When you make the decision to take a chance on hiring a woman who has stayed home with her kids, you are getting a far more capable individual than you may give them credit for. The idea that a woman isn’t equal to a man in capabilities is preposterous enough. Women bring a whole other perspective to just about everything, but underestimating the value of the experience of a well read, intelligent, competent, kick ass stay-at-home mom is the true ignorance of our society.
In this case, I just have to assume that the employer’s bias is directly proportional and equal to his/her ignorance, and should be taken as a sign that what this mom has to offer is far too valuable for a company that would underestimate a woman’s abilities simply because she stayed home for a period of time. The years she spent working no longer matter, and that’s a shame. I know, personally, that there are some very valuable skills gained from staying home with the kids. Clearly, some people have never truly understood what it is that moms do all day. True, there are usually bad apples in every bunch, but assuming that all are rotten… that’s just a mistake. I certainly respect working mothers. I was one for a period of time, but staying home is a whole other adventure. For those of you in the dark, here is a brief list of the skill set a stay-at-home mother brings to the table:
The ideal (Mom) candidate must possess:
The ability to multi-task.
Are you serious? Ha! That’s in the bag. You don’t quite understand multi-tasking until you’re 3 loads into laundry with a machine bubbling out soap, a dryer that isn’t drying because the dogs caved in the vent tube outside, have a child climbing the counter, one who is bleeding and crying for yet-to-be determined reasons. All of this chaos happening while you’re on the phone conducting business with the cable provider and handling it all as calmly as you possibly can. This is a daily, and ever changing situation that we are required to keep up with.
The ability to adapt to any situation.
Every single day in this job is different so you have to be able to adapt to ever changing, and constantly shifting, high pressure situations. If you haven’t mastered the ability to adapt, you probably haven’t stayed at home with kids. McGyver would be extremely jealous of some of the situations we’ve engineered or rigged a solution for and adapted to in a brief moment in time. Try being 30 minutes from the nearest store, and without baby wipes with a kid who just puked everywhere and shit all down the back of his legs. Some paper towels and fountain water will fix that right up, and a grocery store plastic sack serves as a nice mess preventative in case there is another attack of explosive diarrhea on the way home. Yes, this has really happened.
The ability to learn new skills.
You are required to be a full time chef, a full time referee, a full time counselor, a full time driver, a full time housekeeper, a full time financial analyst, a full time bookkeeper, a full time Accounts Payable specialist and accountant in general, a full time volunteer (with lots of kids and other parents in rooms full of new people so you’ve got to be personable and relatable!), a full time scheduler and planner, an event planner, a business manager, a negotiator, a nurse, a writer (for all of those notes and emails you send to the school, politicians, that company that cheated you out of your warranty, etc.) and this list continues to grow in new skill sets with prolonged experience. Don’t forget that you are on-call 24/7. No sick days, no “vacation” days, and no exceptions.
The ability to follow instructions.
No one understands this better than a mom who has had to give her child a suppository because they ate too much cheese and are now fully in the throes of the misery of constipation. That’s a delicate area, and a sensitive subject so the ability to follow directions is paramount. Likewise, the instructions for art projects are crucial to follow to a “T” for those of us who are raising incredibly particular children whose art projects are all wrong if everything isn’t just so. You bet your ass we can follow instructions, and probably find improvements for the process along the way. To illustrate my point, I really believe the child suppository companies need to include instructions for properly securing a distraught and unruly child. That would really benefit the moms out there trying to figure out how to hog tie a kid for their own safety and benefit. However, since the instructions do not currently include an acceptable means to pin down a distraught and miserably constipated toddler, we all are currently just winging it (the ability to learn a new skill in action!).
The ability to demonstrate efficiency and deliver projects in a timely manner.
Ah, efficiency. This one should require no explanation, but since we’re here, lets do it.
-Doctor’s appointments, getting 4 children ready for a wedding that starts at 11 a.m.(don’t these fucking people know I’ve got 4 kids? Getting 4 children ready for recitals and performances (hair, make-up, costumes) while maneuvering melt downs, temper tantrums, fights, etc. (Make-up Artist, Seamstress, Counselor, Referee…here we are multi-tasking and using multiple skills simultaneously!)
-Birthday parties. Yes, the ability to entertain a bunch of strange kids and their strange parents in chosen, but forced social situations (doing what’s best for the whole of the organization, and being a team player!) requires efficiency (let’s not forget being personable and the ability to work with difficult personalities!). The food needs to be done on time, the cake has to be ordered with enough notice prior to the event and decorations have to be made or purchased in time (Event planning 101), the games and activities have to be engaging (and maybe exhausting enough that people want to leave early), the budget has to be adhered to (financial advising and managerial accounting!), and all of it done in the effort to keep things as smooth and seamless as possible. Every detail is considered in the hopes that people will not linger for too long afterward because you’re fucking tired from all of the efficiency you’ve exhibited and the entertaining you’ve done (remember not to be so personable that they actually like you and want to stay and chat)…so now you need a bottle of wine that you don’t want to be judged for guzzling, and maybe Netflix and a nap.
The ability to be a team-player.
Again, I’m not sure why I’m even having to justify this one, but it’s a skill set that’s important enough to reiterate. Being a team player as a stay-at-home mom, or hell, even a working mom? Why yes, yes we absolutely are! You know that perfect job you were offered that you couldn’t take because it was too far from the kids’ school and home and would have completely thrown your life out of order and balance? Of course you remember! How could you forget? Way to take one for the team, mom! Or, what about sitting through an hour long conversation with the mom of your child’s best friend while feigning interest because you know that your son would be devastated if they were no longer allowed to have play dates? Or how about those conversations at your kids’ activities with the mom who bitches about everything and is completely self-absorbed and believes her child is the best at everything? You sit and nod politely because you know this sport means the world to your child even though they are not the best at everything and you’d sure hate to ruin the team dynamic. Or what about that manicure and pedicure appointment you had been looking forward to for so long that you had to cancel because your daughter found a dead butterfly. She was completely devastated and insisted that you have a funeral for it immediately! How about that doctor’s appointment you made because you’ve been sick for a week, but you cancelled it because your kids got sick and their appointments come first? Fuck it, it will get better eventually, right? What about that movie you wanted to watch after a particularly long day with the kids, but your husband is really excited about the football game on that night so you watch that with him instead? Yeah, I’d say that moms have the team player requirement covered. Done and Done.
The ability to handle high-stress situations.
Are you effing kidding me? You don’t know what high-stress is until you’ve had to hog tie a constipated 2 year old in order to give a suppository. You haven’t lived through high stress until you’ve tried to console a devastated 3 year old who just found a dead butterfly, and this is a major deal because they LOVE flutterbys. You’re holding it together while keeping your fucking cool because this fucking butterfly up and died and ruined your whole planned out spa day that you really needed! Still, there you are doing everything you can to plan a fabulous, last minute funeral for this deceased bug while holding a sobbing toddler, and looking for a mason jar to bury it in.
The ability to keep up in fast paced conditions.
Fast paced conditions, you say? Try balancing the ins and outs of every day life with the constant and repeated unexpected situations thrown at you at various and unpredictable times throughout the course of a day. You’re handling all of this like a pro, and still deliver dinner on time, get baths done on time, and get the kids in bed on time because there is no way in hell your “mom” hours of operation are going past 8:30 after a constant speed of “balls to the wall” all fucking day long.
The ability to complete a task, and with accuracy.
Lord have mercy. Really? Of course we can complete tasks! We can even stay focused in the most hectic of environments and nail that project! Imagine a plan to sit and write a 10 page essay for your English Composition course with a house full of kids. In theory, you’ll at least get a little uninterrupted time to compose something that will at least net you a passing grade on the assignment. Are the kids going to cooperate since you’ve explained what you’re trying to get accomplished on that particular Saturday? Hell no, they aren’t! As a matter of fact, the situation will be even more ridiculous once you’ve let them know you’ve got things to do. So, you trudge through the task like the badass you are, and several hours later you’ve got a paper that just might make the grade. You get that fucking paper back with an A, and you know everything you had to tune out, every problem you had to troubleshoot along the way, every fight you had to referee between the kids just to get the paper done on time. Not only was the task completed, but it was done with focus and accuracy and attention to detail all while being compiled in a war zone. Good job, mom!
Stay-at-home moms run a three ring circus most days, and they do it like a boss. These skills are a short list of the main job points, but these moms have several more skills to brag about. They keep their cool, they get their shit taken care of, and they wake up to do it again the next day. They are dedicated, patient, and resilient. They are an invaluable resource that are unfairly overlooked, and unfairly judged. What a shame.