Mom: 2003-Present

I spent a good chunk of yesterday writing a proposal for a blogging gig I think I’ve decided not to apply for. Then I took the opportunity to update my résumé . When Dan got home, I gave him my daily explanation for why the house looked like… our house… and told him how glad I was that my credentials were in order and looking strong. It feels good to know that I’ve still got it and I could go out and get a job if I wanted to.

He laughed and said, “Are you planning on leaving me or something?” Hrm. No. But then I started thinking. Why was this so important to me?

When I was pregnant with Laylee, I was working on hiring new employees for the library where I worked. We had TONS of résumés from mothers whose kids were older and who were ready to get back into the workforce. I had a hard time choosing a candidate who had a 15-20 year blank spot on their résumé over someone who had been steadily working on education or tangible work-related projects. They just didn’t measure up in my book. At that point I was fairly sure I would quit and stay home after Laylee was born. I was planning to become a SAHM who would one day come back to work and even I didn’t relish the thought of hiring one and breaking her in.

That night I went home and “bawled out my eyes” (as Laylee would say). “No one’s ever going to want to hire me again. I’m going to lose all my skills and credibility. People don’t value motherhood as experience. Wah, wah, wah wah.”

Then I thought about it. Several of those women had been stay-at-home moms but their résumés did not reflect a gaping hole in their lives. Their lives had been filled with community leadership roles, continuing education courses, part time jobs or contract work from home.

It hit me that staying home with my kids did not mean dropping into a black hole for 20 years. I decided that my mission would be to stay current on technology, continue to read, educate myself and engage in projects that could be quantified on paper.

I frequently hear women talk about getting an education or mastering job skills “in case” something happens to their husband or “in case” of divorce.

I say do it in any case. Find something marketable you love to do and learn how to do it well. Take classes online or at a local college. Finish your degree or follow one of your passions and then write it down so that you have credentials ready at a moment’s notice.

Not only will making or keeping yourself employable bring you a sense of pride and security, but it will help you stay confident that you are staying home to mother because you CHOOSE to stay home and not because there’s nothing else you can do. It will remind you that you are married to your husband because you CHOOSE to be and not because you feel trapped or financially dependent on him. I believe it will strengthen your marriage and make you a happier mom.

A healthy dose of independence and the lingering possibility that you could live without your spouse makes it all the more meaningful that you choose not to. Knowing that you are capable and qualified to work outside of your home makes those rough days with your kids more bearable as you tell yourself that you have your choice of careers and you choose to be with them all day because you think it’s valuable and you are frugal and/or fortunate enough to work without pay for a decade or two.

I challenge all you ladies out there to take an hour and really hammer away at your résumés. If you wouldn’t want to hire you, then make one small goal towards changing that. (This is a great exercise even for women currently in the workforce. Prove to yourself that you have options other than your current job and if those options are more appealing, take the plunge!)

I’d really love to hear your thoughts, goals and progress on this.

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37 Responses to Mom: 2003-Present

  1. motomom says:

    Lots of good points. I totally agree…

    I always knew that for me raising my family came first, then later a job/career. But always family first. I found it easy to break back into the work force by being a “Lunch Lady” in our school district. This allowed me to work only when my kids were in school, as well as bring in a little extra money. It also added something to my resume after a 7 year gap. I then went back to school, our community college offers many evening classes. I am just a few credits shy of a Paralegal Degree and currenlty work as an Administrative Assistant for a Financial Advisor. During the years as a SHM I was also involved in a Women’s Organization that allowed me to add volunteer work as well as leadership skills to my resume.
    For those who are currently SAHM’s I offer this from my resume, when I was applying for an internship with an attorney I took advantage of assistance offered at the college to fine tune my resume. Here is what I did for those 7 years, and although my husband may think differently I did not sit on the couch all day eating bon-bons and watching soaps.

    Homemaker June 1994-September 2001

    Performed a wide variety of tasks as needed, including day-to-day operations, correspondence and file management, maintenance of multiple schedules and meeting the physical, emotional, and developmental needs of two children.

  2. Suzi says:

    I think it is a great idea. I’ve been a SAHM for over a decade, but I finished a degree during those early years and since then have worked part-time. I’ve only worked 6-9 hours a week. Thankfully those hours have been in my field which makes me stay current. Any job, though, would keep the resume filled.

    I updated my resume last night. Something must be in the air.

  3. Beth says:

    Hear! Hear!!! What a great, empowering post! I have to admit that part of my decision to go back to school was to give me a back up plan should something happen to my husband…..BUT…the largest part of it….the most important part is, that I want to do it for me. My small child parenting is over and my kids are growing more independent. I want to do many things with my life, motherhood is just the icing on my cake.

    This was a great post Kathryn. You have such a wonderful way with words and you have such a positive influence over so many people.

  4. Heather says:

    That was great info, thank you for that. I have been a SAHM for 3 1/2 years now and there are days that I wonder what this has done to my career. I have started taking classes to finish another degree that I had started before my child was born. I think this has opened up so many more opportunities that I wouldn’t have done otherwise.
    Thank you for letting me think that I have made some good choices in returning to school. I do feel that raising my child and soon children are the best career choice for me as well as my family.

  5. Jill says:

    I recently applied for 2 library positions. These were 15 hour a week positions paying just above minimum (I haven’t completely figured out what I would do for child care if I was making that little.) I have a 7 year SAHM in my resume and before that professional sallaried IT positions that have little to do with this job. I guess they found people with better credentials. I can’t go back and fill these 7 years with anything except what I’ve already chosen to do. There were no professional classes, there was no civic involvment; there was only making it through the day with everyone alive.

  6. Ali says:

    It’s interesting that you post THIS today, because I am trying to figure out how I want to earn some extra cash without overburdening myself and my family, and I am thinking about heading your route. Writing from home and using blogging as more of a job than just for fun. I just don’t know where to start. Any tips you have would be great. Hope to hear from you about this.

  7. grammyelin says:

    Man am I glad that I actually started working on that on-line course (that I registered for 2 months ago) this week. Otherwise this post would have made me feel guilty. Lucky me!

  8. heather says:

    I keep waiting for the kids not to need me so much. I want to join the Chamber of Commerce, I want to volunteer for a non-profit. I want to docent at the art museum. but the question is what do I do with the little ones? I can’t afford child care, so I anxiously hover over them waiting for them to be in school for 4-5 hour chunks of time. Time that I can go out and pursue those things.

    It is hard, not all of us have talents that we can quantify from our homes.

  9. sarah k. says:

    I just decided to learn Greek. I’m not sure how that will help my non-existent resume.

  10. I really haven’t been able to do much from home. I’ve tried lots of things, home parties, even became a Tupperware manager, but they take so much time from my family that I wasn’t really “home” when I was home, and face it, I wasn’t always home doing those jobs.
    The only thing I’ve really done successfully from home was babysitting, and that just stinks for the family, too. But, I’m headed that way again. Or a night job, and that is not fun either.
    I did part time work out of the home, and it was fun, but not worth it, except for my self-esteem at the time. Now I know that when my kids are older, I don’t really care about a career because I won’t need money when they are sucking it out of us faster than we can make it! I’ll have the time to work on something or nothing. If my dh dies, I’ll really never have to work again because of his life insurance policies! (he’s worth more dead than alive, I tell ya!)

  11. April says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I love this post. I believe whole heartedly that women need to stay busy in other worthwhile ventures while they are staying home with their children. I believe that continuing education is so important whether is just reading a book, volunteering, or taking classes through the community’s public programs. I think it sets a good example for the kids and it keeps your brain functioning. I love to talk to mothers who constantly read or are learning something new. There’s only so long you can talk about your child’s bowel movements. It’s nice to find a woman with a brain in her head that has interesting things to talk about! Thanks again for the inspiring post.

  12. Pokeyann says:

    I recently had to think very hard on what I would do if this little life of mine changed drastically….and it terrified me. I went through a few moments of feeling trapped and financially dependant. Even though things worked out for the better, I feel much more confident and independant now that I have a plan for the “if”. And figuring out my “if” plan actually helped the serious problems I was experiencing with my husband, I found my confidence again. VERY valuable to do this. I’m glad you discovered this without a major heartache.

  13. Sheena says:

    Thank you!
    Well put! I must point out that it’s a good dose of humble pie for the guys as well as they tend to get a little big headed at times when you’re a stay at home mom. For them to also realize that we don’t depend on them because we can’t do anything else but that we choose to stay with the kids because we want to is a good healthy set up in my opinion.
    p.s. I just started school online! woohoo! And you’re right it does feel good to have that extra something in your life that makes you grow.

  14. Eve says:

    Here Here! I’m in total agreance with you on this. We are so lucky to live in a time where classes are accessable no matter where we live, as long as we have Internet service.

  15. mother of the wild boys says:

    I’ve had “put together a resume of volunteer work” on my to-do list for about a year now…and I think you just gave me the motivation I need to actually do it! I’ll let you know when I finish it… and thanks for the encouragement. (Mom: 2001-present) 🙂

  16. Kimberly says:

    I really feel the need to solidify my plans for the future. I plan to go back to school once the kids are all in school. But for what? To what purpose? I’ve no earthly idea, and that worries me sometimes. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

  17. Checkers says:

    I’ve been a SAHM for almost 3 years (has it been that long?!) and when my first baby was 10 months, I became a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator. It’s been so good for me and my family! I take it at my own pace (my last workshop was in January) but I have enough customer support that I can stay active and support my scrapbooking hobby without using my husband’s hard-earned $$. It’s been such a blessing for me to have a business to work on when the kids are napping and I can work it as hard (or soft) as I want! Plus, I get a night out with the girls to do what we love, SCRAPBOOK!!

  18. Cousin Deb says:

    This is an amazing post. I am in total agreement. You are wonderful!!!

  19. jk2boys says:

    I have never had a good paying job/career…I just had a job or two that helped me finish my two year degree, then I started having kids.
    I see what you are saying, but I don’t know what I could do for my resume. I feel a little stuck on that one….It would be too stressful for me (and my family) if I went back to school or got another job.
    I do want to be more active in developing my talents and mind. Right now I am just trying to declutter my house. Then maybe I’ll have the room to develop s’more skills…(like bowhunting skills, ‘puter hacking skills, jk)
    But seriously, being a SAHM is definately hard, and I need breaks, but I know it’s where I should be right now. And I know I am fortunate that I can stay home. I’m mostly loving it. And I think my husband is just as dependant on me as I am of him. He may “bring home the bacon”, but we don’t pay for day care. Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And I think he was a pretty smart guy. So, I think, as a SAHM, I can “make” money by saving money. And that makes me feel good.
    But I could do more for myself sometimes, to develop some talents that I can be proud of.
    To feel good about what I’m capable of and to create opportunities for myself for now or later.
    But like I said, as for my resume, I have no clue!

  20. KYouell says:

    This topic is heavy on my mind. I took the test to become a Certified Sign Language Interpreter while pg the first time. He was a good luck charm and I passed, but that means earning CEUs in order to keep my certification. I’ve hardly worked at all since he was born and really don’t want to do the all-day Saturday workshops that most people go to for CEUs. So what’s a SAHM to do when she has to keep up those skills or lose the career she worked for so hard completely? Becoming certified was a life-long dream and I really don’t want to lose it. I think that more than updating my resume I need to focus on those CEUs. There are independent study options, etc. and I had better start looking into it.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants, DYM!!!

  21. Melissa HC says:

    Just out of curiousity, why didn’t they measure up in your book? Would you still make that same decision now if you were hiring for the library? Or has being a stay-at-home mom changed you? From my mother’s experience, when we were grown and she tried to re-enter the workforce, she had a very tough time with discrimination because she had chosen to stay home. She was dismissed until she demanded to be given a chance, and then proved that she was more qualified for the position than the other candidates and had three job offers that day. I worked from home during the first year of my oldest child’s life and then quit when the second came (close together, I know). But in many ways, I felt like I either resented the time spent working or the time the child needed me because I had to work on a deadline. I also feel that I am learning skills that will help me in the workforce again when I formally re-enter…but I am interested in hearing how others react to those who don’t pursue outside “marketable” skills.

  22. I think we need to broaden what we include in “marketable” skills. There are so many ways to do this without intruding on your family time. Much of what I was talking about just includes recognizing things you are already doing and learning how to quantify them. I’ll write a follow up post tomorrow. Your comments have given me a lot to think about.

  23. What a great idea. I’m surprised it never occurred to me before. I’ll have to work on it. Thanks!

  24. Heather says:

    This post is very interesting, so far I have never felt the need or been concerned about the now 7 years of non-employment gap in my resume. I have a four year degree but chose to not enter the work force in my field. I only wanted that security of having the degree under my belt before having my children and staying at home with them. I don’t know if I will ever choose to work outside of the home, but I have put into place precautions that will enable me to take my time to figure things out “in case of an emergency” and need to go into the work force. I sometimes feel when my children are in college I may return to further my education but right now I’m receiving all of the education I need from my house full of little ones.

  25. Alissa says:

    i thought for sure that i totally fit into that huge blank spot category until recently i realized… i totally have a photography business going on… that totally counts… even tho i’m still SAHM.

  26. elliespen says:

    That’s why I’m going to law school in the fall, baby — better options. Then once we’re able to have children I can switch careers again and be a SAHM, but if necessary do a bit of work on the side. (This is all my backup plan in case I never sell a bajillion copies of a novel.)

  27. Barb says:

    Great post. My husband wants out daughters to have a potential career even if they are SAHM’s just so that they can “kick the loser out if they need to” – referring to their future husbands(!!!)

  28. Amen to that post. Just because we our stay-at-home-moms doesn’t mean our life and resume need to go into cold storage. There are so many valuable things we are doing right now. Moms are probably some of the best people to hire … who else can be creative and multi-task like no tomorrow?

  29. Katherine says:

    I’ve been a stay at home Mom for the past 8 years. It’s been a mixture of happy, sad, ups and downs–but totally worth it. Recently I filled out an application for a temp job and there was no gaping hole. I put down all my “community service” I had done over those years of not working for a profit. My church callings, school involvement, and even some applicable college research projets were added to “sell” my skills. The lady looked at my resume and was impressed and talked to me about jobs that interested me–no flipping burgers or wiping down tables! it’s all about perspective—SAHM work pretty dang hard for our families and the communities in which we serve, we just gotta give ourselves the credit.

  30. RGLHM says:

    Amen Amen and Amen. I am printing this one out FOR SURE!!! Again, how is it that you write exactly what I’m thinking of and far better than I ever could??

  31. RGLHM says:

    “When Dan got home, I gave him my daily explanation for why the house looked like… our house…”

    I think we were separated at birth.

  32. RGLHM's husband says:

    I never come to this blog, and I rarely ever comment on blogs. But I am studying right now, so I need any excuse to get out of the books.

    I remember when RGLHM and I got engaged, a couple of people asked me if she was going to finish her education degree. I found it amusing that they were asking me, not her. Anyhow, my standard answer became “I expect for her to be able to provide for herself and my children when I leave her.” People were shocked and dismayed by this comment. As they should be. What I was trying to convey (in a not so subtle way) was that we didn’t know the future, and that it is our responsibility to prepare for it the best we can.

    Looking back on it, maybe I shouldn’t have encouraged her to finish her degree, as now she can drop me like a bag of rocks whenever she feels like (which I am sure is more often than she is willing to admit) and leave me. Maybe I should’ve told people that she was getting her degree in order to keep my on my good behavior.

  33. Steff says:

    I too am a Mom since 2003. My greatest fear the entire time I was pregnant with him was that we would never be able to afford for me to stay home with him and I would have to let someone else take care of my baby. I was on maternity leave for 17 weeks and discovered we could survive on my husbands income since we wouldnt be paying for all the meals out and day care but it would mean losing our insurance. Then shock of all shocks I went back for my dr appt. the one scheduled for the great birth control adventure of getting an IUD…..and the DR says, we cant do this….your pregnant. My sons are 9 months and 24 days apart. Knowing I was pregnant with the second made the decision to quit my job a little easier and the first year was ok. By the middle of the second year (yanno, with 2 of them now) while packing our entire house by myself, because Chris got a better job on the road, my greatest fear had become that we would never be able to afford for me to go back to work.
    Now that both of them will be in pre k in August, my fears are somewhere in between.
    I have done half a dozen different kinds of home businesses, and recently taken up decorating our house and refinishing old tables etc that I find at yard sales and such. I will have the ability in August to start looking at finihsing my degree and not one clue in my head as to what I want it to be in. I dont have any desire anymore to finish criminal justice or education….which way do I go?

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post. I needed this tonight.

  34. geekbert says:

    What an inspirational post! My wife recently went back to work after 9 years at home full time with our three daughters. She did what you said. She maintained her credentials with community and church roles.

    I have to say too that her working full time now has really given us new dimensions of appreciation for each other. She jokes that sometimes it’s like we’re living in Bizarro World. My business is home based so she’s dubbed me, Larry the House Husband! Our marriage is stronger.

  35. Jane says:

    This was a thoughtful post, and I’m glad it made me think about my own decisions. Thanks for spurning me to reflection.
    Sometimes I tell my husband, “I would choose you again and again.” I’m glad I feel the same way about being a SAHM: I really would choose to do this again every time. But I personally don’t feel that my conviction about that choice and my willingness to make it again, given the chance, is any stronger OR weaker because of the up-to-dateness of my resume. I’m all for pursuing the intellectual/leadership/service endeavors that bring you fulfillment and keep your skills honed. And those things will absolutely help you should you need/want to re-enter the workforce, but I just don’t believe that it has to necessarily determine your conviction about your choice to be a SAHM in the first place.
    “Not only will making or keeping yourself employable bring you a sense of pride and security, but it will help you stay confident that you are staying home to mother because you CHOOSE to stay home and not because there’s nothing else you can do. It will remind you that you are married to your husband because you CHOOSE to be and not because you feel trapped or financially dependent on him. I believe it will strengthen your marriage and make you a happier mom.”
    This felt a little off to me, almost like saying, “If you stay in great shape and looking hot, then you’ll know you could get another man if you wanted to, and you’ll appreciate your husband all the more because you’re choosing to be with him, knowing that you could leave him and attract someone new if you wanted to. Your marriage will be that much stronger.” That’s not a perfect comparison (and no, let’s hope none of us ever thought that a hot bod alone would get us a man!) but that’s the comparison that sprung to my mind. Should we stay in good physical shape because it feels good and helps us be happy? Sure! Does it make us feel more secure about the choice we made to marry our current husband if we’ve left open the option to marry another? No.
    Many women really do have more than enough on their plate while being full-time moms that it would seem overwhelming to also be working on resume building experiences. That’s okay! Some women do have the time and energy to do more outside the home. Great! But both can feel equally confident that they have chosen their paths and aren’t stuck.
    I like the way you broadened the idea of what can be used for “credentials.” Those are good ideas, and there is great value to feeling like you would be qualified to get a job if you needed/wanted to. I guess my point is just that you don’t need to have those credentials in order to feel like you’ve made the conscious choice to stay at home. I’d hate for moms who made that choice once to think, “Wow, my resume isn’t really up to date. I guess I am stuck, and now I’m not choosing this of my free will.”
    Sorry if that rambles…I appreciate your thoughtful analysis on this topic and the chance it’s given me to reflect on the choices I’ve made. Thanks! Hope you’re open to discussion/debate that stems from the pondering you’ve initiated!

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  37. Lori says:

    Interesting post. My friend and I have been hashing this out for a while now and she directed me over here.

    I’ve always wondered if my homeschooling sorts of things would “count” as work experience. We’ve been homeschooling for 7 years and now I’m teaching high school, jr. high, and elementary school, as well as managing twin toddlers. Surely that should count for something!

    And I had to laugh about the “why our house looks like…our house”. That is so not my special gift!

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