When I became a stay-at-home mom, I worried about how difficult it would be to reenter the workforce. I figured that taking time away from my teaching career would hinder the ability to find work again when the time was right for me and my family. My confidence shrank because being out of the workplace over a length of time made me wonder if I'd ever be able to work outside of the home again — if I still had the knack. I envisioned the HR recruiter looking at my résumé and seeing the years where I didn't work as a giant deficit. They'd roll their eyes and toss my résumé in the trash. But let me tell you, I could not have been more wrong.
I resigned from my teaching career (one that I truly loved) when my second baby was about 6 weeks old and my mother was diagnosed with advanced cancer. I didn't think twice about becoming a full-time caretaker. But as time went on, I began to get that urge within me to do something outside of the home again. So, I earned another graduate degree and began writing a little as a freelancer. Getting my feet wet felt energizing and right. But when my youngest was getting ready to start kindergarten, I knew that there was no better time to start looking for a new job. So, I began applying for composition instructor positions at local universities and colleges. And what happened next surprised me more than I ever could have guessed.
First, people actually called me for interviews. They didn't look at the gap in my résumé as a negative thing. In fact, no one even asked about it. I mean, many SAHMs eventually go back into the workforce; I think people are likely used to seeing some kind of gap. And second, when I walked into those interviews, I beamed with confidence. Being a SAHM actually prepared me for the next step in my teaching career. If I could manage my household and wrangle two small children, I could do anything. I truly believe that moms sometimes underestimate our abilities outside of the home. But I know that what we accomplish inside of the home is actually preparing us for whatever we chose to do outside of it.
Prepping all of the meals, organizing all of the activities, teaching my children their ABCs, and keeping the family calendar organized did not just happen on a whim. Those things actually took a lot of planning and hard work. So, when I sat in my chair during the interviews, my self-esteem was not intimidated by the big scholars in front of me, their fancy degrees hanging on the walls, or their enormous vocabularies. I had survived raising children during the baby years — I could do anything.
I answered their questions with ease. I was witty, poised, and, most importantly, I was myself. I didn't need to pretend to be someone I'm not. Sure, I knew I was as smart as any other candidate, but the truth was that I wasn't as accomplished as some of the other candidates. But suddenly, it didn't matter to me that I stayed home to raise my children for a few years instead of working. Confidence flew out of my mouth and came across in my body language, too. I rocked those interviews. After all of the interviews, I waited. I sincerely wasn't nervous about the outcome. I knew that what was meant to be would be. I trusted in that.
All of the roles I interviewed for were offered to me. And honestly, I have being a SAHM to thank for that. I'm certain that being home with my children for those years taught me so much more than I ever dreamed. I'll never regret it. I'm looking forward to getting back into the classroom and into the career I love. But I will always cherish those years I spent with my children and thankful for how they prepared me for the next step in my life. In giving to my children, I never could have dreamed that, in the end, I was actually giving to myself.