By Nikki Nardell
As life would have it, my husband got unexpectedly laid off last week. It was a blow to the ego, but such is business life in Corporate America. My first instinct (besides sending his entire office glitter bombs in the mail) was to dust off the old laptop and see what jobs are out there. Not for him, but for ME. After all, my husband has been keeping this ship afloat since we had kids ten years ago, and maybe now is finally my time to *drum roll please*— “go back to work.”
I logged onto LinkedIN, excited to see what potential future in the work force was out there for me. But after a few scrolls through the job listings, I shut my computer and closed my eyes. What was I thinking? Not only could I barely understand the job listings, I had exactly ZERO of the qualifications that those jobs required.
The last time I applied for a paid position was 1999. That’s right, 1-9-9-9. That job search began and ended when I cold called a number from a newspaper ad. Yes, I’m THAT many years old. Lucky for me, that call turned out to be one of the BEST calls of my life because I worked my “Dream Job” for many years to follow. I managed a coffeehouse in Boston.
But, as I sat there in my kitchen, amongst sandwich crusts and sippy cups, trying to formulate some kind of marketable skill set, I had a pretty mind blowing realization… I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up! Never! I didn’t know then and I certainly don’t know now! Is 40 too late to be figuring this shit out? (Good Lord, why do we expect this type of foresight from a teenager????) What are my skills? I can change a diaper with one hand and toss a snack pack of gummies to the rear third row seat with incredible precision while driving and keeping my eyes on the road, but is that a marketable skill? Who would I use for a reference? The only adult witness to what I’ve been doing for the past few years is Daniel Tiger’s mom. And if by some miracle, I got a job that requires me to “go to work” all week, do I even own five days worth of presentable outfits? Will my co-workers expect me to wear a bra ALL DAY??
As luck would have it, I still have that number in my phone that I called back in 1999. And lucky for me, my old boss answered, just as he always did ever since our very first meeting at Cambridge Coffeehouse. He was quick to set me straight with a few reminders. He said that while my resume may show a gap in paychecks, it did not accurately reflect my consistent “work” experience. In fact, I have gained more “work” experience over the past decade than I give myself credit. My job highlights may not be filled with corporate advances or “employee of the month” accreditation, but I have gained extensive knowledge in hospitality management and marketing. I have designed budgets. I have real word training in event planning, travel itineraries, and fundraising. I can write. I can present to a crowd when absolutely NO ONE is listening to me. I have dealt with accounts payable, accounts receivable, infrastructure, and managed an entire IT department. I have dealt with more HR and Health Insurance companies than I would like to remember. I have been micro managed and ran the whole ship. While navigating a considerable amount of feedback from food and fashion critics, mind you. And I have certainly learned my way around unruly bosses and less than ideal work schedules. Can I get an amen from everyone pulling a decade’s worth of midnight feedings and diaper changes?!?!?
So. Maybe my time management skills are still lacking (granted, I am working with a very volatile control group), but I have realized that reinventing myself for the next chapter of my life is not nearly as hopeless as I originally thought. I have cultivated quite a few skills that just need to be repackaged for the working world. Maybe rediscovering what I’m meant to be and why is part of the fun. And while I have yet to see a job listing for “Charming New England Seaside Cafe looking for an Energetic People Person, Competent, Coffee Loving Manager to oversee daily operations and sell hand dipped chocolates, homemade caramels and oven fresh muffins,” my laptop is reopened and I am looking.
I bet there are a lot us moms still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. Particularly those of us who went on a five or ten year hiatus to raise our kids.
Our main purpose will always be “Mom”. But now we’re moms for hire. And we bring a lot to the table.
You can follow Nikky at @3Snowflakes on Instagram.
If you’d like to contribute your story, follow @mommyshortssquad on Instagram and tag #mommyshortsquad on any pics that you might think would make for a good post. This post started as an Instagram caption!