But, I think you should know that I actually have been working.
At being a mother.
In truth, I'd probably try to return to my previous job, but there are some huge problems with working in TV news (and most competitive or relatively well-paid professions that require a four-year degree). I would be working 50+ hours per week, including odd hours, weekends and holidays. And, even during my "time off," I'd be expected to be available 24/7 to respond to an unending stream of work-related emails, texts and phone calls.
That just doesn't work for my life anymore.
Right now, since all you can see is a huge white space on my resume, I'd like to fill in that blank by sharing the skills I've acquired in the past three years. Although I haven't been part of the workforce, I have been a force that, with the help of a small village, is creating something really really important.
I'm an extremely hard worker. For instance, when my newborn wouldn't sleep for almost a week straight and my husband was out-of-town on business, I didn't give up. I found a book about sleep training, read it cover-to-cover, and within a few nights, my son was sleeping.
Not that it's of any interest to you, but I also happen to be a great negotiator. I can convince a toddler to eat broccoli, go potty in the toilet and wear shoes outside because I am dedicated to what I want. I'm also great at compromise.
I'm also growing in patience. In fact, one day last week, my baby was throwing a tantrum on the floor while simultaneously pulling my yoga pants off as I was trying to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was about to lose it, but instead, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Because I didn't want to scream at that precious little person down there.
I always complete a task. When my son didn't want to share his little yellow dump truck with his friend at the park, I had three different talks with him that eventually shaped his decision to let his friend have a turn. In those 20 minutes, I helped mold the character of someone who will live far longer than I.
And that legacy goes well beyond breaking a big story or interviewing the Governor.
This might also be a good time to mention that I'm great under pressure. When I was a reporter, I stayed calm amidst even the most impossible deadlines and breaking news situations. And now, as a mother, I'm able to lace my frayed nerves into a soft blanket of calm when my children are having simultaneous tantrums on the floor of Publix. (Well, maybe 80 percent of the time. But that's still pretty good.)
So, you see, although my child-rearing years are represented by a void on my resume, in my life, they actually represent the richest, deepest and most successful, yet challenging chapter thus far.
Come to think of it, in the last three years, I've had plenty of successes that have no place on my resume.
I can carry another person in my body for 9 months, and then sustain them for a year more.
I can make up the words to a lullaby off the top of my head.
I can coax a baby to sleep with nothing more than the sound of my voice.
I can look into my child's eyes and speak the most affirming words he'll ever hear in his life. And then send him into the world, with the knowledge that he knows he is valuable and strong and capable of whatever he decides to work for.
I appreciate you taking the time to consider my work experience. I realize that, on paper, it may appear that I haven't made any valuable contributions in recent years, but I hope this letter has shown that my worth has actually grown exponentially.
A stay-at-home mom
P.S. Please know that there will be no hard feelings when you discard this letter and decide to hire a 20-something who doesn't mind living for their job.
Formerly an Emmy-nominated TV news reporter, Janie Porter is the creator of SheJustGlows.com and (often-unshowered) stay-at-home mama to two boys under 3 years old. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more posts about less-than-perfect parenting, juice and smoothie recipes and tips on finding your inner glow.