Resources and reporting for mothers and others who think about social change.
get active
about mmo
mmo blog

You’re not the boss of me

By Cindy DeMerlis

Now that I have decided to once again change careers, I have found a whole new set of problems just waiting to undermine me. Not the least of which is the fact that I haven’t held a paying job since they stopped putting aircraft-sized shoulder pads in power suits.

I seem to recall people discussing back then that “sequencing” one’s career was the upcoming trend for professional women who wanted to take off a few years to raise a family, and then gently ease back into the world of income once the bulk of the raising was done. Sounded like a good idea at the time. In fact, I think I even pinkie swore to do it together with a few of my people. I honestly did try the working mom thing for a while, but life was spinning out of control, so I simply sequenced out.

And for a while, I thought everyone else had too. The problem became, however, that there were never any hard and fast rule for how long this sequencation was to last. Foolishly, I assumed somebody would let me know when the proper time had come. Unfortunately, I have come to find out, much to my utter dismay, that many mothers— and you know who you are— snuck back in to the work force without telling me the trend was over! Could you not have at least called me? Or, no pardon me, I forgot it’s not the 80s— how about sending me an e-mail!?

Oh, sure, you down-played your little ventures out into the paying world so well. I never suspected a thing. How could I, I was too busy professionalizing my motherhood duties, organizing scheduling, researching, developing proposals for every aspect and phase of the kids’ lives. All the while I presumed one day a package would arrive, at the appropriate time, containing my new opportunities, an up-dated resume, a couple of juicy offers and a signing bonus to get me started. Oh yeah, and a new outfit.

Never did I expect the notice to be in the form of the first college tuition bill. After opening that mail, once I regained consciousness, I went into the bathroom to splash water on my face and there it was! Written on the mirror was “Holy crap, you dumb ass!! You’ve been doing all this work for free all these years. Everyone else has figured it out by now! Are you blind!!”

I’m not kidding.

That’s when I finally figured it out. You other Sequencers were all out there, working at the children’s clothing store “for the discount” or helping the guy up the street “do his payroll” or taking on the volunteer jobs, that unlike any of mine, “just kind of evolved into a paying position.” And now I find out all the while you were really just gearing up, padding your resumes, posturing for re-establishing outside employment.

So now, when Mr. or Ms. Prospective Employer looks at my resume next to yours, you’ve got fillers since that last trip to the delivery room! Those little “just a couple of hours a week jobs” were all just a ruse to better position yourselves for total re-entry! I understand why: when I sent my resume to a friend recently for her opinion, she could barely control her bladder when she set me up with the “looks good but there’s something missing” line. Naively thinking she was referring perhaps to an omitted punctuation mark, I asked what it could be, and she burst out with “the nineties!!”

And while the rest of you moms actually have recent professional references, I have to struggle with that one. It’s been so long since I’ve actually worked for someone. Let’s see, I’ve got dead people, a convicted felon (my personal favorite— I do wish I had gotten a letter of recommendation on prison letterhead), some Florida retirees and the rest who are probably blissfully experiencing their dotage— and you know who you are, too. I’m actually thinking of asking my pediatricians if I could use them for references. Of course they’re starting to retire, also!

I have therefore simply decided to tell anyone who asks that I have been in a coma for 15 years due to a youthful indiscretion. This way, I can kill two birds with one stone. Not only do I explain the gap in employment history, but I get a sympathy edge as well.

That hurdle being jumped, I also have to contend with a few other issues. Wardrobe is a big one. Like I mentioned earlier, I understand most business apparel today does not feature shoulder pads. I’m guessing the bold-colored, oversized earrings have gone out as well. From what I read, the whole casual dress-down trend has come and gone since I’ve been…in a coma…so I’m sure I will have to do a lot of research, and shopping, to definitively ascertain the proper look. This is going to be tough because I really hate shopping of any sort. I have two teenage girls. I soured on the whole experience of that years ago.

As far as the technology revolutions go, I do realize that I have some catching up to do there. As soon as I can master watching a DVD, which I have actually made some inroads on, I figure I’ll tackle Power Point. For the time being, my potential employers are just going to have to be satisfied with the fact that I can automatically highlight a word on the computer.

Here’s the ultimate challenge I figure I’m going to face upon re-entry. For over 17 years now, I have been the CEO, the go-to guy, the point man, the front guy, the chief cook and bottle washer, the trouble-shooter, the decision maker, the planner, the CFO, the advisor, the comforter, the enforcer. OK, my husband has had some input on a few issues, but I maintain final say. It worked for us.

But nobody has been the boss of me. I was it. I loved being the boss of everyone. I embraced it and defined it. I flourished in the role of boss. I was fair and just, but I ruled. I reigned.

This may be one hurdle even harder to jump than Power Point. As for the aspect of finding something that is stimulating and rewarding, eh, been there, done that. I’m not worried about that one. How could any other job in the world be as satisfying and fulfilling as birthing and raising kids? Think about it, they were just helpless little fleshy blobs, wholly dependent and defenseless. I grew them. I developed them. I made three of them. Real human beings. And they turned out right. What could possibly be more gratifying than that?

No, I don’t need job fulfillment. Now I just need to work for the money. In the meantime, with no updated wardrobe, no updated skills, no updated references, precious little technology skills, and an inflated sense of importance, I guess I’d better get back to practicing my new mantra.

“Would you like fries with that order?” 

mmo : april 2005

Cindy DeMerlis lives in suburban Philadelphia. She is currently putting the finishing touches on Child #2 of 3, who will soon be following #1 to college. She continues in her search of a meaningful, productive and paying job. Her husband enthusiastically supports these efforts.

Reuse of content for publication or compensation by permission only.
© 2003-2008 The Mothers Movement Online.


The Mothers Movement Online