If and when I decide to go back to work, I’m listing “Mom” at the very top of my resume. Why do women leave it off and lie that they took time off? People spout that I’ll be professionally doomed, if I don’t put my daughter in day care or let someone else wipe her butt and teach her the basics. It’s the loudest echo in the room at family functions. I always reply, “I haven’t taken time off work. I’ve been working overtime.”
Yes, this answer may not fly with every hiring manager, namely someone without a kid, but I don’t need empathy. I need someone to hear my point and hear it loud and clear. I’m like a volunteer. I chose to be a parent and raise a child. I work for free and for a good cause. And they won’t hire me because I decided to have some diversity in my job experience?
Before my previous employer decided to shutdown my department and hand out the severance checks, I was a Project Manager for a large telecommunications company. I primarily worked with Engineers. I believe that job prepared me well for being a mother, in many ways. In the same way being a mother has taught me the most about my management skills. I’m more introspective because it’s so personal.
We put our children in preschool to teach them social skills. This seems to be the trend today, in at 2-years-old and out at 4. Well, I’m not sure Engineers ever went to preschool, because 8 out of 10 times (I’m rounding up), they lack social skills. So, basically, dealing with a team of Engineers is like teaching a bunch of toddlers to play nicely together.
With Engineers, everyone thinks they are right and no one is willing to back down. Instead of crying, there is a lot of sighing and near screaming. Sometimes, profanities were flying and I had to act as a mediator. It’s the same with my daughter. She’s not yelling profanities, but I’m still acting as a mediator.
The other day at the park, she stepped off her swing to fix her shoe. Well, another little girl didn’t realize she wasn’t done with it and took the swing. I was about 20 feet away, chatting it up with another mommy, when I heard the cry. I knew it was my daughter and I knew someone had taken something from her.
Me: What happened, sweetie?
Babyface: She took my [sniffle, sniffle] swing.
Me: Did she think you were done using it? Did you ask her if you could take turns? There’s no need to cry, you have to use your words and communicate with her. She just wants to use the swing too. Can you ask her if she’ll share it with you?
Babyface: Okay, Mommy. [Turns to cute little girl] Do you want to take turns?
New Friend: Okay!
Me: Why don’t I set my timer for three minutes, so you can take turns? [Sets iPhone]
Babyface and New Friend: Okay [Smiles all around]
Believe it or not, this is easier than dealing with a bunch of Engineers. With Engineers, there is no swing (although, I’m sure they’d love to have one in the office). It’s all about taking turns talking.
Sitting in a room full of Engineers is no different than sitting in a confined room with a bunch of toddlers screaming. And, my girlfriends wonder how I tune out the toddlers around me so well. I’ve had a lot of experience in selective hearing to keep my sanity.
Coddling for Conflict Resolution
With Engineers there is a lot of ego stroking. If everyone thinks they’re right, then I had to figure out a way to make them all stay happy and still problem solve together. This involved a lot of one-on-one coddling; sitting and listening to each side separately and making them feel like what they had to say was important and mostly correct. I say, “mostly”, because if I agreed with everything, then they might’ve caught on to my manipulation of the situation. Sometimes you have to go to extreme measures to meet team deadlines.
If my daughter does something wrong and I want to get my point across, I have to coddle her and explain what she did wrong. A timeout doesn’t always educate, when it comes to conflict resolution. We have to have a “conversation” about what she did wrong (always including what she did right to keep it from sounding accusatory) and explain how she can improve. Not much different than stroking an Engineer’s ego, if you ask me. Extreme measures to keep her from being messed up. It’s kind of like a deadline, right?
Overtime and No Vacation Time
Sometimes during crunch time at work, everyone would have to work longer hours and vacation time would be salvaged. Well, as a mother, I work more than overtime. I work ALL OF THE TIME. I don’t get to go home and veg out on the couch. My daughter will stand in front of me or jump on me.
When we go on vacation, I’m not really on vacation. It’s not like my daughter suddenly disappears. The coddling for conflict resolution and relationship management still exists. Her needs still have to be met, in order to achieve the ultimate goal, a happy, smart and well-adjusted little girl.
A large part of project management is task management and time management. As the manager of the household, my husband’s bad memory and my daughter’s well being, I would say that I have mastered the art of multitasking and efficiency. I still use Google Calendar. I still use my iPhone to schedule out activities. My honey-to-do lists are very detailed task lists, sometimes planned out for two weeks. Our household is an agile environment and our daily stand-up is a phone call, while my husband drives home from work.
Not to mention, planning all of our vacations, managing day-to-day finances and making sure everyone doesn’t starve. I do all of this and I still manage to be religious about writing. I’d say these are pretty major bullet points to put on my resume.
I hope, if/when I decide to go back to work my hiring manager doesn’t read mommy blogs. And, if they do, then I hope they’re not an Engineer. Ruh roh. Pull foot out of mouth.