I am a stay at home mom, but I actually became unemployed a few months before I became pregnant. I had worked in the call center of a bank for several years and when they merged with another bank, I received a severance check and a ticket home. I had been working full time ever since I was seventeen, and I thought I would enjoy my new freedom. I made great plans to learn to sew, to read all of the great works of literature and develop an exercise regimen that would in turn develop, um, me.
Like all dreams, this one too began to fade. I found I had little patience for sewing, I’ve never liked exercise, and the literature of old white men can be a bit…well, blah. There was only so many times I could vacuum before I was out of things to do around the house, and I wasn’t used to not having a huge to-do list. I found that I didn’t really like being at home, and made plans to find a job soon. My husband and I were in the middle of trying to conceive, and lo and behold, found ourselves pregnant, so I decided to let go of finding a job and become a stay at home mom.
Anyone who thinks that staying at home with children is not a job should try it for a week. (Admittedly, most crack within seventy-two hours, but the extra would allow them never to forget!) The job of a mother is challenging, rewarding and did I mention never-ending? I don’t keep office hours, not that my children would honor it if I did. They are just three and one years old, after all! When I have a sick child, I don’t get to say “Oh, it’s five o’clock, sorry I’m off the clock!” Same goes for nightmares or bed wetting.
While being a stay at home mom is infinitely wonderful, I have been thinking about jobs lately. I dream that I apply for a job with McDonald’s, and they tell me I don’t have enough work experience. The thing that turns this into a nightmare for me is the fact that it might one day come true. I am going to college with the expectancy that I will eventually graduate and get a job in my field of study. I wonder about the perils of job interviews. How different that will be when I find myself searching again. And of course there is the fact that I will graduate when I’m, oh, say, thirty, after having been out of the workplace for six years or so.
Now, of course I know people go through this. It is certainly more acceptable for a woman than for a man, but it still doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult. I won’t be a fresh-faced graduate who went straight from high school to college, or a woman who held down jobs while working on her degree. In today’s economy it is hard enough to find jobs already, and I’ll be starting with a handicap.
I don’t regret my decision to be at home with my children, and I plan to continue doing it. It would just be easier if tending to skinned knees and reading bedtime stories counted for something on a resume!