A number of years ago, I went to a seminar about how to get a good job. Most people who are looking for work don’t realize that there is more to it than just filling out applications and writing a resume, even when there are jobs that are available. One of the other people at the seminar was a woman in her thirties whom I’ll call Nancy.
The man who was giving the seminar was named Steve and he was the hiring manager of a very large and well-known company. One of the first things Steve did was to have all of us write down on a piece of paper all the job experience we had. Everyone wrote a number of things on their paper, except for Nancy, who just sat there looking miserable. Finally, Steve asked Nancy why she wasn’t writing anything down.
Nancy said, “I have no experience at all. I got married right after school and my husband brought in all the money. I just took care of the children and the house, as a full-time Mom for three kids and homemaker. My husband passed away earlier this year. I have no job experience, so there is nothing I can write down.”
Steve gave her a huge smile and said, “You probably have more job experience than anyone else in this room, myself included. As a full-time mom, what did you do?”
Nancy thought for a minute, shrugged and said, “I took care of the kids.”
Steve nodded and wrote “Babysitter” on the white board. Then he asked, “Did the kids ever get hurt or sick? If they did, what did you do?”
She said, “If it was a cut or scrape, I’d clean it and bandage it. If they had colds, I’d make chicken soup for them. If it was really bad, I’d take them to the doctor, then make sure that they took their medication.”
Steve wrote down, “Nurse and Medic”. Then he asked, “You mentioned making chicken soup. Did you ever fix any other food?”
“Oh, yes. I cooked all the meals, making sure that the kids got a balanced meal,” she said. He wrote down “Cook”, “Server”, “Dietitian“.
“Did you wash the dishes, too?”
“Yes,” she said. “That was part of being a homemaker; washing dishes, washing clothes, drying them and putting them away. Sweeping, mopping…you know, the regular stuff.”
Steve wrote down, “Dishwasher, housekeeper, domestic equipment operator (washing machine, clothes dryer, stove, blender, etc), Janitor”.
Steve asked, “Did you do any grocery shopping?”
“Of course. I did all the shopping for food, cleaning supplies, clothing, and sometimes I had to alter the clothes,” she said, starting to get the idea. He wrote down, “Procurement officer, tailor, seamstress, stocker.”
“How did you pay for the supplies?” he asked.
“Usually by check or credit card. I had a set budget,” she said. He wrote “book-keeper, budget director”.
“And did the kids ever have squabbles or fights? What would you do when they did?”
“I’d find out what the problem was and sit down with the kids and help them talk it out so they could find solutions for the problem.”
“Okay, so you did what any good manager would do and you also did the work of a counselor,” he said, adding those to the list. Then he said, “Did you ever help the kids with homework, take them to or from school events or any of that sort of thing?”
“Of course,” she said.
He wrote down, “teacher, tutor, taxi driver.”
By the time Steve got done with asking Nancy questions, the whiteboard was covered with job experience, 62 things in all, and he only stopped because he ran out of room. He told the whole class that Nancy was extremely experienced. She feebly tried to counter by saying, “Yes, but I didn’t have a real job.”
Steve grinned and said, “Oh, really? You didn’t take it seriously? You didn’t work hard to make sure everyone and everything was taken care of? Nancy, there is no harder or more diverse job in the world than being a full-time Mom. You had to work long hours, the wages were exceptionally poor, you sacrificed and I’d guess that many times you did things for your kids and husband they were never even aware of. Being a full-time mother is a real job, every bit as real as being a CEO, doctor, lawyer or anything else.”
“Let me explain something. Our vice president of operations was formerly a full-time mother. Our chairman of the board got her start as a full-time mom. My own mother was a full-time mom and at the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, her son didn’t turn out too bad. I can guarantee that my success came from the love and work of a full-time mom who gave me the right upbringing, letting me make my own decisions, but always being there to offer advice if I asked for it and ready to catch me when I’d stumble.”
When I left that seminar, I had a lot to think about. I realized how important my own mother was in my life and how hard she’d worked on behalf of my sisters, my brother and me. At the time, my own wife was also a stay-at-home mom. You can believe that when I got home, the first thing was to hug my wife and thank her for being a good mom. The second thing I did was to call my mother just to thank her. To say that she was surprised would have been an understatement. She told me that the act of telling her that I appreciated everything she’d done made it all worth it.
I can’t help but wonder how many women are out there thinking that they have no job experience because they are “only” a full-time mom? If your mom was a full-time mom, did you ever tell her that you appreciated all that she’s done for you in your life? Sometimes we all need a change in our viewpoint, don’t you think?